Sexton steers Leinster to victory
March 4, 2011
Sexton landed 16 points with the boot at the RDS
© Getty Images
Leinster kept the pressure on Magners League leaders Munster with a 26-15 victory over the Scarlets at the RDS.
Jonathan Sexton returned to provincial duty to kick four penalties and convert tries in each half from Niall Morris and Isaac Boss. Rhys Thomas touched down for the Scarlets, who had the final say with a late consolation try from Nic Reynolds.
The game pitted third against fourth and, as such, it was no surprise that the first half was a cagey affair. With a neck injury ruling Iestyn Thomas out, Gareth Maule captained the Scarlets and he knocked on as the visitors looked to create an early opening on the Leinster 22.
Rhys Priestland dragged a drop goal wide after a turnover from Josh Turnbull, but it was Leinster who managed to open the scoring through winger Morris. He was invited forward on the right wing and fended off a poor tackle from Priestland to gallop over in the corner. Sexton, benched by Ireland at the weekend, converted for good measure.
The Scarlets were eager to put the ball through the hands and teenager George North saw a good deal of possession, even if Leinster were quick to close him down. Priestland had two penalty misses either side of a successful 20th minute shot from Sexton, before he redeemed himself near the half-hour mark.
It closed the gap for the Scarlets down to 10-3 at half-time, but Leinster looked solid with Sexton and Isa Nacewa putting in some clever kicks.
Leinster grabbed the lion's share of territory and possession in the early stages of the second half and the Scarlets let their discipline slip, with Sexton clipping over successive penalties in and around the 22 and a third from the 35-metre range. Replacement scrum-half Gareth Davies kept the Scarlets pack plugging away and their endeavour was rewarded with a close-range score from prop Thomas.
But when Leinster barged back into the Scarlets' 22, successive penalties led to Maule being sin-binned for offside. The hosts wasted little time and Boss shrugged off Davies' attempted tackle to score to the right of the posts, and Sexton's conversion sealed it. The winning margin was cut to 11 points when Reynolds nipped over in the left corner for a second Scarlets try, following some precise passing from Priestland and Regan King.
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