Leinster put 70 on Zebre

Date published: January 6 2017

Leinster made light work of Zebre by dishing out a 70-point thrashing at the RDS Arena in Dublin on Friday.

A Rory O’Loughlin hat-trick helped Leinster secure a convincing win on Johnny Sexton’s return from injury.

First-half tries from Sean O’Brien, Hayden Triggs, Luke McGrath and Cian Healy wrapped up the bonus point after half an hour, before O’Loughlin added a fifth before the break.

O’Loughlin and Garry Ringrose both scored twice in the second half, added to by Jamie Heaslip’s late score, while Zebre’s only points came from the boot of Italian kicker Edoardo Padovani.

Robbie Henshaw broke through the Zebre defence in order to set up the opener, when the ball was shipped wide to O’Brien to dab down on four minutes. Sexton added the extras from the tee.

Padovani opened the visitors’ account with a penalty, before lock Triggs found an immediate reply by carrying over. Sexton slotted the conversion, before Padovani added a second kick to his side’s tally.

Leinster’s third was scored when Zane Kirchner returned a pass to the hands of scrum-half McGrath for him to score under the posts unchallenged, making Sexton’’s conversion a simple one.

Irish international Healy secured the bonus point for the hosts after thirty minutes with a try of his own, followed by Sexton maintaining his 100 percent record from the tee.

O’Loughlin scored try number five on the verge of half-time, when a strong push at the scrum allowed the wing to race home down the blindside. Sexton’’s inch-perfect conversion took his side in at the break with a 35-6 lead.

Outside centre Ringrose added a sixth in the 47th minute when Sexton found his teammate running a hard line through the Zebre defence, before the fly-half converted.

A lull in second-half action saw Zebre hold out for 20 minutes, before back-to-back tries from wing O’Laughlin either side of the 70-minute mark only compounded their misery. Replacement fly-half Ross Byrne converted both efforts.

Following Guillermo Roan’s yellow card six minutes from time, Leinster’s five-metre scrum led to Ringrose adding a second try to his name and ninth on the night, before Byrne slotted the kick.

The final play of the night saw back-row Heaslip add a tenth against the Italians minnows, while Byrne’s kick took their tally to 70 points to return to the top of the PRO12 standings.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: O’Brien, Triggs, McGrath, Healy, O’Loughlin 3, Ringrose 2, Heaslip
Cons: Sexton 6, Bryne 4

For Zebre:
Pens: Padovani 2
Yellow Card: Roan

Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Rory O’Loughlin, 10 Johnny Sexton (c), 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Dan Leavy, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Tadhg Furlong, 19 Rhys Ruddock, 20 Jamie Heaslip, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Noel Reid

Zebre: 15 Kurt Baker, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Matteo Pratichetti, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Lloyd Greeff, 10 Edoardo Padovani, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Federico Ruzza, 6 Derick Minnie, 5 George Biagi (c), 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Tommaso D’Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Guillermo Roan, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Maxime Mbandà, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Giovanbattista Venditti, 23 Serafin Bordoli

Referee: Dan Jones (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Simon Rees (Wales), Jonny Erskine (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Hennessey (Wales)