Leinster enjoy nine-try rout over Treviso at RDS
Semi-final spot confirmed as late scoring spree thrills sell-out crowd
Leinster hooker Seán Cronin breaks clear to score his side’s second try during the RaboDirect Pro 12 game at the RDS in Dublin. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho
Leinster 62 Benetton Treviso 7: Leinster notched nine tries in the Dublin sunshine as they recorded their biggest win of the season against Benetton Treviso.
The RaboDirect Pro12 leaders, who are now nine points clear and destined for a home semi-final, put their recent defeats to Toulon and the Ospreys behind them with an emphatic 62-7 triumph.
The second-from-bottom Italian outfit responded with a penalty try for a 29-7 interval deficit, with Leinster’s sloppiness punished by yellow cards for Isaac Boss and Jack McGrath.
But they thoroughly dominated the final quarter as Dominic Ryan and Noel Reid added further tries, captain Jamie Heaslip and Luke McGrath both scored while Angelo Esposito was in the sin-bin and Reid finished off the rout in injury time.
An early chunk of possession yielded a fifth-minute penalty for Leinster and Jimmy Gopperth, who kicked 17 points in all, fired over from the kicking tee.
Heaslip and man of the match Darragh Fanning then provided the momentum off a scrum on the 22, and Rob Kearney’s inviting pass back inside sent Murphy over in the right corner.
Gopperth missed the conversion but was able to add the extras to Cronin’s 15th-minute effort, the hooker racing clear from 40 metres out after Paul Derbyshire’s lineout tap-down bounced up into his arms.
A horrible aerial collision between Christian Loamanu and Kirchner saw the Treviso centre come off worst. Play was held up for over 10 minutes before he was carried off on a stretcher.
Leinster held onto their momentum, though, and, after Devin Toner went close, Healy swatted away Mat Berquist’s challenge to reach over under the posts. Gopperth converted for a 22-0 lead.
A vintage Brian O’Driscoll break from deep might have led to the province’s bonus-point score, but the move broke down between the supporting Reid and Kearney.
The fourth try arrived soon after, when another textbook support line saw Gopperth feed Kirchner and the winger stepped off his left to go over close to the posts.
Treviso improved approaching half-time with scrumhalf Tobie Botes leading the fightback on his 100th appearance for the club.
The visitors were awarded a penalty try just before the break, as Botes’s opposite number Boss came in at the side of a maul to prevent a certain try for Robert Barbieri.
Referee Neil Paterson opted to bin Boss for ‘cynical’ play, and Berquist’s conversion closed the gap to 22 points.
Kearney managed to hold up Botes over the try-line as Leinster had to absorb the early pressure on the resumption.
Treviso forced the issue for most of the third quarter and the hosts suffered a second yellow card with replacement prop McGrath penalised for kicking a ruck ball out of Botes’s hands.
But they were back on course when flanker Ryan slipped around the side of a maul to score from close range. Gopperth’s conversion came back off the left-hand upright.
Try number six followed in the 68th minute as clean lineout ball sent replacement scrumhalf Luke McGrath darting through a midfield gap and he passed for centre Reid to finish off.
Treviso winger Esposito then saw yellow for taking Kearney out in the air and Leinster showed no mercy as Heaslip galloped clear for a well-deserved try.
They passed the half-century when Ruddock broke from a maul and offloaded in perfect time for Luke McGrath to score his first try for his home province.
Gopperth converted and also topped off Reid’s breakaway effort in injury time, which was the product of some terrific interplay between himself and the tireless Heaslip.
LEINSTER: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, B O’Driscoll, N Reid, D Fanning; J Gopperth, I Boss; C Healy, S Cronin, M Moore; D Toner, M McCarthy; R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip. Replacements: D Ryan for Murphy (23 mins), B Macken for Kirchner, J McGrath for Healy (both 41 mins), L McGrath for Boss (49 mins), Bent for Moore (54 mins), R Strauss for Cronin, T Denton for Toner (both 57 minutes), I Madigan for O’Driscoll (66 mins).
BENETTON TREVISO: L McLean, L Nitoglia, M Campagnaro, C Loamanu, A Esposito; M Berquist, T Botes; M Muccignat, L Ghiraldini, L Cittadini; M Fuser, V Bernabo; M Filippucci, P Derbyshire, R Barbieri.
Replacements: B Williams for Loamanu (14 mins), D Budd for Barbieri (44 mins), G Maistri for Ghiraldini, I Fernandez-Rouyet for Cittadini, A Pavanello (all 60 mins), F Semenzato for Botes, P Di Santo for Muccignat (both 62 mins), J Ambrosini for Nitoglia (74 mins).
Referee: N Paterson (Scotland).