Golden moment: Brian O'Driscoll reaches to score Leinster's first try as the home side secured victory over Wasps at the RDS yesterday

IF it's not unreasonable to suggest that hardly anyone outside of the home team's tent saw this extraordinary rout coming, Leinster have proved conclusively that they are serious contenders for the title that has eluded them for so many frustrating years.

Admittedly, we've heard that clarion call before, and too often in the past, confidence has been grossly misplaced by the boys in blue, but as Heineken Cup performances go, this was at times so brilliant and so brutally efficient, that no one can deny Michael Cheika's side have laid down a marker.

While a four-point lead at the interval was probably scant reward for the winners' efforts, there was still a nagging feeling that what seemed to be panning out as a memorable RDS evening could have gone pear-shaped.

Yet without Brian O'Driscoll, who had to depart the full house with an injured knee following a cameo of stunning opportunism, and without the skipper, Leo Cullen, Leinster produced a second half of such controlled fury that no other side in the competition could possibly have lived with them.

Wasps might have been both ponderous and careless when the contest was still in the balance, however, the four tries which were added to O'Driscoll's first-half brace came from the sort of high-pressure game that Leinster have been searching for.

For those 40 minutes or so, the winners were a compelling amalgam of power and skill, and given the star-studded strength of the opposition, the majority of supporters had to pinch themselves as they left the ground. Certainly, no one could remember Leinster playing any better.

With Wasps' head honcho, Ian McGeechan, who as it happens will also lead the Lions in South Africa next summer, present to witness the snatches of wizardry for himself, the timing appeared to be right for an apparently rejuvenated O'Driscoll until he limped off to be replaced by Jonathan Sexton.

The injury – a bang to the knee rather than a hamstring problem – was described by Cheika as "not serious", however, Cullen had to go to hospital with a suspected broken collar bone.

The half-time whistle had been greeted with a chorus of boos following Jeremy Staunton's try in the corner, and at first glance, it did look as if Danny Cipriani had obstructed Girvan Dempsey as the full-back attempted to cut off his opposite number just before the line.

However, Shane Jennings had bundled Cipriani into Dempsey's path, and what appeared to be 'crossing' was in fact a perfectly good try duly awarded. A 15-11 advantage was hardly a portent of the onslaught to come despite O'Driscoll's best efforts. When Wasps' Tom Palmer spilled a high kick just outside his own 22 – what a second row was doing in that area of the pitch is anybody's guess –Felipe Contepomi threaded a kick through which was nudged on by Rob Kearney.

The chance looked to have been lost, but O'Driscoll somehow grabbed the ball, pirouetted and dived for the line. Owens opted for the sanctuary of the TMO, but there was no doubt and after just five minutes, Leinster were off to the ideal start.

Then coming up to the quarter-of-an-hour mark, Paul Sackey hoofed the ball aimlessly upfield, and while O'Driscoll found some space down the blindside, his objective was literally and metaphorically a long way off. But with a chip, followed by a clever kick over Staunton's head, he turned the highly improbable into a brilliant opportunistic score.

As the second half got under way with Sexton now installed at number 10, and Contepomi in his most effective position at inside centre, Wasps were run off their feet. The outstanding Luke Fitzgerald finished off a passing movement which Contepomi converted, and then the Argentine almost created a fourth try as the blue jerseys swept forward once more.

Still, the bonus point wasn't far away, and when Riki Flutey ponderously wound up to clear his lines, Contepomi charged the kick down, kept moving forward, and flopped over for the score which he again converted.

There were more celebrations to come as Rocky Elsom thundered over from close range before Kearney put Wasps out of their misery. "We lost the kicking battle and we lost the contest for the ball in the air as well. Leinster really dominated the last half hour," said Wasps coach, Shaun Edwards. "We were second best, by a long shot."

Two victories then, one a bit of a gift, the other simply majestic. Maximum points – Leinster are going places.

LEINSTER G Dempsey; S Horgan, L Fitzgerald, B O'Driscoll, R Kearney; F Contepomi, C Whitaker; S Wright, B Jackman, CJ van der Linde, L Cullen (capt), M O'Kelly, R Elsom, S Jennings, J Heaslip Subs D Toner for Cullen, 16 mins; J Sexton for O'Driscoll, half-time; C Healy for van der Linde, 64 mins; G Brown for Fitzgerald, 72 mins; J Fogarty for Wright; S Keogh for Whitaker, 75 mins

LONDON WASPS J Staunton; P Sackey, J Lewsey, R Flutey, T Voyce; D Cipriani, E Reddan; T Payne, R Ibanez (capt), P Vickery, S Shaw, T Palmer, J Haskell, T Rees, J Worsley Subs R Webber for Ibanez, 53 mins; J Staunton for van Gisbergen, 64 mins; M Robinson for Reddan, 69 mins; R Birkett for Shaw, 71 mins; T Payne for Barnard; S Betsen Tchoua, 80 mins

Referee N Owens (Wales)

heineken cup, pool 2

leinster 41

london wasps 11