Leinster lay down marker
Irish outfit run-in five tries to sink Cup debutants
Last Updated: 09/10/10 4:27pm
Strauss: Try number three
Leinster outscored Racing Metro by five tries to one as they kicked off their Heineken Cup Pool 2 campaign with a 38-22 success.
Man of the match Sean O'Brien and Rob Kearney crossed before half-time as the Irish went in 21-6 ahead, while Richard Strauss extended the lead soon after the break.
The French club hit back through Albert Vulivuli but further scores from stand-in skipper Jamie Heaslip and winger Fergus McFadden wrapped up a comprehensive win.
Leinster had the wind at their backs in the opening period and made it tell early on as Gordon D'Arcy got them to within scoring range, before Isa Nacewa stepped up to kick them ahead on six minutes.
Francois Steyn missed an early chance to level the scores before Jerome Fillol - their third-choice fly-half - found the target from 40m out.
Racing failed to use their much-vaunted scrum to good effect and when O'Brien forced an error out of Sebastien Chabal on the half-hour, Nacewa put the hosts in front once again.
Two minutes later the Irish were celebrating their first try after Racing were caught napping at the restart, Leinster quickly recycling the ball for O'Brien to cross to the left of the posts.
Nacewa converted and there was just another two-minute pause before a scintillating back-line move, ignited by a well-worked loop between Johnny Sexton and Brian O'Driscoll, teed up Kearney for a classic Leinster try.
Steyn and Nacewa traded penalties before the break, and Racing, with the elements behind them, made a purposeful start to the second half. Fillol landed a penalty to follow up on good work by his forwards.
But Leinster were not going to let things slip and after Racing scrum-half Nicolas Durand was sin-binned for a ruck offence, quick feet from Luke Fitzgerald created an opening in the corner for hooker Strauss to grab his first Leinster try.
A 10-point burst got Pierre Berbizier's side back in the hunt - Steyn drove a penalty over from inside his half and Vulivuli sauntered through a midfield gap to score his try, with O'Driscoll pulling a hamstring as the big Fijian went by.
Fillol added the extras to set up an exciting final quarter, at the start of which runs from D'Arcy and replacements Cian Healy and Isaac Boss paved the way for Heaslip to raid in behind the posts.
Nacewa's simple conversion was cancelled out by a Fillol penalty as Racing, sparked by Sereli Bobo and replacement Mirco Bergamasco, hunted for a late losing bonus point.
But instead they got a harsh lesson in Heineken Cup finishing when Leinster quickly turned defence into attack, and McFadden took a pass from fellow replacement Shane Horgan to burn off Julien Saubade on a 60-metre dash to the line.