Fitzgerald's renaissance a bonus amid bonuses for Leinster
Schmidt also felt the need to manage O’Driscoll and maybe he should have left him on ice altogether. Damage to his right ankle – November’s surgery was on the left – caused a ripple of concern on an otherwise comfortable night.
Typically, O’Driscoll refused to leave the field but it felt like the Ireland captain should be protected from himself. Leinster could have played the last few minutes with 14 players.
But O’Driscoll knows best. Dismissing the medics, he slipped to inside centre before dragging the entire Scarlets midfield with him on a perfect decoy run that allowed Ian Madigan scurry over for what may yet prove a valuable fifth try.
Other tales from the night? Jamie Heaslip and Healy are nearing peak form three weeks out from the Six Nations opener in Cardiff. Healy’s try-scoring impact and 12 carries prompted Schmidt to pull him at half-time.
Schmidt also felt the need to namecheck Rhys Ruddock’s industry afterwards, making a rare start after Seán O’Brien’s 11th-hour withdrawal due to illness.
To the details. Leinster’s intent to gather the maximum 10 points over their two final pool games was instantly noticeable. Smelling the blood of their opponents in the opening collisions, Jonathan Sexton and Leo Cullen over-ruled the pre-match game plan, instead lunging directly for the jugular.
Ignoring three semi-difficult shots at goal, Sexton went down the tramline as Cullen’s lineout-maul did the rest. Within 23 minutes they had two of the four tries as Shane Jennings’ effort mirrored Healy’s earlier touchdown, both men peeling off the ruck and battering over.
Fitzgerald dived in at the corner for the third try on 34 minutes but Scarlets outhalf Aled Brew did expose a numerical advantage – Fergus McFadden was receiving treatment – by foot-passing to Liam Williams, in space out wide, for a try on half-time.
That proved the zenith of the visitors’ resistance.
The second half belonged to Leinster. Rob Kearney stepped against the grain, spinning out of two shockingly poor tackles to flop under the posts after 43 minutes.
Despite securing the bonus point, they kept pouring forward but the glut of tries did not follow. This could prove significant or mightn’t matter at all. Either way, Leinster remain on course for a 20-point finish.
But this outing should be savoured for the return of a special player, poised to enter his prime a fit man.
Luke knew alright.