Leinster secure home semi-final with Treviso win

Rob Kearney and Johnny Sexton both picked up injuries in 31-point victory in the RDS

Gary Ringrose goes on a mazy run against Treviso at the RDS. Photograph: Inpho

Gary Ringrose goes on a mazy run against Treviso at the RDS. Photograph: Inpho

 

Leinster 50 Treviso 19

Leinster will play at home in the Guinness Pro12 semi-finals, after they recorded a comprehensive 31-point triumph over Benetton Treviso at the RDS on Saturday afternoon.

Jonathan Sexton’s early try had 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, Jack McGrath secured a bonus point for the three-time champions with his 10th try at provincial level, 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.

The Blues entered this contest knowing that a 16th league victory of 2015/16 would secure a top-two finish, while their opponents were aiming to qualify for next season’s Champions Cup as the league’s best-placed Italian side.

However, it was Leinster who ultimately broke deadlock on nine minutes, when a sweeping move on the left-flank involving Nacewa, Rob Kearney and Dave Kearney was finished over the line by Sexton.

The hosts were now forcing their Azzurri counterparts on the back-foot on a constant basis, 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 Irish international and after he discovered a gap in the Treviso defence, the ever-industrious hooker recorded his second five-pointer of the proceedings.

With his third conversion attempt of the game, Sexton was finally on-target, and Leinster were in pole position when the half-time whistle sounded.

It seemed like only a matter of time before Leinster registered a bonus-point score, and just seven minutes after the restart Jack McGrath was on hand to apply the finishing touches to an extended attack in the Treviso half.

After picking up a heavy knock in an off-the-ball incident with Treviso replacement Marco Lazzaroni, Sexton was unavailable for the latest bonus kick that followed this score. Yet, in his absence, club skipper Nacewa made no mistake off his dependable right-foot, and he created even further daylight between the teams with a superb seven-point salvo after 51 minutes.

It was becoming a damage limitation exercise for Treviso at this point, but a maiden try in the Leinster colours for second-row Mick Kearney increased their deficit just shy of the hour mark.

There was a degree of solace in the form of a converted 62nd-minute Lazzaroni try for Treviso, but Leinster quickly responded with a five-pointer of their own by second-half substitute Noel Reid.

A resilient Treviso added tries through replacements Matteo Muccignat and Enrico Bacchin in the 73rd and 78th minutes respectively, and although injuries to Rob Kearney and Sexton will be of concern to Cullen, he will have been pleased to see Ringrose completing a productive afternoon with his third try at first-team level.

Scorers - Leinster: I Nacewa try, 4 cons, R Strauss 2 tries, J Sexton try, con, J McGrath, M Kearney, N Reid, G Ringrose try each. Benetton Travis: M Lazzaroni, M Muccignat, E Bacchin try each, J Hayward 2 cons.

LEINSTER: R Kearney; I Nacewa, G Ringrose, B Te’o, D Kearney; J Sexton, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross; R Molony, M Kearney; R Ruddock, J Murphy, J Heaslip.

Replacements: N Reid for R Kearney 24 mins, C Marsh for Sexton 47 mins, S Cronin for Strauss, T Furlong for Ross both 52 mins, D Ryan for Ruddock 54 mins, P Dooley for J McGrath 55 mins, H Triggs for M Kearney 58 mins, L McGrath for Reddan 69 mins.

BENETTON TREVISO: J Hayward; L Nitoglia, T Iannone. A Sgarbi, A Esposito; L McLean, E Gori; M Zanusso, O Gega, S Ferrari; M Fuser, F Paulo; F Minto, A Zanni, A Steyn.

Replacements: E Bacchin for Iannone, M Lazzaroni for Zanni both h-t, A Lucchese for Gori 42 mins, L Bigi for Gega 54 mins, S Manu for Ferrari 55 mins, M Muccignat for Zanusso, A De Marchi for Minto both 67 mins.

Referee: B Whitehouse (WRU).

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