Belfast Telegraph

Lacklustre Leinster struggle to stamp European passport

By Staff Reporter

Leinster qualified for next season's European Champions Cup with a 10-0 Guinness PRO12 win over Benetton Treviso, but their lacklustre performance will do little to quieten critics of head coach Matt O'Connor.

On a night when the home fans paid tribute to the retiring Shane Jennings and Gordon D'Arcy, O'Connor's men struggled to see off second-from-bottom Treviso in the Dublin rain.

Jamie Heaslip's eighth-minute converted try was the only score of a drab first half, with rival place-kickers Jayden Hayward and Ian Madigan missing one penalty apiece and the result was only sealed by a 77th-minute penalty from Jimmy Gopperth.

That came just moments after referee Leighton Hodges red carded Edoardo Gori for a dangerous tackle on D'Arcy and a subsequent incident at a ruck saw Sean O'Brien and Treviso's Francesco Minto both sin-binned.

Despite the forgettable showing, this victory, coupled with the Dragons' defeat of Edinburgh, means last year's league winners are guaranteed a top-six finish and a 2015-16 Champions Cup berth.

There was no stopping Leinster captain Heaslip as he broke off the side of a five-metre scrum and crashed over past the covering Nicola Cattina.

After Madigan added the left-sided conversion, lively scrum-half Gori sparked a strong response from the Italians and Hayward was off-target with a long-range penalty attempt.

Although the visitors threatened through winger Ludovico Nitoglia, this contest seemed to be petering out until input from TMO Jude Quinn led to those three cards in quick succession.

Gopperth mopped up with the three points.

Belfast Telegraph


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