Nacewa leads Leinster rout
Schmidt salutes 20-point star after Treviso win
ISA NACEWA is worth his weight in gold for Leinster and, like that precious commodity, he gets more valuable with each passing week.
The Fijian international is the one who does most to steady the ship when Ireland's frontline stars are on international duty. He turned in another five-star show to provide 20 points in Leinster's 42-8 bonus-point defeat of Benetton Treviso in the Rabodirect PRO12 League at the RDS last night.
"Isa orchestrated things from the back. I thought he did okay. He's not bad," offered coach Joe Schmidt, with a smile breaking across his face.
Schmidt was understandably "delighted to get the result" to stretch the lead at the top of the table to 14 points from the Ospreys and Glasgow Warriors, who beat the Scarlets 19-9 at Firhill in the only other league match last night.
"You've got to temper any excitement with the opposition. They were very short on personnel and training time. It is very cold where they are," said Schmidt.
Fly-half Ian Madigan gave further proof of his poacher's instinct by knifing between defenders for his seventh try in 15 matches this season - a remarkable return.
Full-back Nacewa's second penalty on the half hour moved Leinster out to a two-score lead at 11-3 following a sustained piece of multi-phase play from the home side.
Luckily, Nacewa was on the money again into the new half, before loosehead prop Matteo Muccignat took advantage of poor defensive work by prop Nathan White to temporarily make a match of it.
This prompted the introduction of reinforcements in the form of Rhys Ruddock at number eight and tighthead Jamie Hagan.
Ruddock made an immediate impression, coming hard and fast onto the ball. Hooker Richardt Strauss repeated this feat to find a soft inside shoulder and the whitewash. Nacewa converted.
A give and take between Nacewa and replacement Dave Kearney, just returned from Ireland duty, concluded with Nacewa sliding in at the left corner.
The bonus point was suddenly a target. It was soon banked by Nacewa's understanding of space and the support line from try-scorer John Cooney, just on for Isaac Boss.
Wing Fionn Carr ended the entertainment by cutting inside the last defender for Madigan to kick the touchline conversion with Nacewa safely tucked away on the bench.