Leinster Rugby kicked off life in the new United Rugby Championship with a resounding 31-3 victory over newcomers Vodacom Bulls.

Ross Byrne pounced for the bonus-point try midway through the second half which he also converted, sealing a maximum return for the hosts.

Earlier, captain Johnny Sexton had converted a penalty, from a swift first attack, into three points in the fifth minute.

An even better surge from deep started by James Lowe and orchestrated by Sexton concluded with Josh van der Flier speeding into space and through David Kriel’s tackle for the opening try, converted by Sexton for 10-0 in the ninth minute.

A rash challenge by Zak Burger and a block by Rory O’Loughlin had the Bulls in trouble again. Ross Molony grabbed Dan Sheehan’s lineout throw, Sexton chipped, Ciarán Frawley tapped the ball back, Garry Ringrose recovered it and Andrew Porter snatched the try for Sexton to add two more points in the 15th minute.

The Bulls then put a movement together to force a penalty for a high tackle only for James Ryan to steal Bismarck du Plessis’ throw, van der Flier poaching a penalty at the ruck.

It took a tremendous tackle by Hugo Keenan and rip in the tackle by van der Flier to prevent a try, Goosen slotting three points for 17-3 in the 23rd minute.

A stunning one-man breakout by Luke McGrath was good for 60 metres, but van der Flier’s offload drifted forward to Keenan, halting progress.

A Lowe foot in touch allowed the South Africans territory, their big men moving onto the ball at pace for left-wing Madosh Tambwe to burst over only for Elrigh Louw to knock-on in the process.

Leinster looked impressive when they could get into their patterns, a Ringrose-McGrath wrap nearly creating an opening for Keenan.

A scrum penalty went the way of the Blues. Sexton pinged the corner, the maul moving menacingly before Lowe knocked on at the line.

Then, second row Ryan pinched a lineout. Sheehan broke free to spark a serious passage of play until Lowe lost his footing close to the line and van der Flier went off his feet.

The list of near-misses were mounting up for Leinster, the forwards fumbling the ball forward at the whitewash.

Finally, replacement James Tracy found Rhys Ruddock at a lineout and the hooker got around in support to ground the ball at the back of a maul for Sexton to convert near the hour.

However, Jamison Gibson-Park caused an obstruction to gift the Bulls an attacking position and some hope. They looked on the verge of striking back when Ruddock stooped to conquer a ruck for a penalty.

A kick through the in-goal area invited another barrage from the Bulls until the Leinster front row crunched out a scrum penalty.

Superb handling and speed from the Bulls unlocked Leinster, Ross Byrne and Lowe eventually bundling Elrigh Louw into touch.

A mesmerising movement involving Gibson-Park, Frawley, Ringrose, Ryan Baird and van der Flier put Byrne over on the left for the bonus-point, the replacement out-half converting for 31-3 in the 72nd minute for the last score of the game.