Monday 25 March 2019

Leinster survive Zebre comeback to extend lead at the top

Zebre 24 Leinster 40

16 February 2019; Barry Daly of Leinster dives over to score his side's fourth try during the Guinness PRO14 Round 15 match between Zebre and Leinster at the Luigi Zaffanella Stadium in Viadana, Italy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile
16 February 2019; Barry Daly of Leinster dives over to score his side's fourth try during the Guinness PRO14 Round 15 match between Zebre and Leinster at the Luigi Zaffanella Stadium in Viadana, Italy. Photo by Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile

Leinster survived a fightback by Zebre to extend their lead at the top of Conference B in the Guinness PRO14 with a 40-24 bonus-point win in Italy.

The defending champions had stormed into a 21-point lead in the first half, but were pegged back in a dramatic turnaround that saw them go into half-time just two points ahead.

However they regrouped and came out to wrap up a fourth try to secure maximum points for the 10th time this season.

They got off to a fine start, with Max Deegan touching down after a rolling maul was set up and eased over the line, before Dave Kearney doubled the lead and Ross Byrne scored his first try in the competition and after adding the points with the boot, had Leinster 21-0 up and strolling.

They were given a shock when the hosts struck back, forcing a knock-on in the midfield before Francois Brummer touched down after they patiently awaited an opening.

Jamie Elliott intercepted a ball in the middle of the park to make it a quickfire double and Gabriele Di Giulio made it three tries in less than 10 minutes to drag Zebre back into the contest.

The break came at a good time for the Irish province and after Barry Daly had one disallowed, Scott Fardy restored the lead only for Brummer to pull one back with a quarter of the game still remaining.

Another swift attack by the visitors was finished off by Conor O'Brien before Deegan rounded off the scoring with a sixth try.

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