RaboDirect Pro12: Leinster race to bonus-point win over Zebre in Parma
Last Updated: 10/02/14 8:04am
Leinster maintained pressure on RaboDirect Pro12 leaders Munster by racing to a 31-8 bonus-point victory over Zebre in Parma on Sunday.
Matt O'Connor's men moved to within three points of their rivals as they ran four tries passed Zebre, with John Cooney, Noel Reid, Zane Kirchner and Darren Hudson all touching down.
Leinster did not have it all their own way however as Shane Jennings was forced to make a last-ditch tackle to deny Kelly Haimona in the opening exchanges.
Moments later, an undeterred Zebre continued to press on and deservedly took the lead when Dries van Schalkwyk drove his way over from close range.
The Irishmen soon found their rhythm and found their first try seven minutes later.
Cooney came off the back of the scrum to split two defenders before Jimmy Gopperth added the conversion edge Leinster ahead.
A Gopperth penalty arrived on the cusp of half-time to give the visitors a 10-5 advantage.
Leinster resumed where they left off, with a second try straight after the restart. Reid racing clear, leaving Gopperth with a simple conversion under the posts.
Zebre responded with a penalty from Kelly Haimona, but three-point contributions were not good enough and Kirchner showed them how it should be done as he crashed on to an offload for a try, with substitute Ian Madigan converting.
A fourth try then rounded things off with Hudson sidestepping over the line with seconds remaining, with Madigan again on the spot with the two points.
Leinster have the opportunity to temporarily take top spot on Friday when they host mid-table Newport Gwent Dragons, with Munster facing Zebre on Saturday evening.