Planet Rugby

Leinster send Scarlets packing

08th May 2009 22:42

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Luke Fitzgerald

Luke Fitzgerald: A brace of tries

There was no sign of a Heineken Cup hangover at the RDS on Friday night, just champagne rugby all the way as Leinster ran in a 45-8 win over the Scarlets.

Wing duo Shane Horgan and Luke Fitzgerald scored two tries apiece as Michael Cheika's men sent out a clear warning to their European final opponents Leicester - last weekend's semi-final dismissal of Munster was no one-off.

The Scarlets, who won 52-23 on their last visit to Dublin, were simply overwhelmed in the second half as Brian O'Driscoll, man-of-the-match Jonathan Sexton, Horgan and Girvan Dempsey helped themselves to tries.

Sexton proved himself an able deputy for the injured Felipe Contepomi against Munster and he hardly put a foot wrong six days later, producing magnificent direct play and scoring 15 points.

He did spend time in the sin-bin in the first half and, while he was off, the Scarlets closed the gap to 14-8 thanks to a great individual try from winger Mark Jones.

But Fitzgerald and O'Driscoll scored either side of half-time, leaving the visitors out of the running with over half an hour remaining.

Sexton missed an early penalty kick, smacking it high off the left-hand upright and both sides had decent possession under each other's posts before Fitzgerald crossed on 16 minutes.

With the ball spun from right to left, Horgan came in off his wing to tie up defenders and a delayed pass from Isa Nacewa put Fitzgerald over to the left of the posts. Sexton converted and Stephen Jones uncharacteristically missed an easy chance to reply.

With their league title heading south to Munster, Leinster were attacking at will and Nacewa hit the line at pace, on an angled run, to send the supporting Horgan bounding over behind the posts for the second try.

Sexton converted again, only for Daniel Evans to cancel that kick out with a penalty of his own. The full-back scored from distance, stepping in for the limping Stephen Jones.

He recovered to play on and the visitors were finding joy on the left wing. Jon Davies was hauled down just short of the Leinster line after a bulldozing run, from which the grounded Sexton was sin-binned for kicking the ball away with a try on the cards.

Then Leinster defence was unlocked again out wide when Mark Jones did brilliantly to skip past three would-be tacklers and dot down, following a Cian Healy knock-on.

Stephen Jones failed to add the extras and Leinster grabbed a timely try, on the stroke of half-time, when Fitzgerald slipped through on the left for his third seven-pointer in two games.

Martin Roberts, David Lyons and Dominic Day carried the fight for the Welsh region but Leinster found an extra gear or two in the second half to put the result beyond doubt.

O'Driscoll, fresh from meeting the Queen at Thursday's Hillsborough Castle reception, ducked and dived his way over for a superb close-range score which racked up the bonus point.

Sexton then showed a clean pair of heels to the Scarlets defence as he dummied and darted his way over for a try which began on his own 10-metre line.

It soon became a question of how many as, despite a hatful of replacements, Leinster continued to press for tries. They got seven in the end as Horgan stretched over on the right after good continuity work and he turned provider for the final one when he chipped through for replacement Dempsey to dive over.

The scorers:

For Leinster:

Tries: Fitzgerald 2, Horgan 2, O'Driscoll, Sexton, Dempsey

Cons: Sexton 5

For the Scarlets:

Try: Mark Jones

Pen: Evans

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Shane Horgan, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Chris Whitaker, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Malcolm O'Kelly, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Stan Wright, 2 Bernard Jackman, 1 Cian Healy.

Replacements: 16 John Fogarty, 17 Ronan McCormack, 18 Devin Toner, 19 Stephen Keogh, 20 Simon Keogh, 21 Fergus McFadden, 22 Girvan Dempsey.

Scarlets: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Mark Jones, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Jon Davies, 11 Lee Williams, 10 Stephen Jones (c), 9 Martin Roberts, 8 David Lyons, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Dominic Day, 4 Vernon Cooper, 3 Phil John, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Iestyn Thomas.

Replacements: 16 Deacon Manu, 17 Ken Owens, 18 Lou Reed, 19 Rob McCusker, 20 Gavin Cattle, 21 Rhys Priestland, 22 Rob Higgitt.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

Touch judges: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Jonathan Peake (Ireland)

TMO: John Carvill (Ireland)

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