Leinster sent out a massive statement of intent ahead of the defence of their European title by destroying 14-man Munster 30-0 at the RDS.
Leinster sent out a massive statement of intent ahead of the defence of their European title by destroying 14-man Munster at the RDS.
John Hayes' second-half dismissal was out of character but there was no excuse for his stamping on the face of a prone Cian Healy and the television replays left the capacity crowd groaning.
However, the incident was just part of the story as Leinster produced their most complete display of the professional era.
Tries from Gordon D'Arcy, Brian O'Driscoll and Shane Horgan helped Michael Cheika's men ensure an embarrassing night for the reigning Magners League champions who looked shellshocked at times.
Leinster won all of the individual battles, dominated the set-piece and never dropped their intensity in both defence and attack, with 15-point hero Jonathan Sexton comfortably putting his out-half rival Ronan O'Gara in the shade.
It was a typically breathless opening as the provincial rivals tore into each other, showing immense physicality with the Leinster pack menacingly coming to the fore.
Jamie Heaslip, Kevin McLaughlin and the energetic Nathan Hines put in some huge hits, as did Horgan and O'Driscoll in his first match back since the Lions tour.
Playing into a swirling wind, Munster's usual precision was missing. Donncha O'Callaghan was whistled up for being ahead of the kicker in the fifth minute, allowing Sexton to boot Leinster in front.
O'Gara miscued with his first penalty attempt, much to the delight of the home fans, and the blue tide swept forward under Leo Cullen's baton.
They should have scored the opening try when an outstanding maul drive brought them to within inches of the Munster whitewash.
Tomas O'Leary was fortunate to avoid a yellow card when conceding a penalty under his posts, but Sexton's resulting penalty gave Leinster some reward.
Continuing to win the collisions, the hosts pulled 13-0 clear after 26 minutes with a classy try engineered by McLaughlin's grunt and O'Driscoll's guile.
The young flanker made the hard yards in the middle before O'Driscoll fixed both Marcus Horan and Denis Leamy with a terrific pass to Horgan. The big winger galloped forward and offloaded inside for the supporting D'Arcy to ease over.
Sexton added the conversion and while Munster improved in open play, gaining territory with leg-pumping bursts from Leamy and Nick Williams, a couple of excellent turnovers saw Leinster hold firm for a 13-0 half-time lead.
Six minutes into the second half, the game was effectively beyond Munster's reach. O'Driscoll scampered past Jean de Villiers and away from Keith Earls' grasp for another try, which Sexton converted.
Lions captain Paul O'Connell and David Wallace made little impression off the bench for Munster as the men in red continued to struggle for quality possession and Leinster's tackle count rose further.
As Munster attempted to maul forward on their 22, a grounded Healy looked to bring it down illegally and Hayes took matters into his own hands by lashing out with his right boot.
Ireland's most-capped player saw red and Sexton stretched Leinster's lead to 23 points.
Nine minutes from the finish, Horgan rubbed salt into Munster wounds by intercepting a Paul Warwick pass that was bound for De Villiers and romping over for a deserved try.
Sexton's successful conversion brought the curtains down on Leinster's 11th straight win at their Dublin base and the first occasion Munster have been held scoreless in league action.
Tries: D'Arcy, O'Driscoll, Horgan
Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Stan Wright, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Bernard Jackman, 17 Mike Ross, 18 Malcolm O'Kelly, 19 Sean O'Brien, 20 Simon Keogh, 21 Fergus McFadden, 22 Rob Kearney.
Munster: 15 Keith Earls, 14 Doug Howlett, 13 Lifeimi Mafi, 12 Jean de Villiers, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ronan O'Gara (capt), 9 Tomas O'Leary, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Niall Ronan, 6 Denis Leamy, 5 Mick O'Driscoll, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 John Hayes, 2 Denis Fogarty, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Jerry Flannery, 17 Tony Buckley, 18 Paul O'Connell, 19 David Wallace, 20 Paul Warwick, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Ian Dowling.
Referee: Simon McDowell (IRFU)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (IRFU), Michael Black (IRFU)
4th offical: Peter Dennehy (ARLB)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (IRFU)