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Leinster back on top with success over Scarlets

Leinster returned to the top of the Guinness PRO12 table thanks to a seven-try victory over Scarlets for their 22nd straight home win.

The home side enjoyed much of the possession in the first half but only held a narrow three-point lead as two Luke McGrath tries were added to by three Daniel Jones penalties for the visitors.

But after the restart Leinster turned on the style and Rhys Ruddock and Joey Carbery scores quickly brought up the bonus point.

Carbery added a second before Ed Byrne – on his return to the RDS after 28 months out injured – and a late Jamison Gibson-Park meant Scarlets were well beaten for their first Guinness PRO12 loss in six games.

Scarlets started the game stronger and they had the lead after just three minutes as Jones slotted a penalty through the posts.

But Leinster came straight back at the Welsh side and after Peter Dooley almost crossed the whitewash the visitors were pinged for not releasing right on their tryline and McGrath powered over from the back of a scrum for the game’s first try.

Ross Byrne added the extras but the home side’s lead was cut to just one midway through the half as Jones kicked his second penalty.

But Jones’ next kick was not as successful as McGrath charged him down and collected the ball to go over for his second try of the evening, although Byrne couldn’t convert.

The Scarlets threatened to score a try of their own just before the half-hour mark but after a knock on they had to make do with another Jones three-pointer.

That meant Leinster led 12-9 at half-time as despite some late pressure the Scarlets defence held firm and were grateful for Nigel Owens’ whistle.

Leinster picked up where they left off following the restart but they once again faced stubborn Scarlets defending. But they didn’t have to wait long for a third try as Fergus McFadden claimed a Byrne cross kick and after the ball was moved left to right Ruddock crashed over.

Byrne converted and he was at it again as Leinster wrapped up the bonus point when Carbery went over on 52 minutes.

That was Carbery’s fifth try in as many games and he didn’t have to wait long for a sixth as just moments later an Adam Byrne offload sent the full-back over again, although Ross Byrne failed to add the extras.

Leinster were in full flow now and just before the hour a Ross Byrne cross kick was collected by Adam Byrne who then sent Ed Byrne over for a first-ever Guinness PRO12 try.

And with 80 minutes on the clock Gibson-Park went over for a seventh try as Scarlets were kept scoreless in the second half.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017, 27th May, Aviva Stadium, Dublin.
Ticket Information: Fans can still avail of an exclusive number of €35 tickets. Book via www.ticketmaster.ie. Further information: www.pro12rugby.com/final

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