Sunday 17 December 2017

Leinster collect bonus point as they prove too much for Treviso at RDS

Leinster 62 Treviso 7

Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster, is tackled by Marco Filippucci, left, and Luke McLean, Benetton Treviso
Brian O'Driscoll, Leinster, is tackled by Marco Filippucci, left, and Luke McLean, Benetton Treviso

Ruaidhri O’Connor

Leinster took just 26 minutes of solid work to collect a bonus point at the RDS and cruised to victory thereafter.

A serious injury to Treviso centre Christian Loamanu who was taken to hospital after an aerial collision with Zane Kirchner marred an otherwise flawless opening salvo from the champions who led 29-0 after the Springbok scored his try and Jimmy Gopperth converted.

That meant that the league leaders had already collected the maximum points to edge them closer to remaining in Dublin for the semi-final and a possible final and they took their foot off the accelerator for large stretches thereafter before finishing strongly.

Still, it was enough to get Matt O’Connor’s team back to winning ways after their disappointments on the road in Toulon and Swansea.

They started like a train with Jordi Murphy, Rhys Ruddock and Mike McCarthy to the fore and led through a Gopperth penalty after four minutes.

Murphy got the try scoring underway soon after, stepping past Lorenzo Cittadini’s tackle to touch down following strong work from Darragh Fanning and Rob Kearney’s whose pass put the openside over.

Gopperth missed the conversion, but he got, and made, another shot a few minutes later when Paul Derbyshire’s palm down from a Treviso lineout was anticipated by Sean Cronin who collected the ball and outpaced everyone to score.

The game was held up for an age as medics treated Loamanu who was conscious when he left the stadium from hospital, but Leinster didn’t let it affect their focus and got their third through Cian Healy who powered over from close range after Fanning had again made the had yards.

Gopperth converted and the blues refused to let up, with a trademark Brian O’Driscoll break coming to nothing when Noel Reid’s offload to Kearney didn’t go to hand, but the visitors handed the initiative back when Ludovico Nitoglia ran into his own man.

From the resultant scrum, Jimmy Gopperth ran a hard line through the defence, drew the last defender and fed Kirchner who stepped inside Roberto Barbieri to score.

The majority of the match was still to come, but the matter had been settled and Leinster switched off to allow Treviso come into the game. The Italians obliged, scoring a penalty try in the last play when Isaac Boss came in from the side of a maul that was headed over the line.

The scrum-half saw yellow and Treviso started the second half on the front-foot, with only a superb last-ditch Rob Kearney tackle denying Tobias Botes a certain try.

Luke McGrath returned in Boss’s place, but Leinster only had the 15 men for a few minutes before replacement Jack McGrath received a card for dislodging the ball from Botes’ hands with his foot.

Leinster appeared to have regathered their composure, however, and Treviso needed an excellent Brendan Williams tackle to deny Brendan Macken before kicking the loose ball to touch.

From the lineout, Leinster drove forward and Dominic Ryan peeled off the maul to crash over.

Gopperth missed the conversion but the march continued as the impressive Luke McGrath dummied his way through off good lineout ball and put Reid over, before the young scrum-half sent Jamie Heaslip over and then finished the scoring himself by darting over from the back of a maul for Leinster’s eighth try.

By that stage Treviso were down to 14 men after Angelo Esposito’s yellow and they were calling out for the final whistle.

But Reid capped a fine display by playing a neat 1-2 with Heaslip to touch down under the posts and seal a result that puts Leinster in a commanding position on top of the Pro12 ahead of their penultimate clash in Ravenhill in two weeks’ time.

LEINSTER -- R Kearney; Z Kirchner (B Macken h-t), B O’Driscoll (B Macken 14-16 blood), N Reid, D Fanning; J Gopperth, I Boss; C Healy (J McGrath h-t), S Cronin (R Strauss 57), M Moore (M Bent 54); D Toner (T Denton 57), M McCarthy; R Ruddock (C Healy 65-73), J Murphy (D Ryan 23), J Heaslip (capt).

TREVISO – L McLean (J Ambrosini 73); L Nitoglia, M Campagnaro, C Loamanu (B Williams 17), A Esposito; M Berquist, T Botes (F Semenzato 62); M Mucccignat (I Fernandez-Rouyet 60), L Ghiraldini (capt), L Cittadini (P Di Santo 62); M Fuser, V Bernabo; M Filippucci, P Derbyshire (A Pavanello 60), R Barbieri (D Budd 44).

Referee: N Paterson (SRU)


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