Scarlets 13 Leinster 20
THE Scarlets were left on the brink of Heineken Cup elimination after Leinster consigned them to a second successive defeat with a 20-13 win in Llanelli.
The reigning champions led from the first minute to the last and, although Gareth Maule's brilliant individual try gave the Scarlets hope of a second-half comeback, Simon Easterby's men are now staring at an exit from Europe in the pool stages.
Having lost 49-16 to Clermont Auvergne last weekend, the Scarlets only have one point to show from their opening two fixtures and face a mammoth task in trying to reach the quarter-finals.
Jonny Sexton's penalty gave Leinster a 3-0 lead after barely a minute, and the game was only 11 minutes old when Isa Nacewa scored the first try.
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Sexton found the Fijian with a nicely weighted cross-kick in the Scarlets' 22 and, despite being grappled by North, Nacewa touched down safely.
Leinster extended their lead a couple of minutes later with Sexton's second penalty, but the first half was not all Irish dominance.
A Scarlets driving maul went within a couple of inches of the Leinster try line after 25 minutes but the resultant attacks were comfortably repelled by the visitors.
Sexton made the hosts pay for their profligacy four minutes into the second half, as he stroked over a superb drop-goal from around 40 metres.
Rhys Priestland responded with a penalty to get the Scarlets off the mark, and the home crowd sensed an opening.
They were soon on their feet as, from a line-out, Priestland passed to Maule and the centre sped past opposite number Brian O'Driscoll and left the legendary Irishman flailing as he flew over for a fine solo try.
Priestland struck an excellent conversion to cut Leinster's lead to 14-10 but the roars of the Scarlets' faithful were subdued again when Sexton claimed a third penalty.
The Ireland fly-half struck again to make it 20-10 but, with seven minutes left, Leinster full-back Ian Madigan was sin-binned for tackling Liam Williams in the air.
Priestland slotted over the resultant penalty to put the Scarlets within a converted try of their opponents, but Leinster held on as comfortable winners.