An early onslaught from Leinster laid the foundation for an emphatic 31-3 win over the Vodacom Bulls at the Aviva Stadium on Saturday.
This highly anticipated clash in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship had the PRO14 champions fronting up against the Currie Cup champions, but ultimately the two teams were a class apart.
It served as yet another reminder as to the challenges South African teams will face when coming up against top northern-hemisphere opponents, with Leinster effectively controlling proceedings from start to finish.
The loosening of the Covid-19 restrictions allowed a 75% capacity crowd and the PRO14 champions put their best foot forward against the recent Currie Cup winners.
Captain Jonathan Sexton sent over a penalty and converted tries from Josh van der Flier and Andrew Porter – all inside the opening 14 minutes – as Leinster’s fast start earned them a 17-3 half-time lead.
Johan Goosen had kicked the Bulls’ first URC points but the hosts’ defence held firm and further scores from replacements James Tracy and Ross Byrne sealed a convincing victory.
Sexton’s fourth-minute penalty got Leinster up and running, with Goosen putting the kick-off out on the full and the Bulls quickly being pinged at the scrum and breakdown.
Some nice passing set up Van der Flier to thunder over, the player of the match breaking through a gap before bouncing off David Kriel’s attempted tackle to score.
A second seven-pointer followed in the 12th minute as the Bulls lost a lineout and Ciaran Frawley tapped back Sexton’s lobbed kick for Garry Ringrose to send prop Porter over from close range.
Just when the Bulls were building momentum, James Ryan stole a lineout and Van der Flier forced a penalty.
The latter also denied Cornal Hendricks a try but Goosen’s simple 22nd-minute penalty opened the visitors’ account.
That try continued to elude the South Africans despite some impressive phases. Madosh Tambwe weaved over on the left but had his score chalked off for a prior knock-on.
Into the second half, Leinster emerged scoreless from a promising early spell, James Lowe’s decision to take a quick tap ultimately coming to nothing.
They increased their lead in the 56th minute. The Bulls got fingertips to a lineout but Rhys Ruddock retrieved it and a well-directed maul put Tracy over before Sexton converted in his final act.
The Bulls’ last try-scoring chance was foiled by a double tackle on Elrigh Louw.
Leinster soon countered slickly from a kick, with Frawley the instigator and a pace-laden attack finished with Ringrose putting Byrne over on the left.