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Leinster get their kicks with 26 points in 20 clinical second half minutes against Scarlets

Luke McGrath and Joey Carbery both scored twice as Leinster ran in seven against the Welsh outfit.

Image: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Leinster 45

Scarlets 9

Sean Farrell reports from the RDS

LEINSTER COMPLETED A 100% return from their Six Nations-period Pro12 games with a seven-try win over Scarlets.

The Welsh outfit had come into this fixture in form and fourth place in the league after an away victory over Munster. But after sticking close to Leinster for the first half, they were shaken off by clinical cross-field kicks from Ross Byrne and 26 points in the 20 minutes after half-time.

Leo Cullen’s decision to play both of his 21-year-old out-half options in the back-line was richly rewarded as the number 10 pulled the strings superbly in the second half while Joey Carbery ran in two tries as a fullback.

The inclement weather we expected to blight this as a spectacle was mercifully absent at kick-off, but by half-time a fine wet film was drifting across the RDS pitch. Fortunately for Leinster, they had the lead and two tries on the board at that stage.

Cullen’s men showed the confidence of a side who were making a habit of scoring in and around 40 points. While Dan Jones was happy to take the early penalty, tonight’s captain Richardt Strauss wanted to do damage via the scrum and passed up a straightforward penalty in favour of the set-piece. It paid dividends, Luke McGrath sniping right around the solid foundations and muscling his way over for a ninth minute try.

Luke McGrath scores a try despite Jonathan Evans Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

McGrath was soon holding off another would-be tackler and grounding another try. The scrum-half managed to charge down a Jones clearance kick and held off the out-half’s attempt to limit the damage.

Though he was unable to stop McGrath with his arms, Jones did manage to keep his side in the game with his boot, kicking penalties to ensure the deficit was just 12 – 9 at the half-time interval.

Jack Conan with Dan Jones

In truth, the visitors’ position ought to have been far stronger. Wayne Pivac’s men dominated the second quarter of the game and created an overlap worthy of a try – only for Tom Williams to spill the ball when the try-line was begging to be crossed.

Leinster would not put themselves in that position again. They emerged for the second half utterly re-focused; their line-speed and tackling had urgency, they carried with anger and once Fergus McFadden brilliantly plucked a cross-field kick out of the air, they pulled clear on the scoreboard.

Rhys Ruddock celebrates his try with Ross Byrne Ross Byrne celebrates Rhys Ruddock's try. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Rhys Ruddock, having put in a solid shift in the first half, drove over a deserved try. Three of Leinster’s four tries in the 20 minutes after the break came from Byrne’s kicking, but he showed his handling skills to skip a pass wide right to allow Carbery run in his first of the evening.

Along with Ross Byrne’s accuracy, the injection of electricity provided by Adam Byrne in one-on-one situations made the tactic work a treat. Twice the Kildare man was given the chance to terrorise DTH van der Merwe, and terrorise he did; jinking left and right before making a cut. Though he was caught both times, but both times he popped the ball up for a willing try-scorer – first Carbery, and then prop Ed Byrne, returning from 28 long months out injured.

Jamison Gibson-Park completed the rout with a late score in the corner, but the contest was over and Leinster safely heading back to the top of the table with 20 minutes on the clock. That left enough time and space for Nigel Owens to issue a yellow card to a ball-boy who managed to hit the referee in his haste to get the pill back in play.

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Scorers

Leinster

Tries L McGrath (2) R Ruddock, J Carbery (2), E Byrne, J Gibson-Park

Conversions: R Byrne (5/7)

Scarlets

Penalties: D Jones (3/3)

Leinster

15. Joey Carbery
14. Adam Byrne (Barry Daly ’40)
13. Zane Kirchner
12. Noel Reid (Tom Daly ’55)
11. Fergus McFadden
10. Ross Byrne
9. Luke McGrath (Jamison Gibson-Park ’60)

1. Peter Dooley (Ed Byrne ’56)
2. Richardt Strauss (Bryan Byrne ’56)
3. Michael Bent (Mike Ross ’48)
4. Ross Molony
5. Hayden Triggs (Mike McCarthy ’60)
6. Rhys Ruddock (Max Deegan ’68)
7. Dan Leavy
8. Jack Conan

Scarlets

15 Johnny Mcnicholl
14 Tom Williams
13 Steff Hughes (Ioan Nicholas ’44)
12 Hadleigh Parkes Capt
11 DTH van der Merwe
10 Dan Jones (Aled Thomas ’55)
9 Jonathan Evans

1 Wyn Jones (Luke Garrett ’68)
2 Ryan Elias (Dafydd Hughes ’69)
3 Werner Kruger (Nicky Thomas ’48)
4 Tom Price (Ryner Bernardo ’59)
5 Tadhg Beirne
6. Aaron Shingler
7 James Davies (Morgan Allen ’49)
8 Will Boyde

Referee: Nigel Owens (WRU)

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Sean Farrell

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