Schmidt gets valuable forward momentum

Leinster 37 Zebre 7

Schmidt gets valuable forward momentum

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt had plenty to occupy his thoughts before the opening whistle of this RaboDirect affair at the RDS on Saturday.

He spent a chunk of the afternoon running the rule over Sunday’s Heineken Cup opponents Clermont, who crashed to a 30-22 loss against Toulouse in the Top 14.

But such a result shouldn’t necessarily be a cause for optimism amongst the Leinster faithful.

Schmidt explained: “I saw their starting 15 and a number of their guys were on their bench. I think Brock James, Davit Zirakashvili, Damien Chouly — those guys didn’t come on to the field at all. They started with what would be very much a mixed team for them. Of their starting Heineken Cup 15, not too many featured. None of their front row [started] — Zirakashvili, Benjamin Kayser and Thomas Domingo were all left out. Jamie Cudmore started at six, not in the second row. Nathan Hines started but he needed a bit of game time. !I’ve no doubt that they’ve been doing some homework already and they’ll be building momentum towards Sunday.”

And back in Dublin, it was all about momentum towards Sunday also. Sean O’Brien created a small panic when he rolled his ankle but the Tullow Tank will be fit for the weekend, while Jonathan Sexton continued where he left off against Argentina last weekend with another polished display. Both were withdrawn at the interval with the game effectively over at 17-0.

A Sexton penalty on 25 minutes was soon followed by an Andrew Conway try in the right-hand corner after wonderful work by Fergus McFadden. Sexton was at the centre of most of his team’s best moves and showed strength and determination on 34 minutes to stretch over for a try. Zebre were determined to make a contest of their first visit to Dublin and were rewarded with a Tito Tebaldi try 10 minutes after the break. It was not until Cian Healy crossed for a 69th-minute try, Leinster’s fourth of five, that the bonus-point win was secure.

McFadden, excellent on the left wing, crossed for his second try of the night on 78 minutes after a fine offload from outside centre Gordon D’Arcy. The performance of the duo, in positions that would not be their first choice, has given Schmidt pause for thought ahead of the trip to France.

Scorers for Leinster: Tries: McFadden (2), Sexton, Healy, Conway. Pens: Sexton, McFadden. Cons: Sexton (2), McFadden.

Scorers for Zebre: Try: Tebaldi. Con: Halangahu.

LEINSTER: I Nacewa; A Conway, G D’Arcy, A Goodman, F McFadden; J Sexton, E Reddan; H van der Merwe, S Cronin, M Bent; L Cullen (c), D Browne; K McLaughlin, R Ruddock, S O’Brien.

Replacements: I Madigan for J Sexton (40), Healy for H van der Merwe), M Ross for M Bent, T Denton for D Browne (all 52), F Carr for I Nacewa (60), I Boss for G D’Arcy 65, A Dundon for S Cronin (74), J Murphy for S O’Brien.

ZEBRE: R Trevisan, L Sarto, G Garcia (c), M Pratichetti, S Sinoti; D Halangahu, T Tebaldi , M Aguero, C Festuccia, D Ryan; Q Geldenhuys, J Sole; N Cattina, M Bergamasco, F Cristiano.

Replacements: P Buso for S Sinoti, A De Marchi for M Aguero, D Giazzon for C Festuccia, C Fazzari for D Ryan (all 52), E Caffini for F Cristiano, D Odiete for R Trevisan (both 60), A Chillon for T Tebaldi (63), N Belardo for N Cattina (71),

Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Sco).

More in this section

CourtsRugbyPlace: DublinPlace: FrancePerson: SchmidtPerson: ZebrePerson: Andrew GoodmanPerson: Leonardo SartoPerson: Joe SchmidtPerson: Brock JamesPerson: Davit ZirakashviliPerson: Damien ChoulyPerson: ZirakashviliPerson: Benjamin KayserPerson: Thomas DomingoPerson: Jamie CudmorePerson: Nathan HinesPerson: Sean O’BrienPerson: Jonathan SextonPerson: SextonPerson: Andrew ConwayPerson: Fergus McFaddenPerson: Tito TebaldiPerson: Cian HealyPerson: McFaddenPerson: Gordon D’ArcyPerson: HealyPerson: ConwayPerson: TebaldiPerson: HalangahuPerson: I NacewaPerson: A ConwayPerson: G D’ArcyPerson: A GoodmanPerson: F McFaddenPerson: J SextonPerson: E ReddanPerson: H van der MerwePerson: S CroninPerson: M BentPerson: L CullenPerson: D BrownePerson: K McLaughlinPerson: R RuddockPerson: S O’BrienPerson: MadiganPerson: M RossPerson: T DentonPerson: F CarrPerson: I BossPerson: GPerson: D’ArcyPerson: APerson: J MurphyPerson: R TrevisanPerson: L SartoPerson: G GarciaPerson: M PratichettiPerson: S SinotiPerson: D HalangahuPerson: T TebaldiPerson: M AgueroPerson: C FestucciaPerson: D RyanPerson: Q GeldenhuysPerson: J SolePerson: N CattinaPerson: M BergamascoPerson: F CristianoPerson: P BusoPerson: A De MarchiPerson: D GiazzonPerson: C FazzariPerson: E CaffiniPerson: DPerson: A ChillonPerson: N BelardoPerson: Andrew McMenemyEvent: Heineken CupOrganisation: LeinsterOrganisation: ZebreOrganisation: RaboDirectOrganisation: RDSOrganisation: ClermontOrganisation: ToulouseOrganisation: Tullow TankOrganisation: Argentina

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox