Clinical Leinster climb to second
Leinster 36 Scarlets 19
Leinster edged their way up into second place in the Pro12, behind Munster, thanks to a stress-free run out in front of 15,740 at the RDS last night.
As is often the case on these evenings, where conditions are benign and the opposition short-staffed – Scarlets' seven absentees hurt them far more than Leinster's nine – it was a question of when rather than if Matt O'Connor's team would secure the bonus point. Not too long was the answer to that.
Conceding three tries will have annoyed O'Connor. On the injury front his issues ahead of the Heineken Cup tie in Northampton on Saturday are with Marty Moore, who went off seemingly badly winded – O'Connor maintains he will be fine for the weekend – and Gordon D'Arcy, who hurt his arm.
O'Connor can't have had too many concerns about last night's opposition, although the visitors started strongly. By the break they were only one try away from the bonus, despite losing Leo Cullen to the sin-bin – playing his first game of the season following an Achilles operation in September, he was yellow-carded for killing the ball at a ruck.
Much of their dominance was down to a powerful set-piece, in particular a set-scrum which marched the red shirts back at will. That gave Leinster some useful front-foot ball, which allowed Ian Madigan room to move, and to get Brendan Macken out of the blocks. This was the centre's seventh start from Leinster's 11 games and at this stage he looks more than comfortable in the role. You couldn't say the same for Adam Warren, whom he stood up on 12 minutes to score with a scorching run.
That had followed a penalty on eight minutes from Madigan, and given the sequence of events – Scarlets try and barge the door down to no avail; Leinster turn the key and it opens first time – there was an air of finality to it, even if the game was still in the first quarter.
Scarlets survived a referral upstairs for what would have been Zane Kirchner's first score for his new team (that would come later) but at the expense of a five-metre scrum. That turned into a mini series, and on the third penalty award for Leinster, referee Ian Davies ran around behind the sticks. Madigan's conversion put the home team 15-0. It was 22-0 at the break after Jack McGrath got over in the middle of a forward drive.
In the second half three cards were issued without any great impact, and even if the away side managed three tries in that period that didn't have a whole lot of impact either. The best of the half, however, was Kirchner's touchdown. The Springbok looked good in everything he did.
Scorers – Leinster: pen try; B Macken, J McGrath, E Reddan, Z Kirchner try each; I Madigan pen, 4 cons. Scarlets: G Maule, A Warren, G Davies try each; A Thomas 2 cons.
Leinster: Z Kirchner; L Tuqiri, B Macken (yc 79), G D'Arcy (J Gopperth 60), L Fitzgerald (D Fanning 63); I Madigan, E Reddan (L McGrath 63); J McGrath (M Bent 63), A Dundon (S Cronin 60), M Moore (M Ross 24), L Cullen (yc 38-48), M McCarthy, R Ruddock, J Murphy, S Jennings (capt)(D Ryan 56)
Scarlets: G Owen (J Williams 24); N Reynolds, G Maule (J Lewis 60), A Warren, F Climo; A Thomas, G Davies (A Davies 60); P John (capt)(E Phillips ht), K Myhill (R Evans ht), J Adriaanse (H Pungea ht), J Ball, J Snyman (R Kelly 60), A Shingler, S Timani (yc 51-61; J Turnbull 79), J Barclay
Referee: I Davies (Wales)