Leinster cemented their place at the Magners League summit with a clinical 24-10 victory over the Scarlets at Stradey Park on Saturday.
Leinster cemented their place at the Magners League summit as they recorded a clinical 24-10 victory over the Scarlets at Stradey Park on Saturday.
Tries from props Ollie le Roux and Stan Wright set the tone in the first-half and Malcolm O'Kelly's score in the second kept the Welsh at bay to all but right off their own title aspirations.
In torrential conditions Leinster were indebted to their forwards, notably lock O'Kelly who was making a record 140th appearance for the Irish province.
In heavy rain and on a muddy pitch the Scarlets found themselves completely out-muscled up front especially in the set scrummage, where they were without first choice props Iestyn Thomas (dead leg) and Deacon Manu (banned).
In the end it was no surprise Leinster went in at half-time with a 17-3 lead.
The league leaders mauled and then rucked their way to the line before the big frame of le Roux burrowed over. Felipe Contepomi converted to give the visitors a 7-0 lead in the thirteenth minute.
The Scarlets got themselves into the contest almost immediately from the restart with a Stephen Jones penalty after Contepomi went in from the side of a ruck.
But Leinster kept coming at the Scarlets and from a five-metre scrum the home pack conceded a penalty. It was surprising Leinster did not opt for another scrum but instead Contepomi kicked the goal to give the Irish side a 10-3 advantage in the 27th minute.
The pressure just did not ease as the game neared half-time with full-back Rob Kearney not too far away with a long-range drop-goal attempt.
Stephen Jones missed a penalty and just before half-time prop Wright squeezed over for the second try, a score awarded after it was referred to the television match official.
However, the Scarlets made a significant change at half-time with Matthew Rees brought on in place of Mahonri Schwalger.
And the home side began to enjoy a concerted period with ball in hand and in the Leinster 22.
Twice Dwayne Peel went on sniping runs and then Nathan Thomas, a blood-bin replacement for Alix Popham, went very close before Leinster scrum-half Chris Whitaker was sin-binned for ball killing.
And with the extra man the Scarlets put the match back in the melting pot as Dafydd Jones went in for a try on 54 minutes converted by Stephen Jones.
But it was not in doubt for long as fourteen-man Leinster immediately went up the other end and scored their third try within three minutes.
Keeping it in the forwards as the rain intensified, O'Kelly crashed over with the Contepomi conversion restoring a fourteen-point advantage they were never going to relinquish.
For the Scarlets:
Con: S Jones
Pen: S Jones
Tries: le Roux, Wright, O'Kelly
Con: Contepomi 3
Yellow card: Whitaker (Leinster – 51 mins), Blaney (Leinster – 60 mins)
Scarlets: 15 Morgan Stoddart, 14 Dafydd James, 13 Regan King, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Mark Jones, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Dwayne Peel (c), 8 Alix Popham, 7 Gavin Thomas, 6 Dafydd Jones, 5 Scott MacLeod, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Bruce Douglas, 2 Mahronri Schwalger, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ben Broster, 17 Matthew Rees, 18 Adam Eustace, 19 Nathan Thomas, 20 Gavin Cattle, 21 Ceiron Thomas, 22 Matthew Watkins.
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Michael Berne, 12 Felipe Contepomi, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Chris Whitaker, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Stephen Keogh, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Leo Cullen (c), 3 Stan Wright, 2 Bernard Jackman, 1 Ollie le Roux.
Replacements: 16 Brian Blaney, 17 Cian Healy / Stephen Knoop, 18 Trevor Hogan, 19 Cameron Jowitt / Keith Gleeson, 20 Chris Keane, 21 Christian Warner, 22 Girvan Dempsey.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Touch judges: Hugh Watkins (Wales), Simon Harris (Wales)
Television match official: Tony Rowlands (Wales)