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Lucky Leinster draw in Italy

Leinster escaped with three points from their four tries and a 24-all draw at Benetton Treviso yesterday to go fifth in the PRO12 League.

The patience of coach Matt O'Connor would have been tested to the limit by a disjointed performance.

Leinster were also hit with the late withdrawal of Luke Fitzgerald with what was thought to be a minor problem, Brendan Macken drafted into the centre.

It all went to plan in the beginning as in-form wing Darragh Fanning burst over for his fourth try in six matches.

This was quickly wiped out when centre Sam Christie cut inside Jimmy Gopperth and wing Andrea Pratichetti broke Zane Kirchner's tackle for a try, converted by Jayden Hayward for 7-0 in the 14th minute.

It got worse before it got better. Poor control at the base of a scrum enabled scrum-half Alberto Luchesse to put flanker Dean Budd over for 12-5 in the 26th minute.

It was Fanning who got the Irish province going forward. Kirchner added yardage before number eight Jack Conan's power and pass found Dave Kearney for a try on his return from injury.

The home side's edge in the scrum and at the breakdown allied to their willingness to go quickly into the wide channels was troublesome, to say the least, as they led 12-10 at the break.

Replacement hooker Bryan Byrne - Richardt Strauss was forced off with an injury - showed his skills to block down Treviso fly-half Joe Carlisle and collect a try from 30 metres out for a tonic try with Gopperth's conversion taking them 17-12 clear.

The game was right back in the melting pot when the blockdown of Gopperth's exit cost Leinster seven points from flanker Marco Barbini's try and Hayward's extras in the 52nd minute.

The introduction of Isaac Boss and Dominic Ryan was made for impact. But, Treviso looked on the verge until Noel Reid shut down a long and varied attack.

It took the ingenuity and combined pace of wings Fanning and Mick McGrath to take Leinster into enemy territory where Gopperth went for the corner instead of a shot at the posts.


Byrne found Kane Douglas out of touch and the forwards rumbled on.

Gopperth got over the gain line. Ben Marshall hit it up. Boss had a dart. It was left to Fanning to pick up his second try and the bonus-point from no more than a metre out, Gopperth's conversion making it 24-19 in the 69th minute.

If Leinster thought they had turned a corner, they were made to think twice by centre Christie's miss-pass and hooker Davide Giazzon's finish into the corner.

Hayward should have kicked Treviso ahead only to pull his penalty across the posts.

There was still time for a winner. Leinster got into the right area of the field, Boss pulling the strings from the base.

Gopperth pulled the trigger for his drop goal to go right and wide.