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Ulster ride their luck to extend streak

Fri, 23 Nov 2012 22:37
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Dragons end miserable run
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Ulster got out of jail for the second weekend in a row in Italy, as they edged a 16-15 win against Treviso that keeps their unbeaten start to the Pro12 season alive.

In other action on Friday Edinburgh got back to winning ways with a 23-13 success over the Ospreys at Murrayfield thanks to some great kicking from Gregor Hunter.

Tom Prydie's trusty boot kicked Newport Gwent Dragons to a 14-3 victory in the Pro12 and brought their miserable run of seven defeats in a row in all competitions to an end.

Two penalties from Ian Madigan were enough for Leinster to edge past Glasgow Warriors 6-0 at a soaked Scotstoun.

We look at Friday's matches!

Benetton Treviso 15-16 Ulster

Ulster got out of jail for the second weekend in a row in Italy as they edged a 16-15 win against Treviso that keeps their unbeaten start to the Pro12 season alive.

Mark Anscombe's troops have now played nine won nine in the league but they rode their luck at the Stadio Monigo on a misty Friday.

Peter Nelson's first-half try on his first start for the club proved vital with Niall O'Connor adding three penalties but Treviso fly-half Alberto Di Bernardo will have mares about his last-gasp penalty that he pulled wide with the Italians on the verge of a famous victory.

Last weekend against Zebre Ulster needed a late penalty try to win and they were somewhat fortunate here as well as the Italians slipped to their fifth consecutive defeat in all competitions despite scoring two tries through Brendan Williams and Ludovico Nitoglia.

Ulster started the brighter of the two sides but only had themselves to blame for falling behind in the eighth minute.
Hooker Rob Herring missed his man at the lineout and Treviso broke quickly through Japanese powerhouse centre Christian Loamanu who went haring clear down the left flank.

His offload found Nitoglia and when he went back inside to full-back Williams the try was inevitable, the pint-sized full-back stepping past the last defender for the first score of the match, Di Bernardo adding the conversion.

Anscombe's men were being a touch careless in possession and despite their territorial dominance it was Treviso who looked the more threatening on the break in the opening stages.

But the Ulster pack soon began to establish themselves in the tight and the loose and in the 18th minute a driving maul from a lineout brought them close to the try-line.

And No.8 Nick Williams thought he had replied for Ulster when he barged over shortly after but TV replays proved inconclusive and they had to settle for an O'Connor penalty instead to reduce their arrears to 7-3.

They did not have to wait much longer for their first try of the match after quick tap penalty from Paul Marshall put Nelson in the clear down the right and the speedster went over for his first-ever Ulster try, O'Connor converting to stretch the lead to three points.

Just before the half-hour mark Treviso were back on level terms however, Di Bernardo slotting a penalty from the halfway line to make it 10-10 after Ulster strayed offside in midfield.

As the interval approached the Italians took the bold decision to kick for touch rather than have Di Bernardo kick for the posts from inside Ulster's half.

And they were rewarded for their bravery when from the subsequent lineout Fabio Semenzato scampered down the blindside and fed Nitoglia who slid over in the left corner to make it 15-10, Di Bernardo this time missing with the conversion.

Forty minutes remained for Ulster to rescue their unbeaten start to the season but it was Franco Smith's troops that were on top in the opening stages as Herring and the Ulster lineout continued to misfire.

Anscombe's troops did reduce the lead to only two points in the 49th minute however when O'Connor slotted over his third kick of the after Treviso went offside.

And the Irish side were really beginning to turn the screw but after a heavy spell of pressure Williams was again denied a try by the TV replays and when O'Connor pulled the subsequent penalty to the left to leave the Italians were still clinging onto their lead.

But the flyhalf soon made amends, bisecting the uprights from long range to put the Irish side back in front at 16-15 with the hour mark approaching.

No sooner had they hit the front though than the momentum switched again as the Ulster lineout continued to struggled and Loamanu kept punching holes in their midfield.

And as the game entered the final ten minutes it was Smith's side that looked the more likely winner, Di Bernardo's well-struck penalty from inside his own half drifting just to the right.

A mini-break from Jared Payne relieved the pressure for Ulster but they were fortunate that neither the referee nor the linesman spotted Mike McComish's late high tackle on Di Bernardo.

But a driving maul from the Italians with three minutes remaining took them over halfway and when Ulster conceded a penalty Treviso this time opted to kick for the corner.

Another maul saw the penalty again conceded, well within Di Bernardo's range and slightly to the left but the fly-half could not hold his nerve and dragged his 79th minute effort horribly wide.

Ulster only had 60 seconds to hold out and hold out they did to keep their remarkable streak alive.

The scorers:

For Benetton Treviso:
Tries:
Williams, Nitoglia
Con: Di Bernardo
Pen: Di Bernardo

For Ulster:
Try:
Nelson
Con: O'Connor
Pens: O'Connor 3

Teams:

Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Christian Loamanu, 12 Andrew Vilk, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Marco Filippucci, 7 Paul Derbyshire, 6 Valerio Bernabò, 5 Corniel Van Zyl (captain), 4 Marco Fuser, 3 Jacobus Roux, 2 Franco Sbaraglini, 1 Matteo Muccignat.
Replacements: 16 Enrico Ceccato, 17 Giovanni Maistri, 18 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 19 Filippo Giusti, 20 Andrea Pratichetti, 21 Angelo Esposito, 22 James Ambrosini, 23 Luca Morisi.

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Jared Payne, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Niall O'Connor, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson (captain), 7 Mike McComish, 6 Nick Williams, 5 Nigel McComb, 4 Robbie Diack, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Callum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 James Simpson, 20 Ali Birch, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Stuart Olding, 23 Chris Cochrane.

Referee: Peter Allan (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Andrea Spadoni, Stefano Traversi (both Italy)
TMO: Stefano Marama (Italy)

Edinburgh 23-13 Ospreys

Edinburgh got back to winning ways with a 23-13 success over the Ospreys at Murrayfield thanks to some great kicking from Gregor Hunter.

Their last Pro12 victory came back on September 14 against Zebre but a dominant second-half display allowed Edinburgh to emerge victorious at Murrayfield.

Rediscovering their offloading game, Michael Bradley's men could and probably should have scored more than just WP Nel's try but were well-worth their win thanks to fly-half Hunter who finished with 18 points on the.

After a scrappy opening it was Matthew Morgan who gave the Ospreys the lead when he slotted a penalty 16 minutes into the game.

Former Cardiff Blues scrum-half Richie Rees had been forced into touch and was then penalised for slowing down the game - Morgan making no mistake from the resulting kick.

However the home side drew level six minutes later after some concerted Edinburgh pressure resulted in Owen Williams being penalised for hands in the ruck. Fly-half Hunter took the easiest of chances to square things up from in front of the posts.

Just before the half hour the Ospreys moved back in front with another Morgan penalty. Having failed to come away with any points after 27 phases of possession, they showed a more clinical side two minutes later when Dougie Fife failed to release George Stowers.

But with just seven minutes remaining in the first half Edinburgh produced a stunning attack to send Nel over for his second try in Edinburgh colours.

After a series of attacks Hunter sent Fife down the right and some great interpassing between the two and Rees allowed Nel to dive over.

Having taken the lead for the first time Edinburgh needed to consolidate but instead they allowed the Ospreys to score a try of their own before the break.

The visitors attacked with verve and after several phases of desperate defence it was Morgan who latched on to Andrew Bishop's offload to sneak over for the try.

Edinburgh got a quick start in the second half and after gaining the ascendancy in the scrum Williams was sent to the sin bin for repeated failure to bind.

His replacement Nicky Thomas fared no better and from the next scrum Edinburgh earned a penalty which Hunter slotted to reduce the deficit to 13-11.

However the home side were dealt a blow after 50 minutes when Ross Ford was forced off with an injury to be replaced by Alun Walker.

It made no difference to the Edinburgh scrum though as they earned another penalty, Hunter's successful effort putting the home side back in front.

The young flyhalf was at it again just before the hour when he knocked over another penalty as the Ospreys were caught offside.

The momentum was with the home side and they could have extended their lead further but Hunter's delicate chip wouldn't sit up for Tom Brown on the left wing.

Despite failing to finish that chance they did add another penalty, Eli Walker failing to release in the tackle.

Completely against the run of play the Ospreys could have levelled things when Morgan charged down Hunter's clearing kick but with no defenders left to beat he couldn't collect the ball and Edinburgh got back to keep the visitors out.

It went from bad to worse for the Ospreys two minutes later when Sam Lewis became the second player to be sent to the sin bin for slowing down the ball at a ruck.

And to add insult to injury Hunter slotted a penalty with the last kick of the game to deny the Ospreys a losing bonus point after yet another scrum infringement.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh
Try:
Nel
Pens: Hunter 6

For Ospreys:
Try:
Morgan
Con: Morgan
Pens: Morgan 2

Yellow cards: Owen Williams, Ospreys, 43), Sam Lewis (Ospreys, 68)

Teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Sep Visser, 13 Dougie Fife, 12 James King, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Gregor Hunter, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Sean Cox (captain), 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Perry Parker, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 Allan Jacobsen, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Chris Leck, 22 John Houston, 23 Mike Penn.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell 14 Tom Isaacs, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman (captain), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 George Stowers, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Owen Williams, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Jones, 17 Matthew Dwyer, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ross Jones.

Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: David Changleng, Adrian Graves (both Scotland)
TMO: Iain Heard (Scotland)

Glasgow Warriors 0-6 Leinster

Two penalties from Ian Madigan were enough for Leinster to edge past Glasgow Warriors 6-0 at a soaked Scotstoun.

The Warriors came into the game having won their last six Pro12 games but were kept scoreless by a defiant Leinster defence.

In truth though, it was the conditions which won out, with neither team able to put in place sustained periods of attack.

Both sides welcomed back talismanic players, with Sean O'Brien starting at No.8 for Joe Schmidt's side and DTH van der Merwe on the wing for the Warriors.

However with the sodden conditions it was not the ideal environment for either O'Brien's trademark charges or van der Merwe pacy breaks.

Instead it was a real arm wrestle up front but despite edging the second half, Glasgow struggled to make the most of their possession.

Leinster had the better of the opening exchanges, and duly took the lead through fly-half Madigan with a fifth-minute penalty.

While the Irish side looked the more dangerous, Glasgow were defending resolutely, however after seeing off a succession of Leinster attacks on their own line, they were dealt a blow when Tom Ryder was sent to the sin bin.

The lock couldn't resist when Isaac Boss had the ball at the back of a ruck and knocked it out of the Irish international's hands.

However Madigan missed the ensuing penalty to leave the score at 3-0 to the visitors.

With torrential rain and a bitter wind try–scoring opportunities were at a premium and it was made even harder for Glasgow when Chris Fusaro was sin-binned for going off his feet ten minutes into the second half.

Madigan slotted the subsequent penalty to double the Leinster lead only for Glasgow to earn a penalty of their own three minutes later.

Peter Horne made a complete hash of that effort, the ball bouncing harmlessly under the posts, and he was off-target again four minutes later.

Replacement Scott Wight took over the kicking duties but to no greater success, missing his first effort just after the hour.

Glasgow appeared to be in the ascendancy but with handling difficult and a heavy pitch they were not able to turn their possession into points.

In the final minute Leinster were reduced to 14 men when Madigan was sent to the sin bin for a professional foul.

Despite the extra man, Glasgow failed as they had all game to take advantage, and they knocked the ball on with time up to slip to only their second home defeat to Leinster in five years.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:
None

For Leinster:
Pens:
Madigan 2

Yellow cards: Tom Ryder (Glasgow, 24), Chris Fusaro (Glasgow, 49)

Teams:

Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH Van Der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Chris Fusaro (captain), 6 Rob Harley, 5 Tom Ryder, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Finlay Gillies, 17 Ofa Fainga'anuku, 18 Moray Low, 19 James Eddie, 20 Ryan Wilson, 21 George Graham, 22 Scott Wight, 23 Byron McGuigan.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Sean O'Brien, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Aaron Dundon, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Thomas Sexton, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Martin Moore, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 John Cooney, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Andrew Conway.

Referee: Neil Hennessey (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Andy Macpherson, Bob Nevins (both Scotland)
TMO: Andy Ireland (Scotland)

Newport Gwent Dragons 14-3 Connacht

Tom Prydie's trusty boot kicked Newport Gwent Dragons to a 14-3 victory in the Pro12 and brought their miserable run of seven defeats in a row in all competitions to an end.

In a game played in difficult conditions after torrential rain the previous day, Prydie's boot proved pivotal as he notched nine personal points while centre Pat Leach scored the game's only try after Connacht had been temporarily reduced to 13 men.

For Connacht, their poor form on the road continued and despite a bright start, Eric Elwood's men saw their high penalty count cost them dearly, ensuring they have now lost three in a row on their travels in the Pro12, and failed to reach double figures in each.

The visitors began the brighter and made their early possession count, capitalising on some Dragons indiscipline as Dan Parks knocked over his one and only penalty of the on six minutes.

At a rain-soaked Rodney Parade, free-flowing rugby was at a premium and it took until 25 minutes into the match for the next scoring action - Pro12 top-scorer Tom Prydie notching a penalty of his own after Connacht hooker Jason Harris-Wright was sent to the sin bin.

And Connacht were in all sorts of trouble when Andrew Browne joined him on the half-four mark - and the Dragons, shorn of confidence in recent weeks, made them pay.

On 32 minutes, Prydie missed his second penalty kick of the but just minutes later the Dragons capitalised on their numerical advantage to send centre Leach over the try-line.

Prydie missed the conversion however, meaning Connacht, who introduced Ethienne Reynecke for Willie Faloon, were still in touching distance at half-time, 8-3 down.

Buoyed by taking the lead into the break however, the Dragons swiftly extended their advantage in the second half with Prydie rediscovering his accuracy with the boot to add another penalty.

And the Dragons were able to open up some considerable daylight on 52 minutes when Prydie again showed his ability from the tee - stretching the score to 14-3 in the hosts' favour from straight in front of the posts.

The Dragons could scent victory and they set about adding to their lead and after Parks wasted the chance to reduce the arrears with a penalty, Dan Evans also unleashed a fine drop goal attempt that missed by just inches.

Lewis Evans was sent to the sin bin with 13 minutes remaining, ensuring some nervous few moments for the Dragons faithful but Connacht could not find another way through, bringing some much-needed cheer to Rodney Parade.

The scorers:

For Newport Gwent Dragons:
Try:
Leach
Pens: Prydie 3

For Connacht:
Pen:
Parks

Yellow cards: Jason Harris-Wright (Connacht, 25), Andrew Browne (Connacht, 30), Lewis Evans (Newport Gwent Dragons, 67)

Teams:

Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Wayne Evans, 8 Tom Brown, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (captain), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Dan Way, 2 Hugh Gustafson, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Jack Dixon.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Gavin Duffy (captain), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Dave Gannon, 20 Johnny O'Connor, 21 David Moore, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Matt Healy.

Referee: Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy, 4th competition game)
Assistant Referees: James Jones, Kevin Shorte (both Wales)

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