Leinster earned a 42-8 win over Treviso at the RDS on Thursday night. The match was close for the majority of the evening, but four late tries helped Leinster gain a bonus point victory.
Isa Nacewa put in a man-of-the-match performance and was crucial for Leinster in the first half. The New Zealander scored 20 points overall including a later try. Leinster also scored tries through Ian Madigna, Richardt Strauss, John Cooney and Fionn Carr, while Matteo Muccignat scored for Treviso.
Both teams were faced with tough, wet conditions, which made handling difficult. Leinster were the better attacking team in the first half, however, and deservedly took an 11-3 lead into the break.
Treviso’s defending was strong and kept the scores close, but some key handling errors in the Leinster half also hurt their scoring opportunities.
Isa Nacewa had an excellent game for Leinster and was everywhere in the first period. When not breaking forward at speed and kicking points, the New Zealander was intercepting cross-field passes.
When Leinster were awarded a penalty near the left touchline in the fifth minute, it was Nacewa who dispatched the opportunity with aplomb.
Leinster had a couple of quality counter-attacks in the following period. The Irish team stole the ball and moved it wide. A long, probing kick then bounced out of bounds just before the Treviso try line.
Minutes later a clever cross-field ball was claimed impressively by Nacewa. The New Zealander immediately went on the offensive and ran down the left wing. Nacewa passed to Brendan Macken, who quickly returned the ball. A great lunge from a Treviso player stopped Nacewa as he approached the last defender, however.
Despite Treviso’s struggle to create attacking opportunities in the early stages, the Italian side equalised in the 19th minute with a drop goal. Outhalf Alberto Di Bernardo hit a poor shot, but his effort sneaked over.
The parity lasted all of three minutes as Ian Madigan scored his sixth try of the season and the first try of the day in the 22nd minute. A long attacking kickoff and a turnover gave Leinster good field position. The ball was slowly worked to the right and passed to Madigan ten yards from the try line. Madigan used quick, intricate footwork to dart between two Treviso defender and he dived over the try line to give Leinster an 8-3 lead.
Nacewa’s impressive first half continued as he intercepted another probing through ball from Treviso and managed to add a penalty in the 33rd minute to make it 11-3 at half-time.
For periods of the second half, the result looked in doubt. Treviso made a couple of long, probing kicks that gave them opportunities near the Leinster try line.
In the 43rd minute, a long kick was collected five yards from the Leinster line by Nacewa, who slid out of play. Treviso collected the lineout and drove forward to the try line. Only desperation from the defence, and in particular Shane Jennings, kept Treviso out. The Italian team were camped on the Leinster line and finally found a free player out wide, but Ludovico Nitoglia knocked the ball on.
Di Bernardo missed the chance to score a penalty from a decent angle in the 48th minute. Instead, it was Nacewa who scored the first points of the second period as he used the wind to curl the ball over the bar.
Treviso’s good work in the early part of the second half was rewarded in the 55th minute. The Italian team passed to the short side from a scrum. The ball was thrown to an unmarked Matteo Muccignat and the prop scored in the corner. Di Bernardo failed to add the conversion from a difficult angle.
Leinster upped the tempo after the penalty and controlled the rest of the match, however, scoring four tries in the last 18 minutes.
A great line break from Fionn Carr helped create Leinster’s second try. The wing made a quick burst through multiple Treviso defenders and was tackled just as he seemed to have broken free. The ball was worked left to Macken, who almost beat the last defender. Moments later Richardt Strauss received the ball five yards out and he ran over for a try, which Nacewa converted.
Nacewa got the try his performance deserved in the 66th minute. David Kearney came off the bench and was instrumental in Nacewa’s try. The New Zealander made a quality run before passing to Kearney on the left wing. The substitute inserted a quick burst of pace before passing back to Nacewa, who ran over the try line uncontested. Nacewa then kicked a conversion from a difficult angle to make it a 20 point game.
Leinster wrapped up the bonus point four minutes later, with a good line break from Nacewa creating the opening. He slipped the ball to John Cooney, who was left to run under the posts with no defender in sight. Nacewa scored from an easy conversion in what turned out to be his last meaningful contribution of the night. The New Zealander went off to a huge round of applause minutes later.
Treviso battled to keep the score down, but Leinster added another try in the final minute. Fionn Carr collected a cross-field ball, sidestepped a defender and ran over the try line. Ian Madigan scored the conversion from a difficult angle to end the game and complete a high scoring evening for the Heineken Cup champions.