Leinster’s power eventually told as two penalty tries helped them continue their fine form in the RaboDirect PRO12 and moved them top of the table with a 31-19 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.
Jack McGrath and Darren Hudson also got on the scoresheet for Leinster, who were given a sizable scare by two tries in three minutes shortly after the break for the Dragons, but came away with all five points on offer.
It’s a fifth win in their last six RaboDirect PRO12 matches for Leinster but while the Dragons had not beaten an Irish province on their travels since 2008, quickfire tries from Ashley Smith and Richie Rees had threatened an upset at the RDS.
Leinster began on the front foot and enjoyed plenty of the early territory and possession but as a result of the conditions, and some resolute defence from the Dragons, they were kept at bay.
On 12 minutes however, the deadlock was broken when the hosts were awarded a penalty and Ian Madigan, getting the nod at fly-half in favour of Jimmy Gopperth, slotted through the posts for 3-0.
Leinster continued to press for the opening try of the match but on 27 minutes the Dragons levelled things up thanks to a drop goal from Jason Tovey.
The defending RaboDirect PRO12 champions finally had their first try of the match on 38 minutes when McGrath forced his way over, Leinster capitalising on the extra man after prop Nathan Buck had been sent to the sin bin. Madigan added the extras for 10-3 at the break.
The Dragons came roaring out of the blocks and two tries in three minutes stunned Leinster and handed the visitors a 13-10 lead.
First it was Smith who dotted down after some impressive work at the breakdown from the Dragons and then it was Rees’ turn after Leinster were turned over again.
The Dragons led by six on 53 minutes when Tovey slotted a penalty but that stirred Leinster into action and on the hour mark they had the lead again when they were awarded a penalty try with Madigan converting. Dragons replacement Jevon Groves was sent to the sin bin to compound their woes.
Leinster smelled blood and they had the cushion that they wanted when referee Kevin Beggs awarded a second penalty try on 67 minutes, Madigan’s conversion giving the hosts an eight-point lead.
A Tovey penalty on 70 minutes ensured that Leinster could not coast to the final whistle however but try as they might the Dragons could not find their way back into the game.
Their night ended on a bad note when Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro was shown a red card in the final minute for a tip tackle on Isaac Boss and Leinster rubbed salt into the wounds as a late try from Hudson sealed the bonus point and denied the Dragons one of their own.