Leinster beat Blues to top table
December 2, 2011
Dave Kearney crossed twice for Leinster
© Getty Images
Leinster dispatched the Cardiff Blues in ruthless fashion at the RDS as they prevailed 52-9 running in six tries in the process.
Three Ceri Sweeney penalties had the Blues just 13-9 behind at the break, but Leinster simply went through the gears in the second half to add five more tries to Isaac Boss' earlier effort David Kearney went over twice in as many minutes, New Zealanders Nathan White and Leo Auva'a both touched down and Ian Madigan also breached the Cardiff defence as Joe Schmidt's men went top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table.
Sweeney and Fergus McFadden swapped penalties inside the opening five minutes, with the Blues, despite being hampered by international call-ups and injuries, gaining an early foothold.
But Leinster soon stamped their mark on the game. Sean O'Brien rampaged forward, bringing play into the Cardiff 22 and after Isa Nacewa was held up short, Boss burrowed over from a metre out. The scrum half's try was comfortably converted by McFadden who nailed a second penalty effort in the 14th minute, coping well with the windy conditions.
Leinster showed an eagerness to run the ball from deep and Nacewa made a slashing break which put the Blues under pressure. However, the Welsh region retrieved the situation and Sweeney clawed back three points midway through the half. Cardiff's scramble defence served them well again when a looping pass from Madigan put the busy Fionn Carr into space. He kicked ahead but Dan Fish, who started in place of the injured Chris Czekaj, was there to cover the danger. Casey Laulala led a counter attack for the Blues around the half-hour mark, but Sweeney was off target from a subsequent penalty.
The Blues out-half was successful with a kick on the stroke of half-time, after Cian Healy had gone offside and got involved in a skirmish with Cardiff captain Paul Tito. McFadden settled Leinster into the second half with an early penalty and the home attacks were soon coming in waves.
Carr took off over halfway, linked with Madigan and prop White was up in support to cover the final 22 metres and ship a despairing tackle from Fish before twisting over for a brilliant team try. McFadden converted and added a drop goal to leave the Welsh region 26-9 adrift. Cardiff hit back and Leinster had to make do without their captain Leo Cullen, who came in at the side of a ruck close to his try-line.
The Blues could not squeeze a score out of a series of five-metre scrums and after losing a large chunk of territory, their scrum half Richie Rees was sin-binned for killing Leinster ball in his 22. Just a minute later, an inviting pop pass from replacement Eoin Reddan sent Madigan dashing past two defenders for the province's third try of the night. McFadden converted and Jonathan Sexton, sprung from the bench, dangled a neat kick into the right corner for Kearney to notch his first try.
He was in under the posts barely two minutes later. Another excellent attack from deep saw Sean Cronin show good pace before Sexton and Nacewa carried forward and the young winger scampered through from the back of the ruck. Sexton added the extras to that try and also Auva'a's last-minute effort, which saw the powerful back rower take a quick tap and barge over from close range
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton