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Sexton inspires Leinster to big win in Glasgow as Cullen's men seize control of pool

The eastern province laid down a real marker at Scotstoun as they ran in four tries.

Sexton celebrates his try.
Sexton celebrates his try.
Image: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Glasgow Warriors 18

Leinster 34

Ryan Bailey reports from Scotstoun 

THIS WAS QUITE the statement from Leinster, so much so that it’s difficult to imagine how this oft-perilous trip to Scotstoun could have gone any better for Leo Cullen’s side — they bullied Glasgow into submission, ran in four tries to gather a bonus point and seized complete control of Pool 3 along the way.

On this showing, it’s a wonder how they had not won here in six years but Leinster emphatically ended that hoodoo with an imposing performance inspired by the masterful Johnny Sexton, who accounted for 17 of his side’s points.

Two tries in either half, including a brace for Cian Healy, ensured the eastern province were always a step ahead of Glasgow, who are now staring down the barrel in Europe after back-to-back defeats.

Leinster, though, are primed for a tilt in this competition and laid down a serious marker of intent as their campaign gathers momentum — they’re building up a head of steam nicely.

And it was no coincidence that they produced their season’s best with Sexton back in the harness, with the out-half’s enduring class shining through as he pulled the strings and set the standard for the visitors.

There was a point in the first half — just after Glasgow had assumed the lead through Stuart Hogg’s fine try — when he became increasingly frustrated by the referee, but he used that to fuel an indomitable display.

Booed as he made his way off with 10 minutes remaining, Sexton applauded the disgruntled natives back. Tongue in cheek, but no better way to silence the jeers. Job done, and no better man to do it.

Noel Reid celebrates scoring their fourth try of the game with Dan Leavy Noel Reid scored the bonus-point try. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Rhys Ruddock was named the sponsor’s man-of-the-match and certainly the entire Leinster pack had strong games, with Healy’s first-half double rounding off a display in the trenches that confirms he’s back to his best.

Noel Reid, too, would have enjoyed the moment he sidestepped and slalomed his way through a weary Glasgow defence in the closing minutes to ensure this was the perfect away day for his side. To a man, Leinster stood up again and they now park this competition with 10 points from 10.

Glasgow were no match for them, and ended the game battered and bruised with their European credentials in tatters. They shouldn’t have riled Sexton in the first half, and certainly paid the price — even if Hogg set the game alight after a scrappy opening.

A first solid footing at the set-piece launched the platform for the fullback to run at the Leinster defence from deep, scything between Robbie Henshaw and Barry Daly with an electric burst before powerfully swatting Luke McGrath aside.

Suddenly, Glasgow had front-foot ball in Leinster territory and they converted it into 10 points in the space of three minutes.

Finn Russell dissected the posts from the tee when white shirts were caught offside, and then the out-half’s deft grubber had Leinster scrambling after a glorious wraparound. Tommy Seymour was quickest to the bouncing ball and shinned it over the line for Hogg to add the finishing touch with millimetres to spare. That was as good as it got for the Scots.

Hogg, pumped up, clenched his fists when the TMO eventually confirmed the grounding, but the momentum of the game swung again when his booming kick trickled dead and we came back 80 metres for a Leinster line-out.

From there, the visitors turned the screw.

After a period of sustained pressure, Sexton kicked for the corner, the rolling maul rumbled towards the line and Jack Conan carried with a typically combative surge for Healy to crash over the whitewash with Furlong on his shoulder. 10-10, which soon became 17-10 just before the break.

Rhys Ruddock with Ryan Wilson Rhys Ruddock was man of the match. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

Leinster were motoring all of a sudden, and the second score was all about the forwards too. Sexton, into the wind, turned down the shot at goal — why would you not? — and the pack did the rest, completely obliterating the hosts up front, with Healy emerging to power over from close-range.

Sexton arrowed the conversion between the posts from a tight angle, and responded with a punch of the air as the players headed for the sheds. The 32-year-old has always been quick to get in referees’ ears with complaints — justifiably, or not — and his temperament here, albeit a little fiery, was the backbone of his impassioned display.

He left his mark all over this game, no more so than when a trademark wraparound involving Scott Fardy unlocked the Glasgow door and created daylight between the sides.

Having stood firm at one end, Leinster pounced at the other with the sort of clinical edge Cullen has been talking about all season. McGrath’s initial burst brought them within metres of the Glasgow line and several phases later, Sexton dotted down under the posts.

The forwards, once again, had done the hard work and when McGrath fired it to his left, Fardy’s reverse offload for Sexton sent the out-half tearing through for Leinster’s third. The give-and-go was vintage Sexton, and Fardy’s contribution a moment of quality.

Still though, Glasgow wouldn’t go away.

They put Leinster under pressure from the restart and eventually created the overlap on this right-hand touchline to expose Leinster out wide and reduce the deficit through Seymour after Hogg had straightened and stood Dave Kearney up. Game on.

Jonny Gray tackled by Johnny Sexton and Sean Cronin Sexton scored 17 points for Leinster. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO

But Glasgow’s race, both on the afternoon and in their campaign, was run. Russell knocked over a penalty from in front of the posts to give the natives false home, as Leinster then finished strongly to secure a victory of huge significance.

Sexton was pulled back off the ball by Peter Horne and he duly stepped up to add to his own tally for the day, and Reid completed the job after Joey Carbery’s switch pass to send Leinster top.

They’re well on their way.

Glasgow scorers:
Tries: Stuart Hogg, Tommy Seymour
Penalties: Finn Russell [2 from 2], Stuart Hogg [0 from 1]
Conversions: Finn Russell [1 from 2]
Leinster scorers:
Tries: Cian Healy [2], Johnny Sexton, Noel Reid
Penalties: Johnny Sexton [2 from 2]
Conversions: Johnny Sexton [3 from 3], Ross Byrne [1 from 1]

GLASGOW WARRIORS: 15. Stuart Hogg, 14. Tommy Seymour, 13. Sam Johnson (Nick Grigg 88’), 12. Peter Horne, 11. Leonardo Sarto (Lee Jones 60’), 10. Finn Russell, 9. Ali Price (Henry Pyrgos’); 1. Jamie Bhatti (Alex Allan 60’), 2. George Turner (Pat MacArthur 64’), 3. Zander Ferguson, 4. Tim Swinson, 5. Jonny Gray, 6. Ryan Wilson (captain) (Rob Harley 26’), 7. Callum Gibbins, 8. Adam Ashe.

LEINSTER: 15. Joey Carbery, 14. Fergus McFadden, 13. Robbie Henshaw, 12. Noel Reid, 11. Barry Daly (Dave Kearney 41’), 10. Johnny Sexton (Ross Byrne 68’), 9. Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park 62’); 1. Cian Healy (Jack McGrath 50’), 2. Sean Cronin (James Tracy 50’), 3. Tadhg Furlong (Michael Bent 68’), 4. Devin Toner, 5. Scott Fardy (James Ryan 55’), 6. Rhys Ruddock, 7. Josh van der Flier (Dan Leavy 50’), 8. Jack Conan.

Referee: Jerome Garces.

Attendance: 7,351.

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