While the PRO14 champions from last season made light work of their supposedly difficult away game against Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday night, their two nearest rivals in the early season log battle suffered setbacks.
Connacht turned previous log leaders Ulster surprisingly easily in their game at the Aviva Stadium, while the Ospreys won comfortably enough against Munster in Swansea to deny the visitors a bonus point.
Ulster dropped to second, four points behind Leinster, with Munster a point further back and Edinburgh now up to fourth after their comprehensive away win over Zebre Parma.
Leinster are the only undefeated team left in the competition after five rounds and their coach Leo Cullen is grinning from ear to ear as a result. However, he is mindful of the fact it is early in the season still, and has warned that the Vodacom URC trophy is not won in October.
“(Glasgow) is a tough place to come - Glasgow are a niggly team that try to get under your skin with little pats on the head and pushing guys off the ball,” said Cullen.
“The (current) block of competition has been good, and the guys have pushed each other and that is what you want. It is a long season though, and no trophies are won in October.
"When we come back we have a big block of games, including 10 on the bounce, and four European (Champions Cup) games and four inter-provincials (derbies), so it is unbelievably exciting. Hopefully by the time we return we are also back to full crowds.”
While Cullen is being cautious, you just can’t bet against Leinster’s championship pedigree. Although Glasgow welcomed back their returning British & Irish Lions in Ali Price and Zander Fagerson, and went into the game with a bit of a momentum, they never really challenged the new log leaders, who scored two tries in the first half and then two more in the second to bank the try scoring bonus point en route to making it five wins in five.
The bonus point they were denied when they were held to a low scoring 7-6 win by the Dragons in the second week of competition is the only point that the Leinster have missed out on to prevent them from boasting a full house.
The game between Ospreys and Munster, which took place a day after the Leinster victory over Glasgow, was a much tighter and more tense contest, and Munster will kick themselves for not making more of their ascendancy in the first half.
They just weren’t able to make their advantage in the possession and territory battle count. Instead Stephen Myler kicked three penalty goals against one from Jack Crowley to take his team to the break 9-3 ahead. A fourth penalty goal early in the second period made it a nine point lead for the Ospreys before a try from Craig Crasey reduced the deficit to two.
However, although Lions scrumhalf Conor Murray and Springbok centre Damian de Allende were both introduced for Munster in the second half, they couldn’t make an impression on the Ospreys defence, for whom openside flanker Jac Morgan was a stand-out, and two more penalty goals allowed the Ospreys to finish with a degree of comfort.
Connacht emphatically ended Ulster’s four-match winning run in a game that was a home match for the team from Galway, but was played in Dublin in an attempt to draw a bigger crowd.
In the end just less than 10 000 pitched up for the game, most of them supporting Connacht, and they weren’t disappointed as the team in green shot into a 17-6 halftime lead.
The South African teams did not play this weekend so the best placed local team, the DHL Stormers, move from 10th to 12 but of course the local franchises now all have a game in hand on the other participating teams.
Weekend Vodacom United Rugby Championship results:
Glasgow Warriors 15 Leinster 31
Scarlets 34 Benetton 28
Zebre Parma 10 Edinburgh 27
Connacht 36 Ulster 11
Cardiff 31 Dragons 29
Ospreys 18 Munster 10