Leinster get the job done in Italy

Matt O’Connor’s side up the ante in second half to overcome Zebre by 17 points

Ian Madigan gets to grips with Zebre’s Samuela Vunisa. Photograph: Francesca Soli/Reuters

Ian Madigan gets to grips with Zebre’s Samuela Vunisa. Photograph: Francesca Soli/Reuters

 

Zebre 3 Leinster 20

Leinster got their Pro12 campaign back on track with a hard-earned victory over a determined Zebre side at at Stadio XXV Aprile in Parma.

The game turned on a moment of brilliance from Ian Madigan five minutes after the restart, who started at out-half for this first time this season.

The sides went in deadlocked at 3-3 and there was a fear that Leinster could suffer a shock loss just a week after losing to Munster,

But Madigan changed all that when he stepped inside veteran Italian lock Marco Bortolami and then had the gas to make it home from 30 metres.

Madigan converted his own try and that killed off the brave challenge of the Italians.

Madigan followed it up with a penalty and Leinster dominated after that but had to settle for just one more try.

The opening half was a dour and niggling affair and referee Neil Paterson eventually lost patience and binned Italian veteran Marco Bortolami after 17 minutes with a penalty count of 5-0 in Leinster’s favour.

But Matt O’Connor’s men were unable to turn that possession into scores and Zebre kept them penned back with Ian Madigan, starting at out-half, getting little opportunity to get his backline moving in an opening quarter which was played between the two 10-metre lines.

Leinster suffered a blow when tighthead prop Marty Moore had to go off after 15 minutes. He was replaced by Michael Bent, who was a late call-up after Tadgh Furlong suffered a knock on Friday.

Leinster were unable to make their extra man count and indeed it was Zebre who that segement 3-0 when out-half Luciano Orquera made no mistake with a penalty from 25 metres on the right after a good counter-attack with full-back David Odiete and winger Giulio Toniolatti posing a threat.

The opening score came after a Leinster drive was held up just short with a decision by the television match official going against the visitors after some good mauling off a penalty to the left touchline.

Madigan had a chance to equalise three minutes from the break but his penalty from 36 metres hit the right post.

Zebre were unable to clear their lines and Leinster punished them, turning the ball over before winning a penalty which Madigan slotted to make it 3-3 at the interval.

Leinster dominated after Madigan’s try and a second-half penalty count of 7-1 to Leinster told its own story and Zebre were fortunate not to have a couple of men binned with Mauro Bergamasco lucky escape without censure for a dangerous tackle on Madigan.

Leinster got in for a second try 12 minutes from time when they went wide and replacement scrum-half Luke McGrath spotted a gap to squeeze over. Jimmy Gopperth slotted the conversion from the right wing.

Zebre: Pen: L Orquera

Leinster: Tries: I Madigan, L McGrath. Cons: Madigan, J Gopperth. Pens: Madigan (2)

Zebre: D Odiete; G Toniolatti, T Iannone, G Garcia, L Sarto; L Orquera, G Palazzani; M Aguero, A Manici, D Chistolini; Q Geldenhuys, M Bortolami; M Bergamasco, F Cristiano, S Vunisa. Replacements: V Bernabo for Cristiano (40 mins), K Haimona for Iannone (50 mins), G Biagi for Bortolami (50 mins), L Leibson for Chistolini (50 mins), O Fabiani for Manici (53 mins), A Lovotti for Aguero (62 mins), A Ferreira for Geldenhuys (70 mins).

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, G D’Arcy, N Reid, D Fanning; I Madigan, I Boss; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Moore; M McCarthy, K Douglas; R Ruddock, J van der Flier, J Conan. Replacements: M Bent for Moore (15 mins), D Toner for Douglas (56 mins), B Byrne for Straudd (60 mins), J Heaslip for Ruddock (62 mins), L McGrath for Boss (64 mins), J Gopperth for D’Arcy (65 mins), M McGrath for Kirchner (72 mins).

Referee: N Paterson (SRU).

 

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