GARRY Ringrose helped himself to a hat-trick in Leinster Rugby’s five-try 33-19 Heineken Champions Cup win over Benetton Rugby at the RDS Arena.
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 Johnny 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 68th-minute tackle to notch his first career hat-trick, before Luca Sperandio claimed a late consolation score.
For Leinster coach Leo Cullen, he was well aware it was far from a flawless performance, but that is to be expected given this was the first appearance of the season for many of the World Cup players.
“Off the back of what those guys have been through, it’s like starting their season all over again,” he said after the victory. “It’s round one for us as an entire squad and we do have a couple more guys still to appear. Overall, we are pleased. We knew it wouldn’t be perfect; it was far from it but we got the job done.”
His side will now travel to Lyon to try and back up the result. It is a similar schedule to last season when Leinster won their first group game before losing in France at Toulouse.
“Can we be better than this time last year? That’s the kind of question we ask ourselves. That’s the challenge because we are not fully up and running with this group yet.
“There was good intent from the players. We started the game well and knew Treviso would give us a good physical challenge and they did it well. Our guys fought back well and took our chances late on in the first half. We had a decent lead and Jonny scored that brilliant try early in the second half.
“Maybe we thought the job was done at that stage with the four tries, but we knew Treviso would come back – we have seen it on numerous occasions.
“So, you have to give them a lot of credit for the way they fight on in games and they made life very difficult for us.
“Overall, we got the win, the bonus point and we move on to a totally different challenge next week against Lyon.”