Saturday 17 March 2018

Madigan provides spark for lacklustre Leinster

On a weekend when all three of their Irish rivals lost, Leinster came from behind to secure a valuable home win which moves them up to third in the Pro12 table.

Yet while the final score suggests they had an easy night at the office, the truth is altogether different, as Leinster had to overcome their own failings and a committed Aironi effort to turn a potential embarrassment into a 19-point win.

Key to their revival was the introduction of Ian Madigan at outhalf -- yet while he made the backline tick in that second half, the change in attitude at the break proved just as significant because little had gone right for the reigning Heineken Cup champions in that first half.

For starters, Isa Nacewa was wayward with his kicking -- missing all three of his penalties -- and even when Aironi were reduced to 14 men, following Sinoti Sinoti's sin-binning, Leinster were unable to trouble the scorers.

Neither for 36 minutes did Aironi, until Nick Williams squeezed over the line after a multi-phased attack as the visitors' crash-bang-wallop approach brought them an unexpected lead.

In many ways, that score proved the defining moment of the game, because from there on in, Leinster played with greater urgency, leading to a 48th minute try for Madigan and one for Nacewa 10 minutes later.

Whereas Tito Tebaldi threw a reckless pass in midfield which was collected by Luke Fitzgerald who ran 50 yards to score the try, Leinster played risk-free rugby. Rhys Ruddock added a fourth try as Leinster secured the bonus point.

Scorers -- Leinster: Madigan, Nacewa, Fitzgerald, Ruddock tries; Nacewa 3 cons. Aironi: Williams try; Tebaldi con.

LEINSTER: I Nacewa; F Carr, E O'Malley, L Fitzgerald, D Kearney; N Reid (Madigan h-t), C Willis; H van der Merwe, R Strauss, J Hagan; S Sykes (Browne 58), D Toner; C Ruddock (Murphy 50), R Ruddock, L Auva'a.

Aironi: R Trevisan; S Sinoti, R Quartaroli (Giazzon 71), G Pizarro (R Pavan 59), G Venditti; T Tebaldi, T Keats (G Pavan 59); A De Marchi (Aguero 59), R Santamaria, F Staibano (Redolfini 67); J Furno, G Biagi (Cazzola 78); J Sole, S Favaro (Ferrarani 70), N Williams.

Referee: M Mitrea (Italy)

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