Pienaar scores again for Ulster
Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, playing at flyhalf for Ulster, led the Irish province to a 45-20 Pro12 victory.
Springbok scrumhalf Ruan Pienaar, playing at flyhalf for Ulster, led the Irish province to a 45-20 Pro12 victory over Edinburgh at Ravenhill on Friday.
It extending their winning run to seven league matches.
In other Friday action Casey Laulala returned to haunt his former club, as his last-gasp try got Munster out of jail and compounded Cardiff Blues' misery.
His exploits handed the visitors a 24-18 victory in the Pro12 competition.
And in the final match of the day Tommy Seymour crossed twice to make it four tries in two games as Glasgow Warriors sealed a record-equalling sixth straight Pro12 victory with a 37-6 bonus-point win over Newport Gwent Dragons.
We look at all the Friday matches!
CARDIFF BLUES 18-24 MUNSTER
Casey Laulala returned to haunt his former club as his last-gasp try got Munster out of jail and compounded Cardiff Blues' misery.
His exploits handed the visitors a 24-18 victory in the Pro12.
An opportunist try from scrumhalf Lewis Jones had appeared to lift the gloom at the Arms Park, giving them an 18-17 lead they held until the 78th minute, but some suspect defending from the hosts opened the door for Munster.
In an error-strewn match it was Jones who pounced on the loose ball after Lou Reed had charged down Peter Stringer's kick, leaving the Blues clinging on in a nervy final 15 minutes - and they couldn't quite make it over the line, meaning they have now lost their last six matches in all competitions.
The Blues started the brighter and it was they who took the lead on eight minutes when Munster prop Stephen Archer was pinged for being offside.
Cardiff flyhalf Jason Tovey made no mistake from the tee to break the deadlock but that stirred Munster into life and with their first attack on 12 minutes, they made their possession pay.
An impressive break saw Ronan O'Gara burst into space and as the ball spread to the right and then to the left, ex-Blues centre Laulala found Ian Keatley, who in turn found No.8 Tommy O'Donnell who cruised over.
O'Gara added the easiest of conversions but was sent to the sin bin just three minutes later for a professional foul after the impressive Robin Copeland had burst down the left.
The Blues failed to make the extra man count - although they came mighty close on 24 minutes when Dan Fish did excellently to collect a kick forward and while his pass went to ground, Gavin Evans also did well to pick the ball up, only for Tom Williams to fumble his wayward pass with the try-line beckoning.
And it was Munster, restored to 15 men, who struck the next blow, O'Gara slotting a penalty from straight in front of the posts on the half-hour mark to give the visitors a 10-3 lead at the break.
Ceri Sweeney was brought on to replace Tovey just four minutes after the break - and the move paid dividends almost immediately as the Blues got themselves back on level terms.
Following a scrum deep into Munster territory on the right, the ball found Sweeney, whose short, flat pass perfectly fed the on-rushing Dafydd Hewitt and the centre burst the visitors' line to score - Sweeney adding the extras himself.
And the Blues moved ahead on 59 minutes when some superb team pressure brought the error form Munster, handing Sweeney the chance to add three points from the tee.
But the Blues' suspect defensive reared its head again, just a minute later, as O'Donnell scythed his way through the heart of the Cardiff back line to dive under the posts - O'Gara again adding the extras to give Munster a 17-13 lead.
The Blues refused to lie down however, and when Reed charged down replacement scrum-half Stringer's kick, Jones kicked ahead and dived on the ball to give the hosts the lead, Sweeney narrowly missing the conversion.
And it nearly got even better for the Blues on 69 minutes, only for second row James Down to drop the ball when well-placed in the corner, ensuring the hosts' lead stayed at one.
A nervous final 15 minutes ensued and when O'Gara booted Munster down with three minutes to go, the lineout that followed saw Laulala burst through Tom James' poor tackle and over the line, giving Munster the win.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Hewitt, Jones
Pens: Sweeney, Tovey
Tries: Laulala, O'Donnell 2
Cons: O'Gara 3
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Tom James, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Andries Pretorius (captain), 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Robin Copeland, 5 James Down, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Rhys Williams, 1 Campese Ma'afu.
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Ryan Harford, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Rob Lewis, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Owen Williams.
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett (captain), 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Ian Keatley, 11 Luke O'Dea, 10 Ronan O'Gara, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Tommy O'Donnell, 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Marcus Horan.
Replacements: 16 Damian Varley, 17 John Ryan, 18 Wian du Preez, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Patrick Butler, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Danny Barnes, 23 Johne Murphy.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies, Martyn Lewis (both Wales)
TMO: Paul Adams (Wales)
ULSTER 45-20 EDINBURGH
Ruan Pienaar, playing at flyhalf for Ulster, led the Irish province to a 45-20 Pro12 victory over Edinburgh at Ravenhill, extending their winning run to seven league matches.
The South African kicked six conversions as well as scoring a try himself, with Jared Payne going over twice, Roger Wilson and Craig Gilroy scoring one apiece.
Edinburgh began well and late Ulster tries added gloss to the scoreline, Tom Brown scoring two tries for the visitors and Gregor Hunter kicking ten points.
Ulster went into the game unbeaten in eight matches across all competitions, while Edinburgh were hoping to end a run of six consecutive defeats with Ulster losing 12 men to the international break.
Edinburgh began well, applying early pressure, Lee Jones making a darting run through the home defence although he was held up well.
But the pressure told in the 11th minute, Edinburgh playing the ball down the left, where 22-year-old Brown touched down for an early lead, Hunter adding the extras.
Ulster pegged the visitors back immediately though, Niall O'Connor - an early blood replacement for Pienaar - kicking a penalty with Edinburgh penalised for not staying on their feet.
James King was unlucky not to find a way through following his surging run for the visitors, but Ulster were penalised for offside and Hunter extended the visitors' lead.
In a pulsating first-half, Wilson stole a line-out and launched an attack, which eventually saw Payne's kicked through-ball well intercepted by Jones.
Ulster were awarded a penalty try in the 29th minute after a powerful scrum though, Pienaar kicking the conversion to level the scores.
And the hosts scored again immediately from the restart, Paul Marshall catching the ball before laying off to Pienaar who played in Gilroy, who in turn laid off for Payne's try, Pienaar kicking the conversion.
Pienaar continued to show his worth, blocking Hunter's clearance before running clear to score, adding the extras as the hosts established a foothold.
But in a see-sawing encounter Edinburgh responded perfectly after a mad five minutes, Hunter with an inside pass to Brown who touched down, Hunter kicking the extras to make it 24-17 at the break.
Just two minutes after the restart Hunter kicked Edinburgh to within four points of Ulster after the hosts were penalised for not releasing the ball.
Ulster's scrum game began to dominate in the second half but the Edinburgh defence held firm as Marshall and Pienaar increasingly controlled play.
And from a quick restart Marshall ran at the Edinburgh defence, and although he was tackled the ball was recycled to Wilson who touched down for Ulster's bonus point try, Pienaar adding the extras.
After 68 minutes Ulster took advantage of a scrum deep in Edinburgh's half, O'Connor offloading to Payne who went over, Pienaar again converting.
And in the final minute Gilroy touched down, Pienaar's conversion striking the post on its way through as Ulster cantered to a victory which sees them remain top of the Pro12 table.
Tries: Payne 2, Gilroy, Pienaar, Wilson, Penalty try
Cons: Pienaar 6
Tries: Brown 2
Cons: Hunter 2
Pens: Hunter 2
Ulster: 15 Ricky Andrew, 14 Chris Cochrane, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Mike McComish, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Neil McComb, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 John Afoa, 2 Nigel Brady (captain), 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Ricky Lutton, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Peter Nelson.
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 John Houston, 12 James King, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Sean Cox (captain), 5 Robert McAlpine, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Izak van der Westhuizen, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Richie Rees, 22 Dougie Fife, 23 Sep Visser.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, Brian MacNeice (both Ireland)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)
GLASGOW WARRIORS 37-6 NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
Tommy Seymour crossed twice to make it four tries in two games as Glasgow Warriors sealed a record-equalling sixth straight Pro12 victory with a 37-6 bonus-point win over Newport Gwent Dragons.
First-half tries from Peter Murchie and Gordon Reid put the Warriors in charge but two Tom Prydie penalties kept the Dragons clinging on with the scores 20-6 at the interval.
Tom Ryder touched down soon after the restart to extend the Warriors' lead and man of the match Niko Matawalu set up Seymour to go over in the corner for the bonus point just past the hour.
A successful chip and chase gave Seymour his second try with Scott Wight converting for a 37-6 lead, taking his personal haul to 12 points for the night with three conversions and two penalties, condemning the Dragons to a third defeat on the bounce.
The Dragons retained possession early on but the Warriors won a penalty at the breakdown with Wight landing it from near the halfway line to open the scoring after five minutes.
Murchie soon went over for the first try of the match with the ball hacked through and the 26-year-old sharpest to react, Wight adding the extras to give the Warriors a 10-0 lead after a quarter of an hour at Scotstoun.
With only 17 minutes gone the Dragons were forced into two changes, captain Lewis Evans going off for Jevon Groves while Adam Jones came on for Robert Sidoli.
A high tackle gave the visitors a chance to reduce the deficit after 24 minutes but Lewis Robling's penalty from the halfway line slid wide of the posts.
It got worse for the Dragons just before the half-hour mark when Warriors loosehead Reid picked up and went from the base of the ruck from outside the 22 to burst through under the posts, with Wight converting for 17-0.
However the Dragons finally got off the mark in the 31st minute with Prydie landing an easy penalty for offside at the breakdown just outside the 22.
Three minutes later though Wight added to his tally with another penalty after the Dragons had been pulled up for a scrum infringement to restore the Warriors' 17-point lead.
Darren Edwards was forced into a third first-half change with Phil Price going off for Nathan Williams four minutes before the break, but another Prydie penalty in front of the posts reduced the arrears to 20-6 at half time.
Straight after the break the Warriors' pack began to pile on the pressure inside the Dragons' 22 and Ryder pounced as his side piled over the line for the hosts' third try three minutes into the second period, though Wight missed his conversion this time to leave the scores 25-6.
The Warriors sealed the bonus point in the 62nd minute when Matawalu tapped a free-kick before stepping outside his man and popping the ball to Seymour who crossed in the corner, though Wight missed his conversion again.
Six minutes later Seymour touched down again, chipping the ball which bounced kindly back into his arms, and this time Wight added the extras for 37-6.
Tim Swinson was sin-binned with nine minutes to go but the Dragons failed to reduce the deficit.
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Murchie, Seymour 2, Ryder, Reid
Cons: Wight 3
Pens: Wight 2
For Newport Gwent Dragons:
Pens: Prydie 2
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Troy Nathan, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Scott Wight, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro (captain), 6 Rob Harley, 5 Tim Swinson, 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Finlay Gillies, 17 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 18 German Araoz, 19 James Eddie, 20 John Barclay, 21 Ryan Wilson, 22 Sean Kennedy, 23 Peter Horne.
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Lewis Robling, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Jevon Groves, 6 Tom Brown, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Steve Jones (captain), 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Dan Way, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Pat Leach.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Neil Paterson, David Changleng (both Scotland)