Leinster 34 - 3 Cardiff: Cup holders crush Welsh challengers

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Holders Leinster effortlessly extended their unbeaten Heineken Cup record to 13 games as they booked a semi-final appointment with Saracens or Clermont Auvergne.

Leinster will head to Twickenham or Bordeaux on April 29, depending on the winners of tooday’s Vicarage Road tie, after crushing an outclassed Blues outfit.

Gavin Henson’s high-profile dismissal from the Blues and his fellow Wales international centre Jamie Roberts undergoing knee surgery this week overshadowed their trip to Dublin.

And Leinster showed no mercy, ripping their opponents apart as Isa Nacewa, Rob Kearney and Brian O’Driscoll scored first-half tries to end the contest after 40 minutes.

Full-back Kearney added his second touchdown within seven minutes of the restart, and although the Blues displayed touches of attacking intent, they were restricted to a Leigh Halfpenny penalty for their only points.

Fly-half Jonathan Sexton kicked 14 points for the home side via four conversions and two penalties as they booked a fourth successive Heineken semi-final appearance.

The second period was a damp squib, yet it hardly mattered from the home side’s perspective as a 24-point interval advantage meant Leinster’s sights were on the semi-finals from an early stage.

Leinster boss Joe Schmidt predicted a “horrendously tough” semi-final for his team, despite their convincing victory yesterday. He added: “To win away from home in a semi-final doesn’t happen very often. It is an extremely tough feat to achieve.

“There was a lot of pressure and expectation on us today, and I was really happy with our execution in the first half.

“We relaxed a little bit after that, but we defended our line well. We dug in.”

Fit-again centre Brian O’Driscoll, who made an impressive contribution on his first Heineken Cup start since last season’s victory over Northampton in the Millennium Stadium final, said: “We are in the last four, which is where we wanted to be. But good sides always pick holes in any victory. It was not an over-elated dressing room – we conceded too much territory and possession to be pleased.”