| 14.8°C Dublin

Debutants impress Matt O'Connor as Leinster cut loose

Close

Ian Madigan, Leinster, scores his side's third try of the game

Ian Madigan, Leinster, scores his side's third try of the game

SPORTSFILE

Sean Cronin, Leinster, is tackled by John Barclay, left, and Rhys Priestland, Scarlets

Sean Cronin, Leinster, is tackled by John Barclay, left, and Rhys Priestland, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Dominic Ryan, Leinster, is tackled by Rory Pitman, left, and Ken Owens, Scarlets

Dominic Ryan, Leinster, is tackled by Rory Pitman, left, and Ken Owens, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Jamie Heaslip, Leinster, is tackled by Johan Snyman, Scarlets

Jamie Heaslip, Leinster, is tackled by Johan Snyman, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Jimmy Gopperth, Leinster, is tackled by Rhys Priestland, Scarlets

Jimmy Gopperth, Leinster, is tackled by Rhys Priestland, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Darragh Fanning, Leinster, in action against Gareth Davies, Scarlets

Darragh Fanning, Leinster, in action against Gareth Davies, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Brendan Macken, Leinster, escapes the tackle of Jordan Williams, Scarlets

Brendan Macken, Leinster, escapes the tackle of Jordan Williams, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Jamie Heaslip, Leinster, is tackled by Rhys Priestland, Scarlets

Jamie Heaslip, Leinster, is tackled by Rhys Priestland, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Sean Cronin, Leinster, goes over for a try, which was subsequently disallowed, despite the tackle of Gareth Owen, Scarlets

Sean Cronin, Leinster, goes over for a try, which was subsequently disallowed, despite the tackle of Gareth Owen, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

Brendan Macken, Leinster, in action against Steven Shingler, left, and Scott Williams, Scarlets

Brendan Macken, Leinster, in action against Steven Shingler, left, and Scott Williams, Scarlets

SPORTSFILE

/

Ian Madigan, Leinster, scores his side's third try of the game

A year ago almost to the week Leinster went to Llanelli and put 42 points on the Scarlets in a near perfect opening to a campaign that ended with the Pro12 title in Ballsbridge. Uncannily they ran up the same total at the RDS yesterday in lovely conditions before an appreciative crowd of 16,108.

Whether or not the title comes back to this neighbourhood is another issue, but Matt O'Connor can be happy that his team looked a whole lot better here than they did in Glasgow last weekend.

It helped, naturally enough, that the opposition were woeful. It would be simplistic to say that every time Leinster shifted the ball wide they found a hole big enough to drive a truck through, but certainly the Welsh defence was very weak once there was some width on the game. And it wasn't as if the home team had to stack phase upon phase to get the gap in the five metre channel. Rather Scarlets frequently left the door open, obviating Leinster from kicking it in.

The cost of this bonus point win was in a hamstring strain for Zane Kirchner which will keep him out for a few weeks. Given that he is a player who doesn't disappear for Test duty, he's someone O'Connor likes having around, and fit. Shane Jennings was another casualty, with a stinger, but that was the extent of Leinster's troubles.

On the upside they gave Pro12 debuts to Mick McGrath, Steve Crosbie and Bryan Byrne, and all did very well. Byrne in particular is not the biggest hooker on the planet but his footwork is first-class and he is a very good rugby player.

"Yeah I thought Mick McGrath and Steve Crosbie were very good out there and Benjy Marshall is making good progress," O'Connor said afterwards. "The squad is moving forward and that's what we're going to need.

"We were disappointed off the back of last week and we put a lot of those things right today, which was pleasing. There was a different dynamic slightly - they're (Glasgow) a very good side defensively on that little pitch in Glasgow so we knew it would be a bit different today."

Chalk and cheese kind of different. The set-piece was very good, and despite Jimmy Gopperth going through a rough patch, where both his handling and kicking deserted him, there were enough players around him in fine form. Like Ian Madigan, for example. He converted all six tries, two of which he scored himself. Rob Kearney also was excellent, and he made the difference in that opening half-hour when Scarlets were still competing.

The fullback got the opener on nine minutes, then scored again on 27 minutes, and it was his break that opened the Scarlets defence for Madigan's first try, on 35 minutes.

When man of the match Jamie Heaslip cruised through yet another hole soon after and put Sean Cronin away the supporters were already celebrating the bonus point with a couple of minutes to go to the break.

And understandably so for Cronin must be one the quickest hookers in the game, but a combination of carrying the ball in the wrong hand, and being careless with his feet gave TMO Alan Rogan a choice of reasons to disallow the score, with credit to Gareth Owen for knocking the ball from Cronin's grasp as he slid over the line.

The next opportunity to square away the extras came midway through the third quarter when Leinster set up camp in Llanelli's corner. It took on an inevitable look when Phil John was binned for taking out Kevin McLaughlin in the air at a lineout, and sure enough a couple of minutes later Madigan got over for his second after he isolated John Barclay and ran around him.

That put Leinster far enough ahead that they could curl up and sleep if they wished. They didn't.

The replacements all did was expected of them - to make an impact - which will have been pleasing for O'Connor given the depth developing in the squad. Dominic Ryan, a player who has been plagued with injury, is an example of the quality available now in the back row and he got over just before the hour mark.

Replacement tighthead Tadhg Furlong did his burgeoning reputation no harm with a try from close range on 70 minutes. It was a decent display all round.

Scorers - Leinster: R Kearney 2 tries; D Ryan, T Furlong try each; I Madigan 2 tries, 6 cons; Scarlets: S Williams, J Snyman try each; S Shingler con.

Leinster: R Kearney (S Crosbie 59); Z Kirchner (M McGrath 31), B Macken, I Madigan, D Fanning; J Gopperth, I Boss (E Reddan 55); J McGrath (C Healy 55), S Cronin (B Byrne 67), M Ross (T Furlong 55), D Toner, M McCarthy, D Ryan, J Heaslip (capt; yc 80), S Jennings (K McLaughlin ht).

Scarlets: G Owen (G Davies 68); H Robinson, S Williams, A Warren, J Williams; R Priestland (S Shingler 70), R Williams (A Davies 55); P John (yc 53; R Evans 63), K Owens (capt, E Phillips 70), R Jones, J Ball (R Kelly 70), J Snyman, A Shingler (R McCusker 67), R Pitman (R Evans temp 53-63), J Barclay.

Referee: M Mitrea (Italy)

Sunday Indo Sport