Leinster Rugby were made to work all the way to get victory over Emirates Lions in the United Rugby Championship at the RDS Arena.

On his 200th appearance for Leinster, Rhys Ruddock led out a combination that included second row Joe McCarthy making his second start on his first at home.

Leinster were giving away a massive eight kilos per forward which the Lions utilised at the first scrum only for Jordan Hendrikse to push his kick well wide.

Then, Josh Murphy failed to release in the tackle for out-half Hendrikse to go closer, but still off target.

Suddenly, the hosts clicked into gear, Player of the Match Tommy O’Brien popping up in midfield to make the extra man, Jamie Osborne and Max O’Reilly completing the catch pass basics that allowed Dave Kearney to glide over for Ross Byrne to convert in the ninth minute.

A miscued offload caused a problem which lock Reuben Schoeman turned into a penalty from his work on the floor, Hendrikse finding his range in the 14th minute.

Flanker Ruan Venter almost snatched an interception at a Leinster lineout as a reminder of how mistakes can change the course of the game.

The next time the Lions turned on the power in the scrum, they were penalised to give Leinster access into the 22, Ross Byrne feeding O’Brien again in a quick move that faltered when O’Reilly and Kearney lost their feet.

The Lions scrum looked like their best avenue into the contest, forcing another penalty which Hendrikse lashed to the five-metre mark.

The home pack absolutely smashed the maul into touch with McCarthy conspicuous in the middle of it.

The visitors were lively, none more so than Morne van den Berg, tearing through the middle, Devin Toner coming forward to knock over the scrum-half and Dan Leavy snaring a vital turnover to prevent further damage,

It was end to end, Nick McCarthy slipping into a gap to put Leinster back on attack, James Tracy’s hands and Ross Byrne’s decision to hold the ball almost put O’Brien over on the right.

They came back towards the posts where Michael Ala’alatoa and Leavy peppered the line but without the finish to match.

When the scrum buckled, Nick McCarthy tidied up the mess, although they handed away territory with a penalty which Leinster compounded with another for Hendrikse to make it 7-6 in the 37th minute.

There was enough time for lock Joe McCarthy to truck it up again and, when Kearney was tackled in the air, Toner gathered Tracy’s lineout throw for the forwards to maul to the line where Leavy could not visibly ground the ball to end the half.

It would be interesting to see how Leinster would regroup against a motivated, dangerous South African opponent.

Max O’Reilly was not about to hang around, twice returning the ball with profit, just failing to connect with Kearney on the left.

The scrum led to another penalty for the Lions. Venter rescued a lineout and van den Berg had to be manhandled by the Blues pack.

A lovely piece of invention from the base of a quick scrum triggered a wide-to-wide passing movement that stalled when O’Brien ran into Toner.

Leinster stayed on point for the lineout to work well, Murphy grabbing Tracy’s throw and a series of drives ending with Ala’alatoa surging over for Ross Byrne to convert in the 48th minute.

Quickly, O’Brien was back on the ball making ground up the middle to earn a penalty which was put into touch where Toner’s take was mauled home by Scott Penny for another seven-pointer in the 52nd minute.

Leinster were threatening to take over, O’Brien went up the left and Kearney followed suit on the other side.

Full-back O’Reilly showed he wasn’t just a ball-handler when launching a fine clearance from his own line.

Peter Dooley interfered with van den Berg to give up field position, the Leinster defence coming up trumps.

Sean Cronin headed a counterattack and O’Brien’s low tackle took No 8 Francke Horn into touch.

The Lions were always alive to openings and wing Stean Pienaar looked for all the world like he would score in the corner until O’Brien arrived like a train to make the tackle.

The danger was not done. A five-metre scrum was convened. Leinster repealed that and a subsequent five-metre lineout before a high tackle on Kearney was the platform to move into enemy territory.

Luke McGrath was on the spot to recover an offload from Edwill van der Merwe as the Lions continued to press.

A super-slick move, involving forwards and backs, could not crack the visitors, that man Joe McCarthy almost getting the ball away to Thomas Clarkson.

The home defence had to be energised and organised. But, Lions pounced for van den Berg to put flanker Jaco Kriel in at the posts, Tiaan Swanepoel’s conversion leaving a bad taste in the mouth.