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Garry runs rings around Benetton as Leinster triumph

Ireland's Gary Ringrose turned it on for Leinster (Photo by Stu Forster / Getty Images )

Returning centre Garry Ringrose helped himself to a hat-trick in Leinster’s five-try 33-19 Heineken Champions Cup win over Benetton at the RDS.

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The Ireland star touched down twice inside the first 14 minutes, sandwiching a Dean Budd effort, and Ronan Kelleher marked his European debut with a try on the half-hour mark as last season’s runners-up opened up a 19-7 interval lead.

A crowd of 15,080 watched Leinster captain Jonathan Sexton convert his own bonus-point try but Hame Faiva hit back to keep the pressure on. Man-of-the-match Ringrose cut inside a tired 68th-minute tackle to notch his first career hat-trick before Luca Sperandio claimed a late consolation score.

The Leinster pack pressed from an early lineout maul before quick hands released Ringrose – one of the Irish province’s latest returning Rugby World Cup players – to crash over near the left corner for a fourth-minute unconverted try.

The ambitious Italians edged 7-5 ahead on the back on their own lineout platform. Lock Budd did really well to twist out of an Andrew Porter tackle and score under a pile of bodies. Ian Keatley converted to the left of the posts.

(Continue reading below…)

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After Rhys Ruddock had gone close from a Sexton Garryowen, a big Devin Toner carry teed up Ringrose to step inside a defender and finish strongly from close range. Sexton split the posts with the conversion. Benetton turned down a second kickable penalty but Toner stole the subsequent lineout. Caolan Doris’ first European start was cut short by a head injury before a Luke McGrath break had Leinster back on the prowl.

Profiting from Nicola Quaglio’s yellow card for a high tackle on Kelleher, the hosts’ in-form hooker picked from a ruck, feigned a pass to Josh Van Der Flier and powered over for his seventh try of the season. Sexton’s conversion made it a 12-point advantage.

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Keatley dropped a long-range penalty shortly before half-time, and his opposite number Sexton swooped for an early second-half score, breaking free from a tackle on halfway and receiving a return pass from Van Der Flier to run in behind the posts.

The Treviso outfit’s robust maul was the launchpad for hooker Faiva to evade Ruddock and close the gap back to a dozen points. Angelo Esposito increased his threat on the wing, although his costly knock-on ruined some promising build-up play from his pack.

Benetton were left to rue those individual errors as Leinster, storming forward following some dogged defensive sets, had another tidy finish from Ringrose off a Ross Byrne pass. Nonetheless, the visitors had the final say when Jayden Hayward put winger Sperandio over in the corner.

WATCH: RugbyPass Rugby Explorer takes a trek through Italian rugby, stopping off at Benetton after visiting Rome 

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J
Jon 32 minutes ago
How Maro Itoje terrorised the All Blacks lineout

Yeah England were much smarter, they put their much vaster experience to use in both the scrum (bending/not taking hit) and lineout (Itoje early sacks) law vagaries. Really though, I know what is there, I’m more worried about Englands locks. We only got to see Itoje and Martin, right? Depth allround in the England camp was probably the difference in the series and the drop off when Itoje reached his minutes limit for the season (it was like the plug was pulled from the charger) was up there with keeping Sexton on the park in that quarter final. What happened there? You have a lot of watching hours experience with locks come blindsides Nick, especially with a typical Australian player make up, have you see a six the size of Barrett absolutely dominate the position and his opposition? I can easily see Scott, and even Martin for that matter, moving to the blindside and playing like Tadgh Beirne with the amount of top locks we have coming through to partner Patrick. Still with the English mindset, because despite running the best All Black team I’ve seen in a long time close, they do need to find improvement, and although I thought they had a lot of good performances from their 7’s (over the years), I really like the prospect of Cunningham-South in his 8 spot and Earl on the open. Can you see Martin as mobile enough to take over Lawes? I absolutely loved his aggression when Jordie ran upto him to try and grab the ball. That alone is enough reason for me to try him there.

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