/ Rugby

Llanelli 10-24 Leinster

Updated: Monday, 31 Mar 2008 07:54

Jamie Heaslip powers through the Llanelli defence at Stradey Park this evening
Jamie Heaslip powers through the Llanelli defence at Stradey Park this evening

Magners League leaders Leinster opened up an 11-point lead at the top after a comprehensive victory over Llanelli Scarlets in the Stradey Park rain.

In torrential conditions Leinster were indebted to forwards Ollie Le Roux, Stan Wright and Malcolm O'Kelly for their three tries, with the latter making a record 140th appearance for the Irish province.

In heavy rain and on a muddy pitch the Scarlets found themselves completely out-muscled up front especially in the set scrummage, where they were without first choice props Iestyn Thomas (dead leg) and Deacon Manu (banned).

In the end it was no surprise Leinster went in at half-time with a 17-3 lead.

The league leaders mauled and then rucked their way to the line before the big frame of Le Roux burrowed over. Felipe Contepomi converted to give the visitors a 7-0 lead in the 13th minute.

The Scarlets got themselves into the contest almost immediately from the restart with a Stephen Jones penalty after Contepomi went in from the side of a ruck.

But Leinster kept coming at the Scarlets and from a five-metre scrum the home pack conceded a penalty. It was surprising Leinster did not opt for another scrum but instead Contepomi kicked the goal to give his side a 10-3 advantage in the 27th minute.

The pressure just did not decrease as the game neared half-time with full-back Rob Kearney not too far away with a long-range drop-goal attempt.

Stephen Jones missed a penalty and just before half-time prop Wright squeezed over for the second try, a score awarded after it was referred to the television match official.

The Scarlets made a significant change at half-time with Matthew Rees brought on in place of Mahonri Schwalger.

And the home side began to enjoy a concerted period with ball in hand and in the Leinster 22.

Twice Dwayne Peel went on sniping runs and then Nathan Thomas, a blood-bin replacement for Alix Popham, went very close before Leinster scrum-half Chris Whitaker was sin-binned for ball killing.

With the extra man the Scarlets put the match back in the melting pot as Dafydd Jones went in for a try on 54 minutes converted by Stephen Jones.

But it was not in doubt for long as 14-man Leinster immediately went up the other end and scored their third try within three minutes.

Keeping it in the forwards as the rain intensified, O'Kelly crashed over with the Contepomi conversion restoring a 14-point advantage they were never to relinquish.