Leinster hoping Rob Kearney will be fit for Pro12 semi-final

Leo Cullen allays fears over Sexton as province run in eight tries against Italians

Garry Ringrose scores Leinster’s eighth and final try against Treviso. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

Garry Ringrose scores Leinster’s eighth and final try against Treviso. Photograph: Dan Sheridan/Inpho

 

Leinster 50 Treviso 19

Leinster will play Ulster at home in the semi-finals on Friday week after they recorded a comprehensive 31-point triumph over Benetton Treviso at the RDS on Saturday afternoon.

Johnny Sexton’s early try created a strong platform for the home team and thanks to a brace of touchdowns from hooker Richardt Strauss, Leinster brought a commanding 17-0 cushion into the interval period.

When the action resumed, Jordi Murphy secured a bonus point for the three-time champions, and despite conceding scores to Marco Lazzaroni, Matteo Muccignat and Enrico Bacchin, further tries from Isa Nacewa, Mick Kearney, Noel Reid and Garry Ringrose ensured Leinster’s comfortable win.

There was some concern for Leo Cullen with Sexton and Rob Kearney picking up injuries, and even though the Leinster head coach stated that his outhalf should be fit for the encounter with Les Kiss’s side, he revealed that Kearney would be assessed in the coming days.

Bang on his quad

“He [Sexton] makes a pass and he gets hit. I don’t think so, no [that he’s a doubt for semi-final]. We discussed it at half-time. We were close to pulling him at that stage because he had a bang on his quad as well,” Cullen said.

“We left him out there a bit longer and he gets hit, but we got the fourth try. Cathal Marsh had prepped during the week, so it was good to get him on there.

Second Captains

“We’re getting Rob assessed. He just went over on his ankle, he tried to run it off, but it wasn’t getting any better, so we made the call to take him off pretty early.”

Leinster entered this contest knowing that a 16th league victory of 2015/16 would secure a top-two finish, and they broke the deadlock on nine minutes when a sweeping move on the left-flank involving Nacewa, Rob Kearney and Dave Kearney was finished by Sexton.

The hosts were now forcing Treviso on to the back-foot and from a rolling maul at the end of the first-quarter, Strauss claimed a pushover score.

This was the opening try of the current campaign for the 30-year-old international he made it two soon after when he discovered a gap in the Treviso defence.

With his third conversion attempt of the game, Sexton was finally on target, and Leinster were in pole position at half-time. It was only a matter of time before Leinster registered a bonus-point score, and just seven minutes after the restart Jack McGrath applied the finishing touches to an extended attack.

After picking up a heavy knock in an off-the-ball incident with Marco Lazzaroni, Sexton was unavailable for the conversion.

Yet, in his absence, club skipper Nacewa made no mistake – and he created even further daylight between the teams with a superb seven-point salvo after 51 minutes.

Solace

A maiden try in the Leinster colours for secondrow Mick Kearney increased the home side’s lead just shy of the hour mark. There was a degree of solace for Treviso in the form of a converted 62nd-minute Lazzaroni try, but Leinster quickly responded with a five-pointer of their own by second-half substitute Noel Reid.

A resilient Treviso added tries through replacements Muccignat and Bacchin in the 73rd and 78th minutes, before Ringrose completed the scoring in stoppage-time with his third try at first-team level – helping to seal Leinster’s top-place finish in style.

LEINSTER: R Kearney; Nacewa, Ringrose, Te’o, D Kearney; Sexton, Reddan; J McGrath, Strauss, Ross, Molony, M Kearney, Ruddock, Murphy, Heaslip. Replacements: Reid for R Kearney (23 mins), Marsh for Sexton (46 mins), L McGrath for Reddan (68 mins), Dooley for J McGrath (54 mins), Furlong for Ross (51 mins), Triggs for M Kearney (57 mins), D Ryan for Ruddock (53 mins).

TREVISO: Hayward; Nitoglia, Iannone, Sgarbi, Esposito; McLean, Gori; Zanusso, Gega, Ferrari, Fuser, Paulo, Minto, Zanni, Steyn. Replacements: Bacchin for Iannone, Lucchese for Gori (both 41 mins), Bigi for Gega (53 mins), Manu for Ferrari (54 mins), Lazzaroni for Zanni (41 mins), Ambrosini for Nitoglia (73 mins). Sin Bin: Paulo (55 mins).

Referee: B Whitehouse (Wales).

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