And it was a vintage display by Brian O’Driscoll which sent Leinster on their way to victory which sends them into next weekend’s clash with Munster at Thomond Park with plenty of confidence.
Unlike last week when they struggled to get going against Glasgow, Leinster were full of running and kept the ball in hand to break down a Cardiff side who did not build on a promising opening.
Cardiff, with Lions skipper Sam Warburton back on board and perhaps trying to exorcise the shock defeat to Zebre last week, took the game to Leinster and dominated the early stages.
But Leinster’s defence was solid from the outset and the concession of an early try never looked likely.
Leigh Halfpenny, off target with an effort from 40 metres on the left, got the visitors off the mark with a fifth-minute penalty from close range after Leinster captain on the night Jamie Heaslip was penalised for a challenge on Andries Pretorious.
But with O’Driscoll rolling back the years, Leinster got on top and hit the front after 13 minutes when Ian Madigan and O’Driscoll combined to send Sean Cronin over for a try, with O’Driscoll delaying his pop pass to the hooker perfectly for the gap to open up in what was essentially Leinster’s first attack of the game.
Madigan added the conversion in front of the posts to make it 7-3.
The continued pressure yielded opportunities and Madigan extended the lead after 22 minutes with a penalty from 25 metres on the right and two minutes later he made it 13-3 with an effort from the other wing.
Halfpenny pulled back a penalty for Cardiff before another superb break from O’Driscoll almost yielded a try, but Rob Kearney was adjudged to have had a foot in touch.
Leinster continued to dominate after the restart and the incessant pressure saw Cardiff lock Filo Paulo yellow-carded after the Samoan was penalised for obstruction.
Leinster opted for the scrum but while they coughed it up, Cardiff winger Harry Robinson was prevented from clearing it and conceded another five-metre scrum.
This time Leinster got it right and Italian referee Marius Mitrea awarded a penalty try, with Madigan’s conversion making it 20-6.
That should have been enough to wrap up the game but Lion Alex Cuthbert got outside Dave Kearney and finished in style, with Halfpenny’s conversion making it 20-13.
Leinster responded well again and when Devin Toner charged down a clearance from Lloyd Williams, the Cardiff scrum-half conceded a penalty and Leinster went to the corner and got the drive on from the lineout with Dominic Ryan credited with the try. Madigan again converted to make it 27-13.
All that remained was for Leinster to secure a bonus point — duly accomplished by the quick thinking of Madigan. He created the opportunity, tapping a free-kick on his own 10 metre and making ground against the sleepy visitors. Another penalty went to the corner and it was Madigan who supplied the finish this time, crashing over from close range and converting for a 34-13 lead.
Cory Allen’s intercept try late on mattered little as 17,118 left the RDS happy with their night’s entertainment.
Meanwhile, Leinster boss Matt O’Connor last night confirmed his forwards coach Jono Gibbes will be moving to Clermont Auvergne at the end of the season.
O’Connor said that Gibbes would be a big loss.
“But it was too good an offer for him to turn down. At least we have some time to find a replacement,” said O’Connor.
Scorers for Leinster: Tries: Cronin, penalty, Ryan, Madigan. Cons: Madigan (4) Pens: Madigan 2.
Scorers for Cardiff: Tries: Cuthbert. Allen. Cons: Halfpenny, Patchell. Pens: Halfpenny 2.
LEINSTER: R Kearney; F McFadden, B O’Driscoll, N Reid, D Kearney; I Madigan, I Boss; C Healy, S Cronin, M Moore; D Toner, Q Roux; R Ruddock, D Ryan, J Heaslip (capt).
Replacements: T Denton for Roux (63), M Ross for Moore (63), J Murphy for Ruddock (68), J Cooney for Boss (68), A Dundon for Cronin (68), J McGrath for Healy (68), B Macken for O’Driscoll (72), J Gopperth for Madigan (74).
CARDIFF BLUES: L Halfpenny; A Cuthbert, O Williams, D Hewitt, H Robinson; R Patchell, L Williams; S Hobbs, M Rees (capt), T Filise; L Reed, F Paulo; J Navidi, S Warburton, A Pretorious.
Replacements: T Davies for Hobbs (56), R Copeland for Navidi (68), J Down for Reed (68), C Allen for Hewitt (68), K Dacey for Down (72), L Jones for L Williams (74).
Referee: M Mitrea (Italy).