Return of big guns puts pep in Leinster step
Edinburgh galvanised themselves into an attacking force but their attempt to get the ball over the line was thwarted by illegal poaching from Jamie Heaslip that earned the Leinster number eight a yellow card.
But depleted Leinster launched themselves at the Edinburgh line ending with replacement Ian Madigan plunging over for the bonus point try, converted by Sexton. A late try for Edinburgh by prop Willem Nel and the conversion by Francis made the scoreline look better for Edinburgh but it was a comprehensive Leinster win.
Leinster's returning trio Clockwatch
25 seconds: Rob Kearney’s natural authority is evident early on, catching a punt and seeking contact.
1 minute: Brian O’Driscoll takes a heavy tackle on his first carry off an inside pass from Jonathan Sexton.
13 minutes: O’Driscoll and Kearney are both involved in a try chance but Fionn Carr clumsily chips into touch.
18 minutes:Kearney catches Sexton’s restart. O’Driscoll switches the flow of an attack, stepping two defenders before Allan Jacobsen catches him square on the chin. Sexton’s resultant penalty levels matters at 3-3 as O’Driscoll receives treatment.
24 minutes:Kearney goes up highest to catch a garryowen that initiates a sustained period of Leinster pressure.
25 minutes: Luke Fitzgerald gets his paws on the ball for the first time since April 29th, taking contact and recycling possession.
32 minutes:Using the same move that shredded the Cardiff defence in last season’s Heineken Cup quarter-final, Sexton puts Fitzgerald into space. A penalty try follows moments later.
Half-time:17-6 but it’s Gordon D’Arcy’s try and general excellence that outshines his returning team-mates.
42 minutes: Fitzgerald is immediately more noticeable in the second half, actively seeking the opportunity to run with the ball.
44 minutes: Fitzgerald passes to Kearney just inside the Leinster half. But the fullback knocks on.
57 minutes:Kearney and Fitzgerald track Sexton over the try-line for Leinster’s third and killer touchdown. Neither shows any sign of fatigue after long lay-offs. O’Driscoll is also still motoring.
61 minutes: After taking plenty of hits to his back, Kearney is replaced by Andrew Conway but shows little sign of any recurring problems.
62 minutes: Ian Madigan replaces an understandably drained looking Fitzgerald. It has been eight months.
69 minutes: Clearly eager for the Ireland captain to regain match sharpness, Joe Schmidt replaces D’Arcy with Isaac Boss and leaves O’Driscoll on.
80 minutes: O’Driscoll’s ankle, and the rest of him, holds up as he even makes two tackles in the final skirmish. His latest return, from a second surgery in 12 months, keeps alive the prospect of becoming Lions captain for a second time on what would be his fourth tour this summer.
Compiled by GAVIN CUMMISKEY