Tadhg Furlong in the thick of it as Leinster storm past Scarlets

Ireland tighthead returned after 11 months out of action in impressive win for visitors

Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong is tackled by Phil Price and Sam Lousi of Scarlets during the Pro14 clash. Photo: Ryan Hiscott/Inpho

Leinster’s Tadhg Furlong is tackled by Phil Price and Sam Lousi of Scarlets during the Pro14 clash. Photo: Ryan Hiscott/Inpho

 

Scarlets 25 Leinster 52

Tadhg Furlong gave Andy Farrell the pre-Six Nations boost he was looking for as he negotiated 40 minutes of competitive rugby in Leinster’s 52-25 Pro14 victory over Scarlets at Parc Y Scarlets.

With a bonus-point wrapped up before the break, Leinster head coach Leo Cullen was able to replace his international tighthead for the second half and send him back to the Irish camp with a five-star rating.

It was the British and Irish Lions front-row star’s first game since packing down against England in last year’s Six Nations on February 23rd.

Leinster’s Ross Molony wins a line out. Photo: Ryan Hiscott/Inpho
Leinster’s Ross Molony wins a line out. Photo: Ryan Hiscott/Inpho

Since then he has been dogged by calf and hamstring injuries but now he can start preparing for a return trip to Wales for next weekend’s clash with Wales in Cardiff.

He got his first chance to pack down against veteran journeyman Phil Price in the fourth minute shortly after Sam Costello had kicked the home side into an early lead. That was uneventful, but Leinster were awarded a free-kick at the second scrum.

Price eventually went off for an HIA after 34 minutes and that brought on Wales under-20 prop Kemsley Mathias for a brief masterclass.

Both teams were missing their front-line internationals — 17 on the Leinster side and 12 with the Scarlets — and it turned into a pretty routine victory for the reigning Pro14 champions as they worked their way back to the top of Conference A to stay on course for another final appearance.

The Scarlets kicked poorly, gave away too many penalties and were eventually overpowered after a spirited first quarter. Two of the four first-half tries came from driving line-outs from 15 metres out, the second being awarded as a penalty try, and there was another from the base of a five-metre scrum and the bonus-point score came on the narrow side of another close-range lineout.

To their credit, the Scarlets hit back straight away after Dan Leavy bagged the first try from a close-range scrum. A great, flat midfield pass from Costello put number eight Uzair Cassiem into a hole and he ran from halfway to the 22 before sending scrum-half Dane Blacker racing to the line.

Costello’s conversion made it 10-7 to the home side, but the only other points they could muster in the first half was a second penalty. Leinster added three more tries from James Tracy, Ronan Kelleher and a penalty try. Harry Byrne added two conversions and a penalty.

Skipper Luke McGrath, full-back Max O’Reilly and replacement centre David Hawkshaw ran in three more tries after the break, all of which Byrne converted, to take them through the half-century mark.

Scorers: Scarlets – D Blacker, W Homer try each; A O’Brien try, con; S Costelow 2 pens, con. Leinster – D Leavy, J Tracy, C Kelleher, L McGrath, M O’Reilly, D Hawkshaw try each; pen try; H Byrne 7 cons, pen

Scarlets: J McNicholl; T Prydie, T Morgan, S Hughes (capt), R Conbeer (P Asquith 67); S Costelow (A O’Brien 66), D Blacker (T Homer 61); P Price (K Mathias 61), M Jones (T Davies 66), J Sebastian (W Kruger 66); N Jones, S Lousi (C Tuipolotu 66); B Thomson, U Casseim (yc 36-46), D Davis (T Ratuva 56).

Leinster: M O’Reilly; C Kelleher, L Turner (J Osborne 45), C Frawley (D Hawkshaw 72), D Kearney; H Byrne, L McGrath (capt) (H O’Sullivan 71); P Dooley (E Byrne 56), J Tracy (S Cronin 56), T Furlong; (T Clarkson ht), R Molony, R Baird; J Murphy, J Conan (J Dune 61), D Leavy (S Fardy 77),

Referee: M Adamson (Scotland).

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