Seven-try Leinster run riot to secure bonus-point victory over Scarlets

It can’t be easy going to the RDS just six days after getting slapped around in your own back yard by Munster’s second string, so if and how Scarlets would react to that was a chief point of interest here. As it turned out, not the way they wanted.

n a lovely evening for rugby, in front of a 14,055 crowd, they knew they would get a chance to play with width if they could cope with the physical stakes. Scarlets’ reputation for heavy hitting is not great. So it was inevitable Leinster would go after them there.

The perfect example came at the extended conclusion to the first half. With the clock in overtime the home side were refusing to leave without making the point. Penalty led to penalty led to penalty until referee Marius van der Westhuizen stood under the black spot with arm raised. That penalty try saw Leinster head off to the changing room with a 22-8 lead. There wasn’t anyone in either camp who didn’t see it finishing with a bonus point for Leinster.

With their marquee names back on duty, this was part URC business and part form for Ireland’s November series. Before the Lions had assembled pre-South Africa Andrew Porter was already a casualty and you imagined the pain that caused Warren Gatland at the time. Porter illustrated here why he is of such value to whoever he plays for. Beside him Ronan Kelleher was very good too. Given the positive contribution of Rob Herring for Ulster on Friday night this will be a source of comfort to Andy Farrell. Jack Conan also was explosive in the loose, helped by a powerful scrum and his own appetite for work.

As for Stuart Lancaster and Leo Cullen, they’ll have been happy with a seven try performance, and the form of Ciarán Frawley as a second playmaker. He got the man of the match award as well as a head injury after a monumental collision with Gareth Davies. Elsewhere the Leinster coaches will want more from Caelan Doris and Garry Ringrose, but overall it was good enough in a game with an unreal amount of stoppages. Between injuries and referrals and resets it was painful at times.

There had been bright points for Scarlets. They were first out of the traps in the try-scoring stakes and full credit to Johnny Williams for making it. The inside centre had been hammered so hard on an earlier carry you wondered would he get up, but on 18 minutes he slipped through a gap between Garry Ringrose and James Lowe to make a lovely offload to Ioan Nicholas who put Johnny McNicholl over in the corner. Aside from a penalty by Sam Costelow in the opening sequence of the game that was it for the Welsh in the first half.

By the sixth minute of the second half however, they had given Leinster the bonus point when Doris got over after a powerful charge by Kelleher, and despite Tomas Lezana scoring to pull it back to 29-15 in the third quarter they would suffer a bit more before the finish.

Dan Sheehan – another hooker with ambition – managed to score twice coming off the bench, the second an impressive finish from a crosskick by Ross Byrne. It was fairground attraction stuff by that stage.

Leinster: H Keenan; J Larmour, G Ringrose, C Frawley (T O’Brien HIA 48-60; 66), J Lowe; J Sexton (capt)(R Byrne 51), J Gibson-Park (L McGrath 57); A Porter (C Healy 57), R Kelleher (D Sheehan 57), T Furlong (M Ala’atoa 57), R Molony (R Baird 61), J Ryan (R Molony HIA 69), C Doris (R Ruddock 71), J Conan, J van der Flier.

Replacements: D Sheehan, C Healy, M Ala’alatoa, R Baird, R Ruddock, L McGrath, R Byrne, J O’Brien.

Scarlets: I Nicholas; J McNicholl (yc 69-79; T Rogers HIA 21-30), J Davies (capt)(T Rogers 63), J Williams, R Conbeer; S Costelow (D Jones 48), G Davies (K Hardy 57); W Jones (R Evans 57), K Owens (R Elias 48), WG John (S Lee ht); S Lousi, L Ashley (M Jones 74); A Shingler (S Evans 63), B Thomson, T Lezana

Referee: M van der Westhuizen (South Africa).


Leinster: (Pen try; D Sheehan 2 tries; R Kelleher, A Porter, C Doris, C Healy try; J Sexton pen 1, con 2; R Byrne con 3; C Frawley con)

Scarlets: 15 (J McNicholl, T Lezana try each; S Costelow pen 1; D Jones con 1)

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