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Leinster Rugby (21) 45 - 8 (8) Scarlets
RDS Showground
Friday, 8 May 2009, 19:45
Att: 11,160

Leinster took on the Scarlets in a match that could have been a mouth-watering one had both sides not seen their league ambitions ended prematurely. As it was there were very different prizes in mind for both teams. For Scarlets it was their two Lions who would be looking to put in a performance to secure them a Test place against the Springboks and for the rest of the team Heineken Cup qualification was on their minds. For Leinster it was all about building momentum for the biggest game of many of their lives.

Leinster fielded a very strong team for their last home game of the season with Sexton and O'Brien the only changes to the team that beat Munster, both changes were enforced by injuries to Contepomi and Elsom.

The opening exchanges were lively at a blustery RDS and Leinster struggled initially to find any rhythm. An early chance for Sexton to score the opening points and quell any remaining disquiet about his ability with the boot was narrowly missed as the ball rebounded back off the upright. His Welsh counterpart wasn't faring too better as Jones missed a kickable effort for the Scarlets

Leinster did open the scoring through Luke Fitzgerald just past the quarter hour. The scrum was proving a solid base for Leinster and when Whitaker spread the ball wide to Sexton the ball moved through Nacewa to Horgan to Fitzgerald who finished with his trademark one handed place. Sexton atoned for his earlier miss by adding the extras.

Within five minutes Leinster had added a second and again the scrum was the platform. Again it was a nice pass from Sexton and a strong run by Nacewa that opened the defence and a simple pass to Horgan saw him finish under the posts, Sexton again successful with the boot.

Sexton's night went from the sublime to the ridiculous when he was sinbinned for a professional foul on the half hour. Scarlets took their chance and opened their account through Daniel Evans with Stephen Jones deposed as kicker. Scarlets were on the scoresheet again when Mark Jones crossed over the whitewash for a Scarlets try. Jones missed the conversion in an unhappy evening with the boot. The form of his two outhalves going into the summer will be worrying Ian McGeechan.

Leinster scored their third try just on half time. The score came off, you guessed it, a scrum. Whitaker fed D'Arcy who made a strong run into the Scarlets 22 and when the forwards had been repelled Whitaker used his backs, Fitzgerald again dotting down under the posts. Sexton continued an impressive night with the boot to convert.

Leinster seemed in control of the match and went into the half time break with a thirteen point advantage and seemingly hungry for more.

As last week Leinster started the second half with a try. Leinster made good inroads into Scarlet territory through the bulldozing work of Cian Healy and Stan Wright and when O'Driscoll received the ball he weaved around would be tacklers to touch down for the bonus point try. Sexton was again successful with the boot.

The match was effectively won but Leinster to their credit kept the intensity up. They scored again through Sexton whose solo effort made a mockery of the Scarlets defence. Shane Horgan added his second minutes after butchering a two man overlap with a touch down right in the corner. And the rout was completed with still a quarter hour to go when Girvan Dempsey touched down a clever Horgan kick through following a surging run.

In all a very satisfying night against, it must be said, rather meek opponents. Nevertheless it was pleasing to see Leinster bring intensity and free flowing movement to a game and to have the hunger long into the second half to seek tries. The kicking and all round play of Sexton is encouraging too. In all he was successful with 5/8 kicks although two of them rebounded off the upright. The young man's passing at times was a joy as it unlocked the Scarlet's defence. His own try was a sequence of dummies bought every time by Scarlet defenders and finished at a pace we barely knew was there.

There was also an emotional goodbye to Felipe Contepomi whose last appearance for the blues was last week in Croke Park. There was a definite sadness at the end as players and fans assembled to applaud the great man. Adiós Felipe, Gracias.

Leinster finish their rather disappointing league campaign against Dragons next week and it remains to be seen if the "big - guns" will be on display. For their last home game though the assembled few were treated to a seven try rout and all tries were from the recently maligned backs. Leinster will be brimming with confidence going into the big game in two weeks have managed to get themselves one important element. The big Mo'!

Team Lineups

Leinster Rugby
Scarlets
Tries Fitzgerald (2)
Horgan (2)
O'Driscoll
Sexton
Dempsey

M. Jones
Conversions Sexton (5)

Penalties

D. Evans
Sin Bin Sexton (27 - 37)


Teams Isa Nacewa 15 Daniel Evans
Shane Horgan 14 Mark Jones
Brian O'Driscoll
13 Gavin Evans
Gordon D'Arcy 12 Jon Davies
Luke Fitzgerald
11 Lee Williams
Jonathan Sexton
10 Stephen Jones (C)
Chris Whitaker 9 Martin Roberts

Cian Healy 1 Iestyn Thomas
Bernard Jackman 2 Matthew Rees
Stan Wright 3 Phil John
Leo Cullen (C)
4 Vernon Cooper
Malcolm O'Kelly 5 Dominic Day
Sean O'Brien
6 Josh Turnbull
Shane Jennings 7 Jonathan Edwards
Jamie Heaslip 8 David Lyons

Replacements John Fogarty (for Jackman, 53) 16 Deacon Manu (for John, 32)
Ronnie McCormack (for Healy, 63) 17 Ken Owens (for Rees, 59)
Devin Toner (for Cullen, 40) 18 Lou Reed (for Cooper, 63)
Stephen Keogh (for Jennings, 58) 19 Rob McCusker (for Turnbull, 53)
Simon Keogh (for Whitaker, 63) 20 Gavin Cattle (for M. Roberts, 69)
Fergus McFadden (for O'Driscoll, 63) 21 Rhys Priestland (for M. Jones, 53)
Girvan Dempsey (for Nacewa, 48) 22 Rob Higgitt (for S. Jones, 59)
 
Not considered
due to injury
C.J. van der Linde (Toe - Out for Season)
Rob Kearney (Illness)
Rocky Elsom (Knee Strain)
Felipe Contepomi (Knee - Out for Season)
   
 
Match Officials Referee: Neil Paterson (SRU)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson (IRFU), Jonathan Peake (IRFU)
4th Official: Kevin Beggs (ARLB)
5th Oficial: Sean Gallagher (ARLB)
TMO: John Carvill (IRFU)

by Sarah Lennon, © 2009-05-11

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