Pro14: Leinster 20-13 Scarlets

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Pro14 highlights: Leinster 20-13 Scarlets
Pro14: Leinster v Scarlets
Leinster (10) 20
Tries: Lowe 2, McGrath Con: Frawley Pen: Frawley
Scarlets (7) 13
Try: McNicholl Con: Jones Pens: Jones 2

Leinster pulled three points clear of Scarlets in their head-to-head battle for the top spot in Conference B after an entertaining win at the RDS.

James Lowe scored two first-half tries as the Irish side recovered from Johnny McNicholl's early score for Scarlets.

Luke McGrath's try at the start of the second half pushed the hosts further clear, but a late Dan Jones penalty earned a losing bonus for the visitors.

The win leaves Leinster in pole position to secure a home semi-final.

Scarlets were forced to play the final 10 minutes with 14 men following an unfortunate injury for Tom Prydie after all the visiting replacements had already been used.

The foundations for the win were built on the Leinster pack, as the home side gained a measure of revenge for last season's semi-final defeat at the same venue.

Scott Fardy, Sean Cronin, Ed Byrne and Jordi Murphy, on his 100th Leinster appearance, were outstanding as part of a dominant Blues' maul and lineout.

But Jones held his nerve in stoppage time to land a tricky penalty to ensure Scarlets left Dublin with at least a bonus point to show for their efforts.

Lowe leads the way

Leinster's Scott Fardy is held up just short of the Scarlets line
Leinster's Scott Fardy is held up just short of the Scarlets line

Scarlets held firm against Leinster's opening assault, with the impressive Tadhg Beirne forcing an early turnover, before they plundered a try from their first visit to the Leinster half.

Scarlets kept possession for multiple phases as defensive errors by James Lowe, Rory O'Loughlin and Adam Byrne allowed them to get within striking distance before quick hands by James Davies allowed McNicholl to score in the corner.

The unfortunate full-back damaged his shoulder while diving for the line and had to be replaced by Corey Baldwin as Dan Jones made the conversion.

Leinster's response was almost instant as they used their maul to march into the opposition 22 before Noel Reid's deflected pass found Lowe and the winger used his pace and power to finish in the corner.

In an end-to-end half, Scarlets butchered another good scoring opportunity when Paul Asquith held onto possession with team-mates outside him.

Instead, Leinster went into the half-time break in the lead thanks to Lowe's second try of the game.

Fardy was influential in creating the score as the Australian second row stole a lineout and then blocked an attempted clearance kick by Jonathan Evans before Lowe forced his way past two tacklers to score.

Scarlets' Tadhg Beirne produced another impressive performance against his former team
Scarlets' Tadhg Beirne produced another impressive performance against his former team

Jones snatches a vital point

Leinster surged further clear within a minute of the restart as McGrath scored his side's third try.

Jordan Larmour and Lowe combined to create the space before Lowe's pass sent McGrath scurrying clear for a score that was converted by debutant Ciaran Frawley.

Scarlets managed to draw back to within a converted score in the 56th minute when a rare foray into Leinster territory earned a penalty for Jones.

The home side cleverly spent much of the second half in Scarlets territory and Frawley restored their 10 point cushion with another penalty in the 69th minute.

The injury to Prydie left Scarlets facing an uphill battle for the final 10 minutes but a thrilling break by Asquith helped to lift the siege before a huge scrum earned a late penalty for Jones to convert.

Teams

Leinster: Larmour; A Byrne, O'Loughlin, Reid, Lowe; R Byrne, McGrath; E Byrne, Cronin, Bent; Molony, Fardy, Josh Murphy, Jordi Murphy, Deegan.

Replacements: Strauss (Cronin, 55), Dooley (E Byrne, 55), Heffernan (Bent, 74), Nagle (Josh Murphy, 64), Connors (Jordi Murphy, 74), McCarthy (McGrath, 49), Frawley (O'Loughlin, 13), Daly (R Byrne, 69).

Scarlets: McNicholl; Prydie, Asquith, Hughes, Nicholas; Jones, J Evans; D Evans, Elias, Kruger; Cummins, Bulbring; Beirne, Davies, MacLeod.

Replacements: Phillips (Elias, 67), Price (D Evans, 57), Gardiner (Kruger, 67), Rawlins (Cummins, 57), Boyde (MacLeod, 67), Smith (J Evans, 49), Baldwin (McNicholl, 11), Williams (Hughes, 62).

Referee: J Lacey (IRFU)