LEINSTER relished the role of party poopers to dish out a 39-16 hammering to the Dragons at Rodney Parade and give new boss Bernard Jackman a tangible indication of the rebuilding task ahead.

There was a sense of hope and optimism in the Newport sun at the start of the new era under Welsh Rugby Union control with a new boss in Jackman, new captain in Cory Hill and new pristine pitch.

But the Irish province, favourites for the Guinness PRO14, aren’t the romantic sorts and provided a rather predictable reality check.

They showed a ruthless edge to score five tries, showing the same class on the new hybrid surface as they had when racking up eight in the mud when winning 54-22 last February.

Of course nobody was expecting miracles and part of Jackman’s pledge to wipe the slate clean and give everybody a chance means that some familiar shortcomings will inevitably be exposed.

The hope is that time will lead to more snap in attack and bite in defence and the management will demand better in Edinburgh on Friday.

But Leinster are a team who have been competing at Europe’s top table for years while the Dragons have been mixing it with the Italians at the bottom of the Celtic League.

Given that the only two high-profile recruits have been backs – fly-half Gavin Henson and full-back Zane Kirchner – it shouldn’t come as a shock that the Dragons looked a little lightweight up front.

Back row forward Ollie Griffiths, comfortably the standout player of 2016/17, should return from a hip bump to add dynamism in Edinburgh next week but other than that there is just Lewis Evans to come into the mix.

That will pose problems in Jackman’s desire to play a wide, expansive game but all the management will ask for is progress week on week… and not all opponents will be up to Leinster’s standards.

The Irish province headed to Newport without a raft of internationals but still fielded one of their strongest XV for years at Rodney Parade.

The tight five of Cian Healy, Sean Cronin, Michael Bent, Devin Toner and high-profile Australia recruit Scott Fardy was formidable while Isa Nacewa and Rob Kearney provided plenty of stardust behind.

The Dragons had a mouthwatering set of three-quarters themselves, with fly-half Henson charged with bringing Tyler Morgan, Hallam Amos, Ashton Hewitt and Kirchner into the game.

However, the task was for the pack to provide the elusive runners with quality ball on a sensational looking new pitch and it was Leinster that had the bulk up front.

South Wales Argus:

The Dragons made a good start and, after a pre-season of defensive strife, stood firm against some early Leinster pressure before enjoying possession and territory of their own.

Henson put a pair of missed touches from penalties behind him to earn a 3-0 lead from the tee after 10 minutes The former Wales and Lions playmaker endured a shaky start on debut and was then pinged for not rolling away after a hefty carry down his channel by Isa Nacewa, fly-half Ross Byrne punishing the offence with a 17th-minute leveller.

And Leinster soon got their noses in front when, seconds after a superb cover tackle by hooker Elliot Dee denied Nacewa, scrum-half Jamie Gibson-Park sniped over from a five-metre scrum.

Blindside flanker James Thomas grumbled that he had been held by a crafty man in blue but there was nothing obvious for a TMO denial and Byrne added the extras for 10-3.

The Dragons were showing tenacity to hang on in there in the face of some slick Leinster handling and reduced the deficit through Henson But Leinster were undoubtedly on top and restored their seven-point buffer with the final kick of the half through Byrne.

And they were in command swiftly after the resumption when the Dragons were down 14 points and down to 14 men after lock Matthew Screech dragged down a driving lineout, Scottish official Mike Adamson having no hesitation in marching under the sticks.

No conversion was required under new laws and then, after Henson had banged over another three, Byrne was wide when Leinster made their numerical advantage count to put wing Jordan Larmour over after the forwards had hammered to the line.

At 25-9 the Dragons had to dig deep and Jackman turned to his bench to add some energy.

Alas, whereas they didn’t possess the bulk to pose real problems in attack, Leinster found things all too easy and their gainline dominance allowed flanker Dan Leavy to power over for the bonus point.

Thankfully the Dragons didn’t end the afternoon without a try to their name, although it wasn’t an individual on the scoresheet.

The ball was worked left for Tyler Morgan to put Ashton Hewitt in flight and the winger was denied by a high tackle from opposite number Adam Byrne, an offence that resulted in a yellow card as well as seven points.

Sadly the Irish province made light of their numerical disadvantage to have the final say when replacement fly-half Cathal Marsh crossed then converted for a comprehensive 39-16 success.

Dragons: Z Kirchner, A Hewitt, T Morgan, J Dixon (A O’Brien 53), H Amos, G Henson, C Davies (T Knoyle 53, J Rosser 66), B Harris (L Garrett 53-79), E Dee (R Buckley 66), L Brown (L Fairbrother 49), M Screech (R Landman 53), C Hill, J Thomas (M Williams 70), J Benjamin, H Keddie.

Scorers: tries – penalty; penalties – G Henson (3) Leinster: R Kearney (B Daly 66), A Byrne, R O’Loughlin, I Nacewa (captain), J Larmour, R Byrne (C Marsh 71), J Gibson-Park, C Healy (E Byrne 49), S Cronin (J Tracy 49), M Bent, D Toner (J Ryan 58), S Fardy, D Leavy, J van der Flier, M Deegan (J Conan 54).

Scorers: tries – J Gibson-Park, penalty, J Larmour, D Leavy, C Marsh; conversions – R Byrne (2), C Marsh; penalties – R Byrne (2)

Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)

Attendance: 6,133