Leinster 42-8 Treviso
Thursday 9th February @ The RDS
Four tries in the last twenty minutes gave Leinster a comfortable win over Treviso at the RDS. Joe Schmidt’s side now lead the PRO12 by 14 points, although they have played a game more than the rest of the league. Isa Nacewa put in a Man of the Match performance as he showed his class in attack and defence. Ian Madigan at outhalf put in yet another promising display, while Fionn Carr and Shane Jennings showed Ireland coach Declan Kidney what he is missing.
In wet conditions, Leinster were made to work hard in the first-half. Nacewa opened the scoring from the tee after a superb kick chase by himself and Brendan Macken resulted in a turnover penalty. Treviso leveled the score when outhalf Alberto Di Bernardo took advantage of Leinster’s poor line speed to scuff over a drop goal.
It took twenty minutes for Leinster to get into their attacking stride but they did so to great effect as Madigan touched down. Carr made a strong carry from Isaac Boss’ pass and then Leo Auva’a supplied Madigan. The 22-year-old outhalf showed good strength to fend off Alberto Chillon as he broke through the Treviso defence for the first try of the game.
Side entry at a ruck by the Italians allowed Nacewa to knock over another penalty, giving Leinster an 11-3 half-time lead. Treviso came out from the break extremely fired up and took the game to Leinster for the opening 15 minutes of the half. Another Nacewa penalty gave Leinster respite but Treviso came again. After switching down the blindside, replacement prop Pedro di Santo took advantage of a bad defensive decision by Nathan White to put front-row partner Matteo Muccignat over. Di Bernardo missed with the conversion.
Realising they had a game on their hands, Leinster reacted the way they know best, through all-out attack. A searing break from Carr resulted in Richardt Strauss bashing over from a few metres out. Nacewa converted that try then scored the next one himself. Switching swiftly to the blindside, the Fijian released substitute Dave Kearney down the left-hand touchline and took the winger’s return pass to cross the whitewash. The fullback was on target once again with the conversion.
The Leinster scoring continued as Treviso lost all hope. Nacewa was at the centre of the next try as he pierced through the Italians’ defence from a floated Madigan pass. The fullback drew the last defender and popped inside to replacement scrumhalf John Cooney, only on the pitch a minute. Nacewa added the extras from under the posts.
With the Leinster bench emptied by now, several of the youngsters showed up well in a very open final ten minutes. Some lovely touches from Noel Reid in the centre put Madigan in position to feed Carr with a cross-kick. The pacy winger was left one-on-one with second-row Francesco Minto and there was only ever going to be one outcome. Carr stepped the desperate tackle and scored in the left-hand corner. A well-struck Madigan conversion topped off an accomplished Leinster display.
With both sides missing their international players, this game had the potential to be a damp squib. Leinster’s exciting attacking play ensured that a satisfied RDS crowd and a satisfied Joe Schmidt. His attention now turns to the visit of the Scarlets in a week’s time. Schmidt will be encouraged by what he saw from young players like Collie O’Shea and Brendan Macken. The strength in depth of this Leinster squad is evidently increasing.
Leinster: 15. Isa Nacewa (Carr, 75), 14. Darren Hudson, 13. Brendan Macken, 12. Colm O’Shea (Reid, 67), 11. Fionn Carr (Kearney, 64), 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Isaac Boss (Cooney, 69), 8. Leo Auva’a (Ruddock, 56), 7. Shane Jennings, 6. Kevin McLaughlin (capt.), 5. Devin Toner, 4. Damian Browne (Flanagan, 64), 3. Nathan White (Hagan, 56), 2. Richardt Strauss (Sexton, 69), 1. Heinke van der Merwe (McGrath, 64). Subs: 16. Tom Sexton, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Jamie Hagan, 19. Mark Flanagan, 20. Rhys Ruddock, 21. John Cooney, 22. Noel Reid.
Photos courtesy: Ken Bohane.
Here’s the highlights of the game: