Jordan Larmour served notice of his match-winning ability with a decisive interception try in Leinster’s 17-10 win at Bath.
Competition for places in Ireland’s back three is as intense as ever, with Jacob Stockdale in fine form and the experience of Rob Kearney and Keith Earls still vital.
But as the 2019 Guinness Six Nations rolls even closer into view, Larmour struck a vital blow for his province and reminded Joe Schmidt of his ability to settle games at the highest level.
The 21-year-old, who made his Test debut in the 2018 Championship against Italy, telegraphed James Wilson’s booming pass in midfield.
The Dublin native adjusted expertly to claim the loose ball and put on the afterburners from nearly halfway to dot down.
His side didn’t have it easy, however, and needed Ireland hooker Sean Cronin’s earlier try to seal the deal in the south-west.
England star Sam Underhill, a contender to start on the openside in the 2019 Guinness Six Nations, masterminded Henry Thomas’ first-half score with a turnover from the base of a scrum.
Leinster had enough in the second half and their victory keeps them well-placed in the battle for a quarter-final spot.