Benetton 10 Leinster 36: Leinster had to wait eight months to see James Lowe touch down on Irish soil after the province announced him as their marquee signing for the season.
But the Kiwi wasted no time in repaying their patience, scoring the first of doubtless many Leinster tries just 16 minutes into his debut.
A second arrived 52 minutes later after Leo Cullen’s men had earned a bonus point win over Benetton.
“James [Lowe] is a player we admired from afar,” said Leinster boss Cullen, “He has credentials as a proven finisher. It was nice for him to get off the mark and to get through 80 minutes.”
Lowe, starting on the left wing, slotted in seamlessly with his new teammates, enjoying a good rapport with scrum-half Luke McGrath – with the pair linking up twice for a try apiece.
Garry Ringrose also got in on the scoring, on his first appearance in blue or green this season, after undergoing surgery on his shoulder after returning from Ireland’s tour in Japan. The midfielder may feel under pressure at international level after the impressive performance of Chris Farrell and Bundee Aki last month, and getting right back on the scoresheet is a good way to go about responding – particularly ahead of next week’s Champions Cup meeting with Exeter Chiefs.
“Garry hasn’t played since the summer tour, he’s had to do a lot of work to get to this point,” said Cullen. “It was great to see him coming straight back in, he looked at home.” Jordi Murphy scored the other try for the boys in blue, to keep Leinster in touch with Conference B leaders Scarlets – with the Welsh side going down to the Cheetahs in South Africa on Saturday.
Ross Byrne continued to show his quality at No 10, slotting home four conversions and one penalty while Josh van der Flier delivered a well-timed display of strength in the back row, on his return to fitness, adding to Cullen’s options ahead of the trip to Exeter Chiefs, the Premiership champions, on Sunday.
Banks; Benvenuti, Brex, Sgarbi (c) (Morisi, 72min), Sperandio; Allan, Bronzini (Gori, 46min); Traore (Quaglio, ht), Baravelle (Faiva, 46min), Pasquali (De Marchi, 66min); Zanni (Lazzaroni, 63min), Herbst (Ruzza, 46min); Douglas, Manu (Negri, 49min), Barbieri
Larmour; Kearney (McFadden, 61min), Ringrose, Reid, Lowe (O’Loughlin, 75min); Byrne; McGrath (c) (McCarthy, 65min); McGrath (E Byrne, 58min), Tracy (Cronin, 58min), Porter (Abdaladze, 70min); Nagle (Kearney, 58min), Fardy; Jordi Murphy, van der Flier (Deegan, 70min), Conan
David Wilkinson (IRFU)
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