Leinster secure hard-fought win over Benetton
MATCH REPORT: Leinster scored four tries in a hard-fought 37-25 victory at Benetton to make it two wins from their opening two PRO14 games.
James Tracy and James Lowe crossed for a score each in the first half, with Sebastian Negri responding for the hosts.
Benetton’s Epalahame Faiva crossed shortly after the break before Leinster regained control through a penalty try.
Gianmarco Lucchesi’s score made it a five-point game late on but Ross Molony finished it for Leinster and secured a bonus point.
Leinster welcomed centre Robbie Henshaw back into the fold and he partnered stand-in captain Garry Ringrose in midfield.
Ross Byrne kicked two early penalties to put the visitors 6-3 ahead, before Benetton were reduced to 14 men when winger Iliesa Ratuva was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
However, it was Benetton who scored next through Paulo Garbisi’s second penalty but the Irishmen got on top mid-way through the first half and scored their first try off the back of a rolling maul, with Tracy the man dotting down.
Benetton refused to be bullied though and pinned Leinster inside their own five-metre line with a series of line-outs and scrums, resulting in a yellow card for James Ryan.
They took advantage almost immediately, with flank Negri reaching out to score while under pressure.
Leinster hit back on half-time, with winger Lowe bolting through from close range to score their second of the game.
But any hopes they had of pulling away in the second half were initially dashed when Faiva powered over from close-range following a driving maul, but Garbisi missed the conversion and Leinster stayed ahead.
They extended that in the 56th minute when their scrum won a penalty five metres from the Benetton line and punished the hosts with a penalty try.
But Benetton did not give up and set up a thrilling finale when replacement Lucchesi crossed for a try with seven minutes left, making it a five-point game.
However, Leinster responded how champions do as Molony scored to bring up a bonus point.
Tries: Negri, Faiva, Lucchesi
Cons: Garbisi 2
Pens: Byrne 3
Tries: Tracy, Lowe, Ryan
Cons: Byrne 3
Pens: Byrne 3
Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Marco Zanon, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Paolo Garbisi, 9 Dewaldt Duvenage (captain), 8 Toa Halafihi 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Sebastian Negri, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Hame Faiva, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Gianmarco Lucchesi, 17 Nicola Quaglio, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Giovanni Pettinelli, 22 Callum Braley, 23 Edoardo Padovani
Leinster: 15 Hugo Keenan, 14 Jordan Larmour, 13 Garry Ringrose (captain), 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 James Lowe, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Will Connors, 6 Caelan Doris, 5 James Ryan, 4 Ryan Baird, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Ed Byrne
Replacements: 16 Seán Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Tom Clarkson, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 Luke McGrath, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Jimmy O’Brien
Referee: Ben Whitehouse
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi, Andrea Spadoni
TMO: Marius Mitrea