Leinster completed the Heineken Cup double over the Scarlets at RDS on Saturday, inflicting an empathic 39-7 victory over the visitors.
Leinster completed the Heineken Cup double over the Scarlets at RDS on Saturday, inflicting an empathic 39-7 victory over the visiting Welshman.
Whilst the Scarlets were poor, the manner of Leinster's seven-try win will reverberate across Europe. The reigning champions are back in contention.
But they have yet to shake off London Irish. The Exiles' bonus-point win over Brive means that they sit alongside Leinster at the top of Pool Six. The Dubliners' visit to the Madejski Stadium is going to be absolutely massive. Clear your diary!
But we digress, back to matters in hand.
The hosts, with the wind at their backs, made an uncharacteristic start with Rob Kearney spilling two easy marks in the opening minutes of the game, and the errors sandwiched a missed penalty from Shaun Berne.
You don't come to the home of the European champions and expect things to go your way, but the Scarlets duly sensed blood and looked to up the tempo.
But order was soon restored as Leinster's two miscreants atoned for their sins.
Berne sucked in a herd of defenders to make space for Kearney in the corner, and there was visible relief on the Lion's face as he dotted down in the shadow of the corner flag. Berne failed to add the extras, but morale had been restored.
Things then went from bad to worse for the Scarlets. Their first scrum imploded under pressure and Stephen Jones missed two relatively straight-forward shies at goal at a decidedly blustery RDS.
A beautiful crossfield kick from Berne then picked out Shane Horgan who found Kearney on his inside, and the full-back duly crossed for his second. Berne missed the long-range conversion. 10-0 after 20 minutes of play.
With Irish hands at the scruff of the game's neck, it lost its spark.
The Scarlets attempted to up the ante but were slapped down in emphatic fashion as Horgan picked off a Welsh pass and ran a full 80 yards to dot down on the stroke of half-time. Berne was again off-target with the conversion.
Leinster exploded into the second half, running the ball into the wind as the hunt for the bonus-point began in earnest.
It really wasn't a question of 'if' the fourth try would materialise, more 'when' and 'who'.
Gordon D'Arcy punctuated the debate just moments later, in the 45th minute, by stepping through the visiting defence to score under the sticks, making it easy for the misfiring Berne, and the fly-half got a big cheer from the crowd as the flags went up.
The other half of the dynamic duo then made his presence felt. Brian O'Driscoll had been having a quite game, but he muscled his way over for Leinster's fifth.
It was back to D'Arcy for number six, and O'Driscoll again answered back by claiming number seven.
But not before Rhys Priestland stole away for a consolation try, benefiting from an awkward bounce to strike from long range.
Tries: Kearney 2, Horgan, D'Arcy 2, O'Driscoll 2
Con: Bearne 2
Con: S Jones
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Shaun Berne, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O'Brien, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 CJ Van Der Linde, 2 John Fogarty, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Bernard Jackman, 17 Mike Ross, 18 Stan Wright, 19 Malcolm O'Kelly, 20 Stephen Keogh, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Fergus McFadden, 23 Girvan Dempsey.
Scarlets: 15 Rhys Priestland, 14 Darren Daniel, 13 Sean Lamont, 12 Jon Davies, 11 Andrew Fenby, 10 Stephen Jones, 9 Martin Roberts, 8 David Lyons, 7 Jon Edwards, 6 Simon Easterby, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Deacon Manu, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Iestyn Thomas.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Phil John, 18 Jamie Corsi, 19 Vernon Cooper, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Daniel Evans, 23 Gareth Maule.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (Eng)