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Blues victory in 'penalty fest' rugby at the Aviva

THE boys arrived back in town with a bang last night.

After the disappointment of the World Cup, several Ireland rugby stars were back on home ground in the Aviva Stadium.

But this time there was no love lost between Leinster boys Gordon D'Arcy, Leo Cullen and Jamie Heaslip and their Munster rivals Keith Earls, Ronan O'Gara and Paul O'Connell.

Blue met red in the first big provincial game of the new RaboDirect PRO12 league. And the 48,500 who showed up weren't disappointed.

The Leinster men readjusted to real life better than their counterparts and managed a 24-19 win over their arch rivals in what coach Joe Schmidt described as a "penalty fest".

"With the second highest crowd attendance in the league, it's not the way we would have liked it ... a penalty fest," said Schmidt.

The hero of the hour, like so many times before, was Johnny Sexton.

The number 10 left his World Cup woes firmly behind as he kicked seven penalties.

He may have returned from New Zealand having been demoted to the number two choice by Irish coach Declan Kidney -- but there was no doubt who was number one last night.

Brian O'Driscoll was kept out of the game with an injury but was still there to assume the role of main motivator.

"Yeah, it was a bit hairy at the end," said Schmidt. "An ugly derby game of rugby. Quite good endeavour there but it was difficult to play rugby. It was a really frustrating night.

"It's not the way we want to play necessarily."

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