Leinster in damp squib

Guinness Pro12

Leinster in damp squib

Where not only did their European aspiration end prematurely, but they are also gone from the league just when that competition is entering the real business part of the season.

At least Leinster put paid to any fears that they would not qualify for next season’s Champions Cup after fashioning an expected victory.

Treviso finished with 13 men after scrum-half Edoardo Gori was red-carded for a tip tackle on Gordon D’Arcy in the closing minutes while, in the same passage of play, Francesco Minto and Leinster’s Sean O’Brien received yellows for a scuffle.

Leinster didn’t do it the easy way — again — failing to build on a bright opening against a Treviso side who had lost their last five league games and conceded a try bonus point in each of them.

Yet, they had more to play for than Leinster at a sparsely attended RDS on a night when neither the rugby nor the foul weather did little to lift the soul.

Leinster had only won two of their previous 11 games in all competitions and they showed plenty of signs of a side lacking in confidence and direction.

It took a while for Leinster’s early dominance to be reflected on the scoreboard but the perseverance paid off when skipper Jamie Heaslip dummied off a close-range scrum to get over for his first try of the season.

Ian Madigan added the conversion from the left to push Leinster 7-0 in front and the foundation had been laid to push on and kill off the very limited Italians, who are fighting a basement battle with Zebre for the Italian Champions Cup spot.

Yet it was Treviso, who have not won outside Italy all season, who responded better to the opening try. While Jayden Hayward was narrowly off target with a penalty from 40 metres, they grew in confidence.

Leinster were forced on the back foot as Treviso strung 21 phases together inside the home 22 but, not for the first time, Sean O’Brien restored order with a good turnover on the turf and the danger was cleared.

leinster looked set to increase their lead before the break with a good move off a penalty to touch before Treviso were pinged close to their line. Leinster opted for the points but somehow Madigan skewed the ball wide to leave it 7-0 at the break.

It continued to be an error-ridden affair after the restart. O’Brien went close with a good burst but Leinster lost the tempo again and the game became even more disjointed as the benches were emptied.

The biggest cheer of the night came on the hour when D’Arcy was drafted in for his final home match before retirement while Shane Jennings, who wasn’t in the matchday squad, was applauded at the interval before his retirement next week.

Hayward missed another penaty from 40 metres and then as tempers became frayed in the closing minutes, Gopperth marked his final match for Leinster at the RDS by securing the win with a late penalty.

Scorers for Leinster: Try: J Heaslip, Con: I Madigan, Pen: J Gopperth

Leinster: R Kearney; Z Kirchner, B Te’o, I Madigan, D Kearney; J Gopperth, E Reddan; J McGrath, R Strauss, M Ross; D Toner, M McCarthy; J Murphy, S O’Brien, J Heaslip.

Replacements: I Boss for Reddan, M Bent for McGrath, T Furlong for Ross, all 56; G D’Arcy for Madigan, 60; J Conan for Murphy,

Treviso: J Hayward; A Pratichetti, L Morisi, E Bacchin, L Nitoglia; S Christie, E Gori; M Zanusso, D Giazzon, R Harden; M Fuser, C Van Zyl; P Derbyshire, N Cattina, M Luamanu.

Replacements: S Man for Harden, 45; R Acosta for Zanusso, M Swanepoel for Van Zyl, F Minto for Cattina, all 52; A Anae for Giazzon, 59; A Esposito for Morisi, 65; M Lazzaroni for Derbyshire, 66.

Referee: L Hodges (WRU).

Irish prop Cian Healy has undergone surgery on a neck injury which is not expected to impact on his World Cup participation. Leinster coach Matt O’Connor revealed last night that Healy’s went for surgery yesterday afternoon and that it was successful.

“I just want to say that Cian Healy had neck surgery this afternoon. He saw the specialist yesterday afternoon. He had his disc repaired this evening and he is recovering well.”

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