Leinster maintain place at top of table with impressive victory over Benetton

Leinster maintain place at top of table with impressive victory over Benetton

BKT United Rugby Championship leaders Leinster comfortably maintained their place at the top of the table with a 47-18 bonus-point victory over Benetton at the RDS Arena.

Benetton started and finished the first half impressively, with Ignacio Mendy touching down in the first minute and Jacob Umaga tagging a monster penalty onto the winger’s late second try.

That cut Leinster’s lead to 21-18 at the break, but Jason Jenkins bagged their bonus point soon after the restart to add to earlier scores from Scott Penny, Luke McGrath, and Liam Turner.

Making it a seven-try triumph in the end, Academy scrum-half Ben Murphy notched his first senior score, and fellow replacement Brian Deeny and captain Penny added the late gloss.

Ireland head coach Andy Farrell will have noted Ross Byrne’s encouraging return from injury. He landed his first four conversion attempts and was solid throughout his 69 minutes on the pitch.

The Italians swiftly showed exactly why they are sitting second in the standings. They worked the ball wide for Mendy to score in the right corner, with Umaga also converting.

Leinster applied pressure through their forwards in response, and Penny, supported by Ross Molony, plunged over beside the posts. Byrne’s conversion made it seven-all.

The hosts added a quick-fire second converted try in the 13th minute, with scrum-half McGrath the scorer after a slick offload from Jamie Osborne.

Umaga pulled back three points with a 25th-minute penalty, but a smartly-worked try off the training ground released centre Turner to crash over in determined fashion.

Nonetheless, an injection of pace and quick hands put Mendy over to close the gap again, and Umaga’s booming 59-metre penalty made it a three-point game at the turnaround.

Leinster still needed to shake off their rustiness, and lock Jenkins got them back on track with a 42nd-minute try. Tommy O’Brien’s high fielding was a highlight during the build-up.

The Treviso-based side were making more errors now, and the 22-year-old Murphy picked from a 64th-minute scrum and neatly nipped over past two defenders.

Sam Prendergast replaced Byrne at fly-half and his soft hands were all over Leinster’s penultimate try. He provided the assist and conversion for Deeny’s close-range effort, and then Penny drove in low to complete his brace.

Malakai Fekitoa was fortunate to avoid yellow late on for a high hit, but while Umaga was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on, Leinster misfired with a loose Osborne pass in their last attack.

BKT United Rugby Championship Play of the Match

With 33 minutes on the clock, Leinster unlocked the Benetton defence straight from a scrum, some 40 metres out. The half-backs linked with Tommy O'Brien in midfield, putting Turner through a hole and the Ireland Sevens international showed his power and pace to make the line.

Player of the Match

Also back from injury for Leinster was centre Jamie Osborne who had some nice touches in attack, and was workmanlike in defence. His influence grew as Leinster pulled clear on the scoreboard and he was a deserving BKT URC player-of-the-match.

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