Four second half tries gave Leinster a bonus point win against Aironi tonight at the RDS with the Heineken Cup champions winning 26-7.
Luke Fitzgerald stood out for the home side and looks to becoming right back to his top form and capped a man of the match performance with a well taken second half try.
In what was a poor first half Leinster could and should have been at least six points to the good. Isa Nacewa however had a rare off night with the boot and he misses three easy chances from the tee in the opening twenty minutes.
To their credit Aironi took the game to Leinster in stages of the first half. Fly half Tito Tebaldi kicked and controlled the pace and tempo of Aironi’s play and his kicking pinged Leinster back into their own half which forced Aironi onto the front foot.
Their hard work paid off in the 33rd minute, when after some good play from their forwards it was Nick Williams who crashed over Leinster’s line to send the RDS into silence and the Italian outfit when into half time seven points to the good.
Leinster, however came out like a different team in the second half, led in the main of the introduction of Ian Madigan. He brought a new dimension to Leinster’s back play and it was Madigan who brought Leinster back into the game on the 46th minute mark.
After constant pressure from Leinster’s forwards it was Madigan who benifited from the work of his forwards and crashed over the line to bring Leinster back into the game.
That try proved to be the fuse that lit Leinster and along with Madigan, Luke Fitzgerald showed a lot of his old sparkle and was at the heart of many good phases from Leinster.
It was Nacewa however that put his poor kicking display in the first half behind him with a clinical try that gave Leinster the bufffer that they needed.
Fitzgerald capped a man of the match performance after he intercepted a badly timed pass from Tyson Keates to run uninterrupted to score Leinster’s third try of the game.
Fitzgerald’s try took the fizz out of Aironi, who looked very limited when the pressure came on. Captain Rhys Ruddock secured the bonus point for Leinster after he got over the line moments before the final whistle.
Speaking after the game Leinster coach Joe Schmidt was understandably happy with his sides second half display “We are delighted to get the bonus point” said Schmidt and admits that his young side are coping without their front line internationals.
“We are keeping our head above water, but we are paddling like mad. We had some young guys in the beginning who needed a boost and they have got that now. They will be able to fight on through from now on”