DEFENDING CHAMPIONS LEINSTER made it two from two with a victory over Scarlets in European Cup action today as four-time title-winners Toulouse survived a scare at Italian outsiders Treviso.
Leinster, seeking an unprecedented third consecutive Cup triumph, backed up their narrow 9-6 victory over Exeter last week with a hard-fought 20-13 win over the Welsh region, 49-16 losers at Clermont in their opening match, to top Pool 5.
Toulouse went into the break of their Pool 2 match 18-9 down and then fell 21-12 behind before a late three-converted try revival saw them emerge 33-21 winners over Treviso, with neither side claiming a bonus point.
“It’s a shame because we didn’t score enough tries,” said Toulouse captain Thierry Dusautoir. “That’s because of our first half performance. It’s tough to play Treviso, and we’re not disappointed (not to take the bonus point). The essential thing was to win. After the break, we were the better side in the basics.”
In west Wales, Jonathan Sexton got Leinster off to a perfect start, nailing a penalty after a ruck infringement straight from the kick-off.
The champion’s sole try came from Fijian winger Isa Nacewa, who latched on to a precision-perfect kick from Sexton, riding George North’s tackle to touch down. Sexton pushed the conversion wide, as did Priestland with his first penalty attempt after 15 minutes.
But the Ireland fly-half made no mistake with his second penalty to hand Leinster a 11-0 lead after the first 40 minutes. Priestland fluffed another penalty effort early in the second half as Sexton bagged another three points with a monster drop-goal.
The Wales number 10 finally got the Llanelli-based team’s first points on the board in the 48th minute with a penalty. Centre Gareth Maule then dragged Scarlets back into the game, beating vaunted Ireland captain Brian O’Driscoll with a step on the outside to cross in the corner, Priestland claiming the extras.
Sexton and Priestland each notched up a further penalty each, but the Irishmen held firm with a series of strength-sapping scrums that saw a flagging home side suffer.