The television match official was busy as Leinster defeat the Scarlets by 22 points to 17, ruling out a try by the visitors at the start of the second half.
It was a messy game, with both sides struggling in the strong breeze. Missed kicks and knock-ons punctuated the first half which was dominated by the Scarlets in terms of possession.
Leinster’s defence was firm despite having to defend their line from the red attack. They coughed up the ball too easily each time they got their hands on it. A speculative long pass from James Lowe that was picked off by a Scarlet player an example of their sloppiness.
The first score took thirty-one minutes. Leinster’s first time with possession in the opposition twenty-two. They took the three points from a penalty and were thankful for it.
The score seemed to wake them up. The last minutes of the first half, in which they had to play into the stiff wind, were dominated by Leinster, culminating in a fine try by Rory O’Laughlin, who had a lot of work to do to wriggle through a tackler and extend his arm for the score.
The strength of the wind may have been a factor in Dan Jones’s missed penalty at the start of the second half, but he won’t be happy with the effort.
The TMO featured frequently, calling the referee’s attention to high tackles and overruling a try scored by the Scarlets in the second half.
Paul Asquith had intercepted a pass, this time from Ciarán Frawley, and was running almost unopposed to the line when somehow he managed to drop the ball just before the line in an attempted grounding.
It’s an odd one, and I might have turned a blind eye to it had I been the TMO. Asquith is in contact with the ball the whole time although he clearly loses control before the line. Let off number one for Leinster.
The Scarlets got back into the match with a nice try after a loose kick by Gibson-Park; Kieran Hardy scoring the first of two tries. Jones got another chance to kick a penalty and made no mistake the second time, levelling the match at 10-10.
Their purple patch did not last much longer as Leinster began to cut out the mistakes and dominate possession. This pressure culminated by two fine tries by the wingers, first James Lowe and then Barry Daly.
Lowe’s score was off a scrum set piece. Simple and expertly executed. The wide angle made the kick too difficult for Frawley
Daly’s try was a beauty. The winger scooped up a kick through from Noel Reid, making it look easy. Frawley nailed the kick, another tough one from the opposite touchline.
That should have been that. Two scores up. Friday night. Enjoy the weekend boys.
The Scarlets were not done. Hardy got his second try and the final few minutes were nervous ones for Leinster as gaps kept appearing in their defensive line.
They managed to hold on and force a mistake. There was no need to keep playing; when Leinster got the ball back it was straight into touch. We should have been two scores clear and searching for a bonus point. Instead the game ended with a massive sigh of relief.
Job done. With the international players off (bar Rob Kearney and Jack McGrath, both who showed a lot of rustiness and will have been glad to have had game time) it is key to win tight games like this.