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Dublin: 12 °C Monday 16 September, 2019
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Leinster ensure Champions Cup qualification with drab win over Treviso

A miserable evening in Dublin was not conducive to exciting attacking rugby.

Leinster 10

Treviso 0

A FIRST-HALF try from man of the match Jamie Heaslip was crucial as Leinster recorded a 10-0 win over Treviso to ensure they will gain automatic qualification into next season’s Champions Cup.

Jimmy Gopperth tackled by Davide Giazzon Out-half Jimmy Gopperth attempts to break for Leinster. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

The four points, which came courtesy of Heaslip’s try, an Ian Madigan conversion and one Jimmy Gopperth penalty, see Leinster move eight points clear of the chasing pack in fifth position.

With Edinburgh losing this evening to the Dragons and Connacht 13 points behind Leinster, the eastern province will finish in fifth or sixth position, therefore inside the Champions Cup spots.

It was another uninspiring performance from Matt O’Connor’s men as a high error count again limited their attacking threat. That said, the wet and cold conditions in Dublin were unhelpful, while Treviso delivered one of their finest defensive outings of the season.

The Italians had enough possession and territory to make Leinster nervous heading into the closing quarter, but after a late flurry of cards, O’Connor’s men ensured the win with Gopperth’s penalty.

Much of the action at the RDS was played out in the middle third of the pitch as handling proved difficult and defence dominated. Leinster fans hoping for some fireworks late in the season were left disappointed, but four points are key.

The highlight of a forgettable first half was Jamie Heaslip’s ninth-minute try, as the number eight burst through a weak tackle from the base of a powerful Leinster five-metre scrum to score to the left of the posts.

Jamie Heaslip scores a try Captain Jamie Heaslip grounds the ball after breaking from a close-range scrum. Source: Gary Carr/INPHO

That position had been earned by the superb chasing of a hungry Dave Kearney, who hared after brother Rob’s kick deep into the Treviso 22. The Ireland wing, back from a hip flexor issue and aware of back three competition both at Leinster and with Ireland, was lively all evening, showing power in contact and chasing with aggression.

Ian Madigan added the conversion to that try, but that moment aside, the first-half was largely void of excitement for the hardy souls who braved the miserable evening to turn out at the RDS.

Jayden Hayward had a chance to reduce the deficit when he took on a long-range penalty into the wind after Rob Kearney was pinged for holding on 40 metres from his own posts. The Treviso fullback’s effort was wide to the left with a quarter gone.

Leinster’s defensive efforts were extremely impressive when Treviso hung onto the ball, Heaslip with as big a work rate as ever and Mike McCarthy continuing his excellent recent form.

But knock-ons of the slippery ball limited Leinster’s chances of threatening the Italians’ tryline again, Madigan unlucky on one occasion after a wonderful Jordi Murphy offload had set Dave Kearney galloping up the Treviso 22.

Leinster looked to maul Treviso over from 20 metres out after their second last penalty of the half, but when the visitors came in the side with time elapsed, Heaslip asked Madigan to have a shot at goal.

The Ireland international’s attempt from a decent position was, however, wide and Leinster kept their 7-0 lead for the interval.

Shane Jennings says goodbye to Leinster The retiring Shane Jennings was given a superb reception at half time. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

Treviso came out from the break with improved energy, as the accurate kicking of fullback Jayden Hayward began to pin Leinster deep into their own half and frustrating the home support, who had given Shane Jennings a rousing reception at half time.

However, a powerful burst up the left by centre Ben Te’o swung the momentum firmly back in Leinster’s favour. Two phases later, Gopperth dropped a clever cross-field kick wide to the right and Heaslip gathered on the bounce.

Drawing in the last defender, the Ireland number eight offloaded to the trailing Zane Kirchner but the South African failed to gather and a costly knock-on denied O’Connor’s men a crucial score.

Leinster were buoyed though, O’Brien producing a dynamic carry to get them within metres of scoring before Devin Toner was next to spill the greasy pill.

Hayward had another 40-metre chance to draw Treviso close after O’Brien entered the breakdown from the side following a Te’o midfield carry, but again the Kiwi native was wide.

O’Connor sent veteran Gordon D’Arcy into the fray in search of an attacking lift, but it was Treviso who almost grabbed the second try of the game with 67 minutes gone.

Gopperth spilled a high ball inside the Leinster 22 and it almost bounced up for the chasing Ludovico Nitoglia. With no one in front of the Treviso wing, it was a guaranteed try but the ball just evaded the Italian.

Gordon D'Arcy tackled by Enrico Bacchin D'Arcy was a second-half replacement for Leinster. Source: Dan Sheridan/INPHO

As Leinster retreated in the face of a Treviso onslaught, but O’Brien produced a typically strong turnover penalty to end that wave of attack.

O’Connor’s men found a late attacking thrust to go close to scoring again after Dave Kearney gathered a clever grubber close to the Treviso tryline, before referee Leighton Hodges halted play for a length TMO review of two incidents.

Minutes later, Sean O’Brien and Treviso replacement Francesco Minto were sin binned for a scuffle off the ball, while the Italians’ scrum-half, Edoardo Gori saw red for spearing D’Arcy into the ground in a dangerous tackle.

Richardt Strauss was perhaps fortunate not to be punished for a reckless bit of rucking in the same wild passage of play, but Leinster were awarded a penalty after the delay and Gopperth stepped up to hammer it over.

Leinster scorers:

Tries: Jamie Heaslip

Conversions: Ian Madigan [1 from 1]

Penalties: Jimmy Gopperth [1 from 1], Ian Madigan [0 from 1]

Treviso scorers:

Penalties: Jayden Hayward [0 from 2]

LEINSTER: Rob Kearney; Zane Kirchner, Ben Te’o, Ian Madigan (Gordon D’Arcy ’60), Dave Kearney; Jimmy Gopperth, Eoin Reddan (Isaac Boss ’57); Jack McGrath (Michael Bent ’57), Richardt Strauss, Mike Ross (Tadhg Furlong ’57); Devin Toner, Mike McCarthy (Tom Denton ’75); Jordi Murphy (Jack Conan ’75), Sean O’Brien (YC ’76), Jamie Heaslip (capt.).

Replacements not used: Aaron Dundon, Darragh Fanning.

TREVISO: Jayden Hayward; Andrea Pratichetti (blood sub - Angelo Esposito ’18 to ’32), Luca Morisi (Angelo Esposito ’65), Enrico Bacchin, Ludovico Nitoglia; Sam Christie, Edoardo Gori (RC ’76); Matteo Zanusso (Romulo Acosta ’52), Davide Giazzon (Albert Anae ’59), Rupert Harden (Salesi Manu ’44); Marco Fuser, Corniel Van Zyl (capt.) (Meyer Swanepoel ’52); Paul Derbyshire (Marco Lazzaroni ’66), Nicola Cattina (Francesco Minto ’52 – YC ’76)), Mat Luamanu.

Replacements not used: James Ambrosini.

Referee: Leighton Hodges [WRU].

Attendance: 11,322.

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About the author:

Murray Kinsella

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