Thursday 5 December 2019

Cian Healy and Mike Ross enjoy strong cameos as Leinster trounce Zebre

Leinster 52 Zebre 0

Leinster's Jordi Murphy goes over to score his side's fifth try against Zebre. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE
Leinster's Jordi Murphy goes over to score his side's fifth try against Zebre. Picture credit: Stephen McCarthy / SPORTSFILE

Leinster ran in eight tries to maintain their push for a PRO12 play-off place with a 52-0 victory over Zebre at the RDS.

New Zealander Hayden Triggs and academy player Adam Byrne claimed their first tries at senior level for the hosts, and thanks to further efforts from club captain Isa Nacewa and Luke McGrath, Leinster had the bonus point in the bag by half-time leading 26-0.

Leo Cullen unloaded his bench upon the resumption and Jordi Murphy, Sean Cronin, Garry Ringrose and Cian Kelleher shared out four more tries as the Irish province comfortably recorded their 10th league triumph of the current campaign.

Leinster were aiming to return to winning ways following their recent defeat at the Newport Gwent Dragons, while Zebre were edged out by Munster in Parma on the same weekend.

Cullen recalled Ireland internationals Cian Healy and Mike Ross to his front row following their recent injury lay-offs, and although Zebre initially held firm, a powerful drive by second row Triggs yielded a ninth-minute try.

His former Auckland Blues compatriot Nacewa converted and the Leinster skipper then claimed a seven-point salvo at the end of a sweeping attacking move on 18 minutes.

A third Leinster try arrived through replacement scrum half McGrath, and with Ireland Sevens international Byrne also crossing prior to the interval, Leinster brought an insurmountable 26-0 deficit into the second half.

Gianluca Guidi's visitors, led by their evergreen second row Marco Bortolami, provided a stern resistance for much of the third quarter, before number 8 Murphy dotted down just shy of the half hour mark.

This lifted the atmosphere around the Ballsbridge venue once again, and at the end of another incisive move in the 68th minute, replacement hooker Cronin - fresh from his appearance in Ireland's Six Nations stalemate with Wales - got his name on the scoresheet.

And, thanks to outstanding five-pointers from youngsters Ringrose and Kelleher in the dying minutes - as well as three Cathal Marsh conversions - Leinster concluded their night's work in considerable style.

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