Leinster secured a 22-6 victory over a dogged Aironi on Friday night after five penalties from Ian Madigan and a late try from Noel Reid.
Aironi had won two of their previous three home matches in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 and only narrowly lost to Newport Gwent Dragons last week. The Italian side continued their good recent run of form with an impressive showing against the Heineken Cup champions and only three points separated the teams with 12 minutes to play.
Leinster started relatively well and took the lead through an Ian Madigan penalty in the fifth minute. Aironi out-half Naas Olivier had the chance to respond three minutes later but he kicked his penalty opportunity wide.
Leinster were the more creative side in the first half, but good Aironi defending and inopportune handling errors cost the Irish team.
Leinster almost opened the try count in the 11th minute, but Aironi stopped a forward drive on their own try line. A dodgy moment ensued as scrum half Tito Tebaldi almost intercepted a Leinster pass when he would have had a free run in space.
Ian Madigan had the chance to double Leinster’s lead two minutes later but he shot wide from a decent position.
Aironi slowly improved and imposed themselves on the match as the half progressed. The Italian team forced important turnovers in their own half, while Tebaldi almost got over the Leinster try line after a great line-break.
Leinster’s best attacking moment came from Fionn Carr, who made a great run through the Aironi defense. His pass to the returning Luke Fitzgerald was knocked on, however.
It was left to Ian Madigan to add two penalties to give Leinster a 9-0 lead at the interval, although Madigan’s second effort was mishit and went over off the post.
Aironi were much improved after half-time and looked more likely to score the first try of the match. Naas Olivier scored penalties in the 45th and 60th minutes to reduce the deficit to three points, while the Italian side wasted a glorious try opportunity in the 57th minute.
Aironi worked the ball into the Leinster 22 before passing out to the left-hand side of the pitch. An Aironi player was left unmarked on the wing, but Roberto Quartaroli held on to the ball too long and was tackled.
Ian Madigan reestablished Leinster’s nine point advantage with two penalties in the 68th and 72nd minute and ended the match as a contest. Gilberto Pavan was also sinbinned for a dangerous high tackle.
A late Noel Reid try widened the margin of victory in the 75th minute. The substitute intercepted an Aironi pass in the Leinster half and ran over half the field and under the posts uncontested. Madigan added the conversion to give Leinster a 22-6 victory.
Leinster are now 15 points ahead of second place Ospreys in the Rabo Direct Pro12.