Seven-try Leinster back on top

Date published: March 4 2017

Leinster saw off the challenge of the Scarlets at the RDS in Dublin on Saturday in a 45-9 win that takes them back to the PRO12 summit.

Luke McGrath scored twice in the opening period as the Irish province took a lead into the interval, but three Dan Jones' penalties kept the visitors in contention.

The third quarter, however, proved to be a completely different story, with the hosts touching down four times during that period.

Rhys Ruddock, Joey Carbery (2) and Ed Byrne all went over in 11 second half minutes before Jamison Gibson-Park crossed the whitewash late on.

It condemned the Scarlets, who will now focus on attempting to finish in fourth, to a fifth league defeat of the season. A victory at the RDS would have given Wayne Pivac's side a realistic chance of breaking into the top-two but, following this result, they will instead be looking over their shoulders at Ulster, who sit just behind them in the table.

The Llanelli-based outfit did give a spirited account of themselves before the break and actually took the lead through Jones, but they were outclassed from thereon in.

McGrath immediately responded for the hosts, taking play off the back of a scrum and scoring, before the Scarlets fly-half made it a one-point game.

However, an error from Jones saw the Leinster scrum-half charge the ball down and cross the whitewash for a 12-6 advantage.

The visiting playmaker partly redeemed himself by kicking another three-pointer to reduce the arrears at the interval, but that was the last time they would be within losing bonus-point territory.

Instead, the hosts began the second half with intensity and tempo and two tries in quick succession took them out of the away team's reach. Ruddock powered over for the first before Carbery exposed the Scarlets' frail left wing as they moved 26-9 ahead after 51 minutes.

Leinster continued to probe that side of the Welsh region's rearguard with the cross-field punt proving to be a particularly profitable tactic. Twice it yielded tries – for Carbery and Byrne – as a devastating spell of scoring finally came to an end.

With the match decided, the final quarter saw the Irish province ease off the gas, but they still managed one more try when Gibson-Park completed the rout in the last minute.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: McGrath 2, Ruddock, Carbery 2, E Byrne, Gibson-Park
Cons: Byrne 5

For Scarlets:
Pens: Jones 3

Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss (c), 1 Peter Dooley
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Tom Daly, 23 Barry Daly

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (c), 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Tom Price, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Declan Smith, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Ioan Nicholas

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)