Leinster recovered from a slow start to beat Benetton Treviso 25-9, scoring three tries to one, for a very acceptable win.
It won’t strike fear into the heart of Europe, but for Leinster, this was all about avoiding the banana skin.
A 25-9 scoreline flattered the visitors by all accounts, but Leinster will take it and move on happily, knowing that the Bath and Bourgoin will be worked hard to achieve the same outcome.
Treviso got off to much the better start and dominated the opening fifteen minutes, by which time they were 6-0 ahead, courtesy of two penalty strikes by Marius Goosen. And it could have been worse, as Parisse was halted just short. When Shane Horgan was penalised for a deliberate knock-on, it curtailed a promising backline move and the bonus was that Goosen missed the kick at goal.
But Leinster weathered the storm and Holwell was able to punish Italian lapses with two penalties, in the 16th and 24th minutes to restore parity.
A classic kick to touch penalty, lineout take and ‘up yer jumper’ maul saw Shane Byrne getting the touchdown following the confirmation of the TV Match Official. At 11-6, Leinster were decidedly happy with the scoreline at the interval, given the previous forty minutes in which they had looked hesitant.
There was more of the same on the resumption, with the Italians pressuring inside the Leinster 22 with a series of mauls. When Malcolm O’Kelly was sinbinned for an infringement at the breakdown, it was looking pretty ominous, particularly when Goosen reduced the gap to two by converting the penalty.
But Leinster managed to keep Treviso scoreless during O’Kelly’s absence and might even have bagged a try themselves through darting runs from McCullen and Costello. When the second row returned they did succeed in scoring. The forwards punched it up through several phases, sucking in the Treviso defence before the ball was released wide through Holwell, O’Driscoll and D’Arcy to send Horgan in in the corner. Lesson learned from the Ospreys game perhaps, when Leinster were trying to do it too early. Holwell’s convert saw Leinster out to 18-9 on 61 minutes and breathing a bit more easily.
Leinster saw it out and even decorated the scoreline in the 84th minute when Hickie and O’Driscoll combined from deep for O’Driscoll to score. Holwell’s convert completed the scoring.
Job done, Kidney was happy that the players didn’t panic when under pressure in the opening quarter. ‘We didn’t show any panic when we were 6-0 down because we’d done our homework ands we knew we were up against a very good side’.