Rob Kearney ignited the Leinster attack as the defending GUINNESS PRO12 champions stormed past the Scarlets for their first win of the season…
Stung by Glasgow Warriors last week, Matt O'Connor's side bagged a bonus point and six tries in all at the RDS with braces from both Rob Kearney and 22-point star Ian Madigan.
Kearney and Scott Williams swapped tries inside the opening 14 minutes, with the returning full-back's second effort and a Madigan seven-pointer moving the hosts 21-5 clear by half-time.
Madigan added his second and flanker Dominic Ryan also touched down while Scarlets prop Phil John was in the sin-bin.
Replacement prop Tadhg Furlong grabbed his first score for the province with 10 minutes left, before Johan Snyman hit back with a late consolation try for the Llanelli men.
Liam Williams' early season woes continued as a groin injury in the warm-up forced his withdrawal just a week on from his two yellow cards against Ulster. Gareth Owen switched to full-back with Adam Warren coming into the centre.
The wind-backed Scarlets had the first scoring opportunity in the Dublin sunshine but Rhys Priestland pulled a third minute penalty wide.
Leinster got on the front foot after Mike Ross charged down a kick and Kearney weaved into space in the 22. The pressure was maintained and Madigan brilliantly flicked on a Jimmy Gopperth pass to allow Brendan Macken put Kearney over in the right corner.
Madigan swung over a fine conversion but the Welsh region replied on the quarter hour, profiting from a misplaced pass by Gopperth as centre Williams hacked on twice and the ball bounced up nicely for him to claim an unconverted try near the left corner flag.
Leinster managed to break up a scrappy spell with their second try in the 28th minute. Clever work by Zane Kirchner and Kearney saw the latter dink an inviting kick towards the try-line. Darragh Fanning jumped for it with two defenders and the ball broke kindly for the onrushing Kearney to touch down himself.
Television match official Alan Rogan ruled out any knock-ons before the grounding and Madigan swept over his second successful conversion, albeit with Kirchner having to hobble off soon after. Clontarf's Mick McGrath came on to make his debut.
Leinster's confidence was up and the Scarlets' defence was crumbling, Kearney again featuring with a strong carry before Gopperth's long pass gave Madigan a simple run-in to the right of the posts.
Owen, probably the Scarlets' best player, came to their rescue just before the break when dislodging the ball from Sean Cronin's grasp when a fourth Leinster try seemed inevitable.
Scarlets loosehead John saw yellow in the 52nd minute for taking a lifter out in a lineout and Leinster's bonus point score came in the very next attack – Gopperth switched play to the right where Madigan's arcing run saw him dart in between John Barclay and Jordan Williams and reach over in the corner.
Madigan converted and swiftly took his tally to 20 points when adding the extras to Ryan's 58th-minute lunge from close range.
The tiring Scarlets were now struggling in the loose and at scrum time and had Ben Marshall been able to hold onto fellow replacement Eoin Reddan's pass, it would have been try number six.
But Wexford youngster Furlong was able to gather a ball that had been ripped free by Scott Williams, close to the visitors' line, to push the margin out to 37 points.
There were more tries in Leinster with Old Belvedere's Steve Crosbie making an impact off the bench, however the Scarlets managed to have to the final say when second row Snyman crashed over in injury-time after man-of-the-match Jamie Heaslip had been carded for a deliberate knock-on.
LEINSTER SCORERS: R. Kearney (2 tries), I. Madigan (2 tries and 6 conversions), D. Ryan (1 try), T. Furlong (1 try)
SCARLETS SCORERS: S. Williams (1 try), J. Snyman (1 try), S. Shingler (1 conversion)
15: Rob Kearney (Steve Crosbie, 59)
14: Zane Kirchner (Mick McGrath, 31)
13: Brendan Macken
12: Ian Madigan
11: Darragh Fanning
10: Jimmy Gopperth
9: Isaac Boss (Eoin Reddan, 54)
1: Jack McGrath (Cian Healy, 54)
2: Sean Cronin (Bryan Byrne, 66)
3: Mike Ross (Tadhg Furlong, 62)
4: Devin Toner (Ben Marshall, 54)
5: Mike McCarthy
6: Dominic Ryan
7: Shane Jennings (Kevin McLaughlin, half-time)
8: Jamie Heaslip CAPTAIN
SCARLETS: G. Owen; H. Robinson, A. Warren, S. Williams, J. Williams; R. Priestland, R. Williams; P. John, K. Owens CAPTAIN, R. Jones, J. Ball, J. Snyman, A. Shingler, J. Barclay, R. Pitman.
REPLACEMENTS: E. Phillips, R. Evans, P. Edwards, R. Kelly, R. McCusker, A. Davies, S. Shingler, G. Davies.
REFEREE: Marius Mitrea (FIR), ASSISTANT REFEREES: Mark Patton, Jonathan Peak (both IRFU), CITING COMMISSIONER: Peter Ferguson (IRFU), TMO: Alan Rogan (IRFU).