Leinster hammer outclassed Blues

by Cian O'Callaghan , 07 April 2012

Defending champions Leinster marched into the semi-finals of the Heineken Cup after a comprehensive 34-3 win over the Cardiff Blues in front of a thrilled crowd at the Aviva Stadium.

Tries from Isa Nacewa, Brian O'Driscoll and two from Rob Kearney ended the game as a contest just after half-time with out-half Jonathan Sexton kicking 14 points.

Cardiff showed spirit in keeping their opponents scoreless for the final 33 minutes but the European champions had already sent out a message to the whole of Europe with their stunning first-half display.

The Blues had got the start they wanted when Leigh Halfpenny knocked over a penalty on 3 minutes after the Leinster loose forwards were penalised at the breakdown to give the visitors a 3-0 lead.

Leinster had been sluggish out of the blocks but a Sexton penalty on 8 minutes levelled the game and from the restart the European champions moved up a gear with a smashing Nacewa try just three minutes later following a scything Sexton break.

The home side continued putting the crisis-hit Welsh team under severe pressure and their high-tempo play reaped rewards again on 26 minutes when Kearney finished a fabulous passing move.

As if the home crowd wasn't cheered enough by their side's 20-3 lead then Luke Fitzgerald found the talisman O'Driscoll who, on his return to big-game Heineken Cup action, surged over for a try after a scintillating flowing move.

With Sexton adding the extras for each of the tries, Leinster went in at the break with a commanding 27-3 lead over a dispirited and disjointed Cardiff side and the game looked over as a contest.

The Blues briefly threatened to make a contest of it with a rare sustained foray into the Leinster 22 but the Irish side repelled the attack and put the game beyond any doubt on 46 minutes.

After a strong push into the Blues' 22, some lovely handling sent Kearney clean through to earn his second try of the night and when Sexton added the conversion to make it 34-3 with 33 minutes left, the stats-men were reaching for their record books just in case.

To their credit Cardiff rallied but when Martin Williams dropped the ball about a millimetre above the ground when set to score, a decision just about confirmed by the TMO, the Welsh just knew it wasn't their night.

Leinster emptied their bench and ran down the clock in the last quarter but had already shown the remaining teams in the competition that they are the team to beat.

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