Pro12 leaders Leinster were made to work very hard for their 22-6 victory over Aironi at the Stadio Zaffanella on Friday.
Pro12 leaders Leinster were made to work very hard for their 22-6 victory over Aironi in the battle of the top and bottom sides at the Stadio Zaffanella on Friday.
Despite having only recorded three wins all season, the home side competed well as the first half wore on and threatened on a couple of occasions through their forwards and scrum-half Tito Tebaldi sniping around the breakdown.
They were unable to trouble the scoreboard though and Leinster edged further and further in front with three penalties from Ian Madigan, the second going over off the upright, to give the visitors a 9-0 half-time lead.
South African fly-half Naas Olivier, who turns 30 next Saturday, reduced the deficit for Aironi shortly after the restart and midway through the second-half replacement Tyson Keats took over the kicking duties to draw his side to within three points of the Dubliners.
Just as the Italians looked to have the momentum though, two more Madigan penalties either side of a yellow card for Aironi's replacement centre Gilberto Pavan put Leinster back in control.
The league leaders then dealt the killer blow with five minutes remaining as another replacement, Noel Reid, intercepted a long, floated pass before racing over half the length of the pitch to touch down underneath the posts.
Young prop Jack McGrath was sent to the sin bin late on for the visitors but it was never going to affect the outcome as Leinster cemented their place at the top of the table.
Pens: Olivier, Orquera
Pens: Madigan 5
Yellow cards: Pavan (Aironi – 71st min) ; McGrath (Leinster – 80th min)
Aironi: 15 Giulio Toniolatti, 14 Riccardo Pavan, 13 Roberto Quartaroli, 12 Gabriel Pizarro, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Naas Olivier, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Josh Sole, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Carlo Del Fava, 4 George Biagi, 3 Lorenzo Romano, 2 Roberto Santamaria (capt), 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Fabio Ongaro, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 Luca Redolfini, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Tyson Keats, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Gilberto Pavan.
Leinster: 15 Luke Fitzgerald, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Eoin O'Malley, 12 Brendan Macken, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Rhys Ruddock, 7 Shane Jennings (capt), 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Nathan White, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Leo Auva'a, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Isa Nacewa.
Venue: Stadio Zaffanella
Referee: Andrew Macpherson
Assistant Referees: Stefano Penne and Filippo Bertelli
Television Match Official: Alan Falzone