Leinster grab bonus point ahead of key double-header
Scarlets side missing their Welsh players beaten at the RDS
Brendan Macken scores leinster’s opening try during the RaboDirect Pro 12 against Scarlets at the RDS. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Leinster 36 Scarlets 19: It took Leinster an hour to get their bonus point at the RDS tonight in what was a relatively pedestrian game.
Then again, there was always going to be a dip from the manic intensity witnessed at the Aviva Stadium last Sunday.
Still, there was plenty of information banked about Leinster’s make-up over the potentially season-defining fortnight that follows.
Zane Kirchner looked every inch the veteran Springbok that he is with plenty of input from fullback.
The Scarlets, decimated by Wales call-ups despite today’s match against Australia being outside the IRB international window, failed in their early attempts to bludgeon a path to the home try line.
It’s no secret that Leinster have built this golden era in their history around an impregnable defence. With Murphy to the fore, in both attack and defence, the Scarlets retreated under the Anglesea stand with zero beside their name.
The Leinster scrum and Kirchner combining telepathically with Luke Fitzgerald had a lot to do with the 22 points beside their name.
Macken sped over for the opening try after nine minutes. It was a typically beautiful flowing score initiated by a big gallop from Murphy and a gliding carry up the short side by Kirchner.
Referee Ian Davies seemed to err on the side of finicky by disallowing Kirchner’s first try in a blue jersey soon after. Again, this came off some wonderful inter-play with Fitzgerald.
No matter. Jack McGrath burrowed into Jacobie Adriaanse and the five-metre scrum was reversed. Smelling blood, the Leinster scrum went for broke, winning another penalty, leaving Davies with no option when the Scarlets buckled en masse off the third shunt.
Ian Madigan added the easy conversion from under the posts.
Further scrum dominance led indirectly to McGrath muscling over for the third try with just 23 minutes on the, albeit faulty, clock.
Back came the Scarlets but the blue wall was solid, although Leo Cullen got 10 minutes in the sin bin for killing ball on the stroke of half-time.
Head coach Simon Easterby, the long serving Irish blindside, reacted by replacing his entire frontrow.
They did profit from the numerical advantage but the manner in which they did was utterly against the way Leinster go about their business.
Not longer after Cullen returned Sione Timani took a 10-minute break for tripping up Lote Tuqiri.
Tuqiri’s future in Dublin remains shrouded in doubt as his three month contract is now up. News on that is expected soon. Presuming he is not in consideration for Saturday’s trip to Northampton, the backline O’Connor settle on will be intriguing.
The trust shown in Macken at 13 is paying off to such an extent that he appears to be Brian O’Driscoll’s understudy now. Otherwise, why pick Fitzgerald at left wing?
The Kearney brothers are also due to come back in but that is easier said than done, especially for Dave Kearney as Kirchner and Fitzgerald look undroppable.
O’Connor may see it differently.
Anyway, that’s next week’s problem and this became a contest again before the hour mark when Gareth Maule crossed for the Scarlets’ second try after a counter attack from deep inside their half. Aled Thomas’s conversion made it 22-12.
O’Connor reacted by sending in Jimmy Gopperth for Gordon D’Arcy, with Madigan switching to inside centre, and Seán Cronin coming on for Aaron Dundon.
The last and fifth try was Wallaby to Kiwi to Springbok as Kirchner went over in the corner after Tuqiri and Gopperth contributed.
Madigan did his chances of retaining the 10 jersey no harm by landing the touchline conversion in a game where he missed only one from six .
Scoring sequence – 5 mins: I Madigan pen, 3-0; 9 mins: B Macken try, 8-0; 18 mins: Pen try, 13-0; I Madigan conv, 15-0; 23 mins: J McGrath try, 20-0; I Madigan conv, 22-0. Half-time. 47 mins: G Davies try, 22-5; 58 mins: G Maule try, 22-10; A Thomas conv, 22-12; 61 mins: E Reddan try, 27-12; I Madigan conv, 29-12; 75 mins: Z Kirchner try, 34-12; I Madigan, 36-12; 80 mins: A Warren try 36-17; A Thomas conv, 36-19.
LEINSTER: Z Kirchner; L Tuqiri, B Macken, G D’Arcy, L Fitzgerald; I Madigan, E Reddan; J McGrath, A Dundon, M Moore; L Cullen, M McCarthy; R Ruddock, S Jennings (capt), J Murphy. Replacements: M Ross for M Moore (23 mins, inj), D Ryan for S Jennings (55 mins, inj), J Gopperth for G D’Arcy, S Cronin for A Dundon (both 59 mins), M Bent for J McGrath, D Fanning for L Fitzgerald, L McGrath for E Reddan (all 62 mins), T Denton for M McCarthy (67 mins).
SCARLETS: G Owen; N Reynolds, G Maule, A Warren, F CLimo; A Thomas, G Davies; P John (capt), K Myhill, J Adriaanse; J Ball, J Snyman; A Shingler, J Barclay, S Timani. Replacements: E Philips for K Myhill, R Evans for P John, H Pungea for J Adriaanse (all half-time), R Kelly for J Snyman, A Davies for G Davies, J Lewis for G Maule (all 59 mins), J Turnbull for S Timani (78 mins).
Referee: I Davies (Wales).