United Rugby Championship: Leinster 42-10 Benetton

Dan Sheehan and Mattia Bellini challenge for the ball at the RDS
Dan Sheehan and Mattia Bellini challenge for the ball at the RDS
Leinster (21) 42
Tries: Sheehan 4, van der Flier, McGrath Cons: Frawley 4, Byrne 2
Benetton (3) 10
Tries: Albanian Cons: Da Re Pens: Da Re

Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan scored four tries as Leinster comprehensively saw off Benetton 42-10 in the United Rugby Championship match at the RDS.

Sheehan scored a 28-minute hat-trick to give the hosts a 21-3 half-time lead.

Replacement Manfredi Albanese crossed for the visitors but Leinster added further scores through Josh van der Flier, Sheehan and Luke McGrath.

Sheehan is the eighth player, and the first from Leinster, to score four tries in a URC match.

The last one to do so was Marcell Coetzee for Ulster against Zebre in November 2020.

News of Stuart Lancaster’s possible departure to Racing 92 at the end of the season – French reports suggest a four-year contract for the Leinster senior coach to move to Paris is a done deal – dominated the build-up to this game.

Joaquin Riera’s break signaled a bright start for Benetton, but Leinster seized a sixth-minute lead when forward Sheehan, one of 12 Ireland players returning after the successful tour of New Zealand, was driven over from a well-executed line-out maul.

Benetton winger Mattia Bellini was sin-binned just before that, for a pull-back on Dave Kearney near the visitors’ line, and Ciaran Frawley converted Sheehan’s try for a 7-0 lead.

Replacement Henry Time-Stowers lifted the Italians with a turnover penalty, but some aggressive carrying off a line-out preceded Sheehan’s second converted score in the 16th minute.

Benetton fly-half Giacomo da Re replied with a penalty but, despite Samoan Time-Stowers foiling one Leinster maul, the hosts increased their lead when a subsequent drive propelled Sheehan over for his hat-trick.

Leinster moved further ahead within six minutes of the restart when flanker Van der Flier was released for the right corner and replacement Ross Byrne converted.

The home side took a familiar route to the whitewash in the 52nd minute, Sheehan charging over from another maul with Byrne’s boot making it 35-3.

Recent Italian debutant Albanese sniped over from a ruck in response, before Leinster captain Garry Ringrose had a try disallowed for McGrath being in touch.

However, the Leinster scrum-half managed to have the final say in the 71st minute, using the maul platform to finish smartly with Byrne converting again.

Leinster: J O’Brien; Larmour, Ringrose, Henshaw, Kearney; Frawley, McGrath; Porter, Sheehan, Crossroads; Jenkins, J Ryan; Baird, van der Flier, Doris.

Replacements: Kelleher, E Byrne, Healy, Molony, Conners, Foley, R Byrne, Ngatai.

Benetton Treviso: Mendy; Bellini, Riera, Zanon, Ratave; Da Re, Hidalgo-Clyne; Nemer, Nicotera, Ferrari; N Cannone, Scrafton; Pettinelli, Lamaro, Halafihi.

Replacements: Lucchesi, Zani, Alongi, Wegner, Stowers, Albanese, Menoncello, Tavuyara.

Referee: Jaco Peyper (SARU)

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