Given the strength of the starting line-up, it was hard to expect anything less than Leinster winning bonus points in their first home game at BTK United Rugby.
From the moment Dan Sheehan arrived from the rear of the knockout in six minutes, he had no doubt whatsoever, as they edged out Benetton 42-10.
Sheehan scored 10 attempts last season, and is already nearly halfway to that total, after a superb display of four attempts, three of which came from dominant rolling strokes.
The 24-year-old has averaged an impressive try-out in the Leinster colors, netting four goals tonight that took him to the county’s 20 in just 30 games.
And while his attempts made headlines, he was going to face stiff competition for the man of the match.
Monster fans can be forgiven if they get their way during a match, and that was the effect of it Jason Jenkins [below]. South Africa’s only season lock down in Limerick was injured and his performances tonight highlighted the real reason Johan van Graan made the move to Ireland last year.
Stolen streaks, solid load bearing, heavy tackles, and the engine that saw him appear on players’ shoulders in space, Springbok was all over the place on his home debut.
All eyes were on Kieran Frawley as he started a rare match for Leinster in the first half, and the versatile midfielder looked comfortable in the role, aided by the excellent Robbie Henshaw, who entered into his first reception after several set-pieces.
Frawley’s night ended early 44 minutes, as he patted his shoulder in the first half causing him to withdraw early in the second half as a precaution, while it was also worrisome that Kellan Doris exited the match early due to Hamad International Airport, which is no longer more than it.
Leading 21-3 in the first half, Josh van der Vlaer, Sheehan and Luke McGrath added more points to finish the bonus point, showing no signs of upset a week after Speculation surrounding top coach Stuart Lancasterwho is reportedly leaving to join Racing 92 this summer.
Leinster tested Benetton’s backcourt with some Jimmy O’Brien’s motivating kicks in the early stages, and it was the game of kicks that led them to score in the opening score within six minutes.
This time it was Henshaw who took a cross kick toward an open corner, as Caelan Doris chased after it. It was a fine score for the No. 8, and although Benetton’s defense was quick to cover, Italian winger Mattia Bellini was judged to tackle Dave Kearney early, awarding Leinster a penalty a few meters away, and drawing a yellow card from the referee. Jack Bieber.
Within seconds, Leinster made it important. Sheehan found Ross Moloney in the line, and it was a bitch who landed on the line after a dominating attack, the first of three first-half attempts for the Ireland international. With his first shot from a tee, Frawley split the posts to make it 7-0.
The landlords were unable to increase their lead in the remainder of the Sin period, but they made their second attempt just as the Italians turned back 15 men.
Once again, they took a penalty kick to 22, and Sheehan [above] She pounced to score, but it was a much different process. Coming off the top of the line, big swatches of Henshaw, Jenkins and Molony sent them near the posts, before the prolific bitch picks up and dives over the line, giving Frawley the simplest turnaround to make it 14-0.
Benetton cut back the lead with a penalty kick to Giacomo da Re, but by the 29th minute, Leinster and Sheehan had their third. It was frustratingly familiar to the visitors, as Leinster hit Moloney at the finish line, before sprinting forward as he pleased, Sheehan’s head covered in the rubble to rule out a hat-trick, and Frawley turned again to extend the difference to 21.-3.
They had to wait until the second half to finish the bonus point, Van der Flier dived into the corner to seal it. Ross Byrne – Who Replaced strawberry [above] At 44 minutes – he made the score, his late pass to absorb Scott Scrafton from Benetton and create the interference, before running into Larmor’s hands to send Van der Vlaer to score. It was Byrne who converted the touchline, giving Leinster a comfortable 28-3 lead.
At 53 minutes, Sheehan capped his fourth night, fifth for Leicester, and once again rolled the blow over the line. It was his last act of the evening, and while Benetton was happy to see his back, the sight of Ronan Keeler entering the game would have ended that quickly.
Despite the attempts, it was the entry of Sian Healey that attracted the loudest cheers of the night. The 34-year-old’s arrival was the county’s 250th, ahead of Gordon Darcy (257) and Devin Toner (280) on the all-time county list.
The Benetton scrum-half Manfredi Albanese finally gave the Italians a positive moment when he ran to try just under an hour, after Leinster’s defense went to sleep on the blind side of luck, leaving Da Rey the score. 10-35.
Leinster thought they were on try number six when Luke McGrath showed up Gary Rangerose [above] to score in the 62nd minute, but after a check with TMO, he was eliminated, after McGrath was fouled by a supernatural interference from prostitute Gianmarco Lucchesi.
If McGrath felt any guilt over throwing his campaign too late, he made up for it soon after, breaking from the back of the second hit at 22 to throw himself on the scoresheet, as Bayern turned again, recovering 32 points. Leads at 42-10.
Leinster: Jimmy O’Brien; Jordan Larmore, Gary Ringrose (captain), Robbie Henshaw, Dave Kearney; Ciaran Frawley, Luke McGrath; Andrew Porter, Dan Sheehan, Michael Alalalatoa; Ross Moloney and Jason Jenkins; Ryan Bird, Josh van der Veller, Kylan Doris
Alternatives: Ronan Keeler, Ed Byrne, Sian Healy, Joe McCarthy, Will Connors, Cormac Foley, Ross Byrne, Charlie Ngatay
Benetton: Ignacio Mendy, Mattia Bellini, Jacoin Riera, Marco Zanon, Onisi Rataf; Giacomo da Re, Sam Hidalgo Klein; Evan Nemer, Giacomo Nicoretta, Simon Ferrari; Niccolo Cannon, Scott Scrafton; Giovanni Bettinelli, Michele Lamaro (Captain), Just Alive
Alternatives: Gianmarco Luccese, Federico Zani, Filippo Alungi, Karl Wegener, Henry Time Stores, Manfredi Albanese, Tommaso Menoncello, Ratova Tavoira
Rule: Jacko Pepper (SARU)