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Sexton drop-goal breaks Treviso hearts

Sat, 15 Sep 2012 20:50
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All the Saturday scores and scorers!
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Jonny Sexton's last-gasp drop-goal helped Leinster edge past Treviso 19-18 at the Stadio Monigo to move into the top half of the Pro12 table.

In other Saturday action Jordan Williams grabbed two tries but it was George North who did all the damage as Scarlets came from behind to seal a 24-11 victory over Connacht and move back to the top of the Pro12.

And Alex Cuthbert's second-half try proved the difference as the Cardiff Blues ended their Welsh hoodoo in the Pro12 with a hard-fought 16-5 win over the Dragons.

All the Saturday scores and scorers!

Connacht 11-24 Scarlets

Jordan Williams grabbed two tries but it was George North who did all the damage as Scarlets came from behind to seal a 24-11 victory over Connacht and move back to the top of the Pro12.

The 20-year-old Wales star was at his destructive best in the second half as the Scarlets, trailing 8-0 at half-time, ignored a blustering headwind to roar back and seal an impressive victory.

Behind by six points in the closing stages, Connacht refused to settle for a losing bonus point and, roared on by the home crowd, pushed for the converted try they needed, but their hopes were dashed when Jonathan Davies intercepted in the final minute and streaked clear.

After a scrappy start by both sides at a windswept Sportsground, it was Connacht who drew first blood - out-half Miah Nikora slotting home his first penalty of the afternoon on ten minutes, seven minutes after Rhys Priestland missed his first effort for the Scarlets.

That boosted the home side who embarked on a fine running move that swept from left to right and Connacht captain Gavin Duffy looked well-placed to grab the first try of the match, but wing Tiernan O'Halloran did him no favours with a wayward pass.

The Scarlets, league leaders going into round two of this season's Pro12, responded in feisty fashion and Nick Reynolds was making headway down the left after a burst from North which caused panic in the Connacht defence but the winger could not force his way through.

On the half hour mark, Scarlets flanker Josh Turnbull made a powerful burst through the middle but Connacht's Andrew Browne made a try-saving tackle to maintain the hosts' slender lead.

And as half-time approached, Connacht found themselves with possession in the opponent's half and they made it pay despite needing two attempts to score the try.

Some fine hands from Connacht's big forwards appeared to have put Eoin Griffin in on the left-hand side but the Scarlets held the centre just short but from the resulting scrum the ball was spread back over to the right, allowing Griffin to dot down in the corner.

Nikora's conversion attempt dropped short however, leaving Connacht to take an 8-0 lead into the half-time interval.
After the break the Scarlets came out firing and it was unsurprising that North was at the fore.

The Wales international powerhouse made all the running before finding 18-year-old full-back Williams who crossed the whitewash for his first Pro12 try before Priestland converted to trim Connacht's lead to just one.

On 47 minutes, Priestland missed a good chance to give Scarlets the lead but he also struggled with the wind and he pushed his effort wide despite having plenty of distance.

But the wave of Scarlets pressure was to tell just two minutes later - North steamrollering his way down the right wing to grab his fourth try of the season. Priestland was wayward with the conversion again however.

Connacht were shell-shocked and the Scarlets threatened to streak clear when the slippery Williams jinked his way over for his second try of the match on 52 minutes but the wind was playing havoc for Priestland.

He failed to add the extras and after weathering the storm, Kiwi Nikora finally scored Connacht's first points of the half on 62 minutes to take them to within a score of Scarlets, 17-11 down.

It looked a case of how many Scarlets would rack up but some stoic Connacht defence, and a few knock-ons when the visitors were well placed, meant they failed to add to their total.

And in the closing stages, the hosts threatened to steal an unlikely victory - a forward pass denying flying winger Fetu'u Vainikolo the chance to open his legs - but Scarlets had the final say as Davies eased over and Williams converted.

Scorers:

Connacht:
Try:
Griffin
Pens: Nikora 2

Scarlets:
Tries:
Davies, North, Williams 2
Cons: Priestland, Williams

Teams:

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (captain), 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fetu'u Vainikolo, 10 Miah Nikora, 9 Kieran Marmion,  8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White, 2 Ethienne Reynecke, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Dennis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 David Gannon, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Matthew Jarvis, 23 Robbie Henshaw.

Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies (captain), 12 Scott Williams, 11 Nick Reynolds 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 1 Phil John, 2 Matthew Rees, 3 Samson Lee, 4 Sione Timani, 5 Richard Kelly, 6 Josh Turnbull, 7 Johnathan Edwards, 8 Kieran Murphy.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Peter Edwards, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland, 43rd competition game)
Assistant Referees: John Lacey, John Carvill (both Ireland)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)

Benetton Treviso 18-19 Leinster

Jonny Sexton's last-gasp drop-goal helped Leinster edge past Treviso 19-18 at the Stadio Monigo to move into the top half of the Pro12 table.

Brian O'Driscoll, Sexton and Jamie Heaslip - skipper on the day - all started for the first time this season, as Leinster looked to follow up last week's thumping 45-25 success over the Dragons.

But when Fabio Semenzato crossed with a minute remaining, and Kris Burton converted to give Treviso the lead, it looked as though the internationals' return would be in vain.

However with time virtually up Sexton kept his nerve and fired the ball through the uprights to give Leinster the points.

In the first half it was the home side who looked the more threatening and Treviso took a deserved 8-3 lead into the break.

Joe Schmidt clearly wanted a reaction from his team and got it almost immediately as O'Driscoll crossed after just four minutes of the second half, and from there last season's Pro12 runners-up showed all their experience to keep the Italians at bay.

Treviso, who had started the season with a home success over reigning champions the Ospreys before losing at Munster last time out, got off the mark through fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo after a quarter of an hour.

Kevin McLaughlin was another of Leinster's international contingent in the starting line-up but when he was sent to the sin bin, Treviso took full advantage.

Although Di Bernardo missed a shot at goal, Azzurri back row Robert Barbieri crashed over for the first try of the game to extend the lead to 8-0.

On the half hour Sexton finally got Leinster on the board with a penalty and that was how it stayed until the break.

It was in the second half that Leinster showed their experience, with Ireland skipper O'Driscoll producing a trademark break from midfield to cross under the posts for his first try of the season.

Sexton converted to give the visitors the lead, and then extended that advantage with a penalty just before the hour mark.

Leinster were then dealt a blow as hooker Richardt Strauss had to be stretchered off, to be replaced by Sean Cronin.

Italy international Kris Burton was on the pitch by now and he kept his nerve on 66 minutes to reduce the Leinster lead to just two points.

However with five minutes remaining Sexton was again on target with a penalty to stretch the lead back to five points.

Replacement Semenzato then pounced with what looked like the winning try, converted by Burton, only for Sexton to break Italian hearts at the death.

Scorers:

Benetton Treviso:
Tries:
Barbieri, Semenzato, Burton
Pen: Bernardo

Leinster:
Try:
O'Driscoll
Con: Sexton
Pens: Sexton 3
DG: Sexton

Teams:

Benetton Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Edoardo Gori, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Corniel Van Zyl (captain), 4 Francesco Minto, 3 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Dean Budd, 21 Marco Filippucci, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Kristopher Burton.

Leinster: 15 Ian Madigan, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Fergus McFadden, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Damian Browne, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Isa Nacewa.

Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Carlo Damasco, Stefano Traversi (both Italy)
TMO: Stefano Marrama (Italy)

Newport Gwent Dragons 5-16 Cardiff Blues

Alex Cuthbert's second-half try proved the difference as the Cardiff Blues ended their Welsh hoodoo in the Pro12 with a hard-fought 16-5 win over the Dragons.

Coming into the clash the Dragons had won five of their last six matches against Welsh opposition at Rodney Parade while the Blues had won only one of their last 11 matches against the three other Welsh regions.

Steffan Jones' first-half try was the only score of the game for the home side while in addition to Cuthbert's try the impressive Rhys Patchell added a conversion and three penalties.

The other bright spot for the Blues was the return in the second half of Jamie Roberts after six months on the sidelines with a knee injury.

The opening stages were a story of misfiring boots as Patchell for the Blues and Jones and Tom Prydie for the Dragons all missed makeable penalties.

But the game came to life in the 25th minute when Blues full back Dan Evans looked in for the first try of the game but he was called back after the impressive Patchell's offload was adjudged to have gone marginally forward.

Still the scores were locked at 0-0 as four minutes later Jones' penalty attempt came back off the posts.

Both sides were having their chances and a fantastic counterattack from the Blues was only ended when Evans' chip over the top was slightly overhit.

But when the first score did eventually come it was Patchell who made up for his earlier miss by slotting home a penalty.

Having waited virtually the whole half for the first points the first try arrived almost immediately after as the Dragons broke through, fly-half Jones ghosting over to the right of the posts after stepping inside his man.

Shortly after the interval the Dragons looked like they had extended their lead with a pushover try but the Television Match Official ruled the replays inconclusive, though Blues prop Nathan Trevett was sent to the sin bin.

The Dragons were desperate to go for a pushover score from the subsequent five-metre scrum but the Blues held out and it was the home side who conceded the penalty in the end and the chance had passed.

And in the 48th minute despite a man advantage they were made to pay when Adam Jones' knock-on was collected by Evans and his quick offload set Wales international Alex Cuthbert in the clear to cross in the right-hand corner, Patchell adding the extras to make it 10-5.

The Cuthbert try also precipitated the introduction of Jamie Roberts for his first appearance since April after knee surgery.

But back came the Dragons and Prydie had the chance to reduce their arrears in the 62nd minute but his penalty from the right touchline drifted narrowly wide.

Chances were very much at a premium however as the game wore on and when Patchell fired over two penalties in the 76th and 78th minutes the match was lost for the Dragons.

Scorers:

Newport Gwent Dragons:
Try:
S Jones

Cardiff Blues:
Try:
Cuthbert
Con: Patchell
Pens: Patchell 3

Teams:

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Will Harries , 13 Pat Leach, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tom Prydie , 10 Steffan Jones; 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau,  7 Lewis Evans (captain), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Adam Jones, 4 Ian Nimmo, 3 Dan Way, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Tom Brown, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Ashley Smith, 23 Adam Hughes.

Cardiff Blues: 15 Thomas Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Andries Pretorius (captain), 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 James Down, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Nathan Trevett.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Jamie Roberts.

Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: James Jones, Wayne Davies (both Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

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