Leinster stretched their lead at the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table to 14 points after surging past Benetton Treviso at the RDS…
Ian Madigan crossed for his sixth try of the campaign at the midpoint of the first half, helping the province on their way to an 11-3 advantage at the break.
Matteo Muccignat’s opportunist try saw the Italians draw closer, but Leinster blitzed them when scoring four tries in the final quarter to secure the bonus point.
Man-of-the-match Isa Nacewa grabbed one of them and took his place-kicking tally to 15 points, while Richardt Strauss, John Cooney and Fionn Carr also touched down.
With the wet and windy conditions making handling difficult, the bonus point had looked out of reach for Joe Schmidt’s much-changed side.
Treviso were missing 15 of their internationals due to Six Nations commitments and put their faith in a bulky pack which provided a decent set piece platform.
The hosts, despite missing a plethora of frontline players, looked cohesive right from the off and Nacewa swung over a terrific opening penalty in the fifth minute.
Nacewa and the ever spritely Brendan Williams both got a chance to stretch their legs early on, the former being hauled down by Benjamin de Jager as he looked to put Brendan Macken away.
Playing into the wind, Treviso levelled the game in the 19th minute with Alberto di Bernardo’s ugly drop goal which just squeezed over from the 22.
But Leinster were back in front just three minutes later, the quick feet of Madigan allowing him scoot away from two defenders and dive over in the right corner.
Nacewa missed the conversion and had to be on his toes to deny de Jager after a clever kick through from Williams.
Treviso continued to press, another solid scrum from the visitors winning a long range penalty which di Bernardo missed to the right.
Building through the phases, Leinster made good ground through Macken and Leo Auva’a before Nacewa converted his second successful penalty from the left.
Macken found a hole in the Treviso defence as half-time approached, but Franco Smith’s men rescued the situation and ended the half in Leinster territory.
Crucial interventions from Shane Jennings and Carr helped Leinster keep their try-line intact, early in the second period.
A missed penalty from di Bernardo kept the margin at eight points. However, after Nacewa landed his third penalty, Treviso struck for a try which their efforts merited.
A well-timed 55th-minute pass from Pedro di Santo sent fellow prop Muccignat over in the right corner with di Bernardo narrowly missing the conversion.
Leinster had a game on their hands at 14-8, but they purred to victory with a typically swashbuckling run of scores. It started off with Isaac Boss passing for Strauss to barrel over from close range.
Nacewa added the extras. Shortly afterwards, the full-back linked with David Kearney before taking a return pass to cross out wide for another seven-pointer.
As Treviso tired, Leinster pushed for a fourth try and it arrived in the 71st minute as Nacewa made the break and drew the cover to send replacement scrum half Cooney over from just outside the 22.
Carr, who threatened throughout with ball in hand, was rewarded in the final minute when he gobbled up a Madigan kick and beat the covering defender for try number five.
The winger’s try and an excellent conversion from Madigan rounded off a satisfying night’s work for Schmidt’s table-topping charges.
Debutant Colm O’Shea acquitted himself well alongside Macken in the centre, and young replacements Mark Flanagan, Jack McGrath and Tom Sexton added energy up front in the closing stages.
LEINSTER SCORERS: I. Nacewa (1 try, 3 conversions and 3 penalties). I. Madigan (1 try and 1 conversion), R. Strauss (1 try), J. Cooney (1 try), F. Carr (1 try)
BENETTON TREVISO SCORERS: M. Muccignat (1 try), A. di Bernardo (1 drop goal)
15: Isa Nacewa (Fionn Carr, 75)
14: Darren Hudson
13: Brendan Macken
12: Colm O’Shea (Noel Reid, 68)
11: Fionn Carr (David Kearney, 64)
10: Ian Madigan
9: Isaac Boss (John Cooney, 70)
1: Heinke van der Merwe (Jack McGrath, 65)
2: Richardt Strauss (Tom Sexton, 70)
3: Nathan White (Jamie Hagan, 56)
4: Damian Browne (Mark Flanagan, 65)
5: Devin Toner
6: Kevin McLaughlin CAPTAIN
7: Shane Jennings
8: Leo Auva’a (Rhys Ruddock, 56)
BENETTON TREVISO: L Nitoglia; B de Jager, E Galon, A Pratichetti, B Williams; A di Bernardo, A Chillon; M Muccignat, E Ceccato, I Fernandez Rouyet, F Minto, V Bernabò CAPTAIN, G Padrò, B Vermaak, M Filippucci.
REPLACEMENTS: D Vidal, C Fazzari, P di Santo, M Fuser, E Pavanello, S Picone, G Garcia, T Iannone.
REFEREE: Leighton Hodges (WRU), ASSISTANT REFEREES: Mark Patton, Richard Kerr (both IRFU), 4th OFFICIAL: Kevin Beggs (Leinster Rugby Referees), 5th OFFICIAL: Helen O’Reilly (Leinster Rugby Referees), TMO: Alan Rogan (IRFU).