Ulster make history; leapfrog Leinster
Tries from Robbie Diack and Iain Henderson helped Ulster to a dramatic 22-18 win over Leinster.
Tries from Robbie Diack and Iain Henderson helped Ulster to a dramatic 22-18 win over Leinster.
The result sees them overtake their Irish rivals in the Pro12 table.
* Despite a second-half fight back from the Cardiff Blues, the Ospreys hung on to claim a 23-16 victory in another Saturday match.
The result meant they kept their Pro12 play-off dreams alive at the Millennium Stadium.
* Centre Jonathan Davies grabbed the decisive try on his 100th appearance for the Scarlets, who clinched an impressive 28-20 victory over the Dragons at the Millennium Stadium.
* The game between Benetton Treviso and Connacht, due to be played at Stadio Monigo, has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
We look at all Saturday's action!
Newport Gwent Dragons 20-28 Scarlets
Centre Jonathan Davies grabbed the decisive try on his 100th appearance for the Scarlets, who clinched an impressive 28-20 victory over the Dragons at the Millennium Stadium.
In the first half of Judgement Day, Davies and two George North scores helped the Scarlets to a victory over the defiant Dragons which saw Simon Easterby's side move into the top four.
But they could not find the fourth try which would earn them an extra point, ensuring they went four points clear of the Ospreys, who face the Blues later on Saturday at the Millennium Stadium.
Leading 16-13, Davies grabbed the crucial try for Scarlets on 66 minutes and North crossed for his second score two minutes later in a devastating short burst that accounted for the Dragons.
Scarlets began the brighter and earned the chance to break the deadlock on 11 minutes but fly-half Owen Williams saw his effort drift just wide.
He made no mistake on 19 minutes however as Scarlets continued to dominate the opening exchanges, knocking over his first penalty of the day after Wales No.8 Toby Faletau was called up for collapsing a maul and subsequently sent to the sin bin.
Dragons were struggling to get a foothold in the match and the Scarlets extended their lead on 26 minutes when Wales flyer North finished off a fine flowing move.
Owen Williams made the first break and found scrum-half Aled Davies inside, who immediately popped the ball back outside to the onrushing North who was not going to be denied after breaking the Dragons line.
Owen Williams converted and the Scarlets threatened to run riot when they were awarded another penalty, only for their fledgling fly-half to strike the post.
The Dragons then hit back and scrum-half Jonathan Evans darted through a gap after picking up from the base of a ruck, sold Scarlets prop Phil John a dummy and darted over against the run of play.
Tom Prydie converted and the Dragons continued to grow in confidence and pulled level despite the Scarlets' first-half dominance right on 40 minutes.
Scott Williams was penalised at the breakdown and Prydie booted his first penalty of the day as the sides went in 10-10 at the break.
The Scarlets, perhaps feeling they had the Dragons their for the taking in the first half, flew out of the blocks after the break and replacement hooker Ken Owens burst down the left but could not free his backs.
Owen Williams restored the Scarlets' lead from the tee on 45 minutes but that stirred the Dragons into life and the Pro12 strugglers began to exert their authority on the match.
It came from a superb break from fly-half Dan Evans, who found Will Harries on the right but he could not finish the job and the Scarlets came back to cover.
Harries made up for it soon after however with a superb break down the left but Davies darted down the blindside but was stopped just short by North.
The Dragons kept coming and finally had some points to show for their endeavour but it was three not five - Prydie drawing his side level again from the tee on 56 minutes.
But frustratingly for the Dragons, the Scarlets hit back almost immediately, Owen Williams on target from the tee before hitting the post soon after with another.
But then came the killer blow as Scarlets centre Scott Williams broke the Dragons line down the right and fed Davies on the right who was tackled but showed great improvisation to drag himself backwards over the try-line.
That took the wind out of the Dragons' sails and the Scarlets had their third try almost immediately.
Davies fielded the restart after Owen Williams had slotted the conversion and he, Gareth Owen and Owens combined to release North down the right and the winger streaked clear for his second score.
The Scarlets were in search of the fourth try that would secure the extra point but in doing so they left themselves open and the Dragons were the next on the scoresheet.
After concerted pressure saw the Dragons knocking on the door, the impressive Evans got the try his performance deserved, stepping over and dotting down for the score, converted by Prydie.
For Newport Gwent Dragons:
Tries: D Evans, J Evans
Cons: Prydie 2
Pens: Prydie 2
Tries: Davies, North 2
Cons: Williams 2
Pens: Williams 3
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Ross Wardle, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs (captain), 3 Dan Way, 2 Hugh Gustafson, 1 Aaron Coundley.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Jevon Groves, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Adam Hughes.
Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Liam Williams, 10 Owen Williams, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (captain) 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.
Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland, 49th competition game)
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy, Jon Mason (both Wales)
Cardiff Blues 16-23 Ospreys
Despite a second half fight back from the Cardiff Blues, the Ospreys hung on to claim a 23-16 victory and keep their Pro12 play-off dreams alive at the Millennium Stadium.
Leading 20-10 at the interval the Ospreys allowed the tempo to slacken and Cardiff worked their way back into the game.
But a late Dan Biggar penalty meant the Ospreys moved back into fourth place in the table ahead of Welsh rivals the Scarlets on points difference.
The Ospreys started the game with intent, a powerful scrum opening up gaps in the middle of the field through which Jonathan Thomas was able to attack Cardiff fly-half Rhys Patchell's channel and make big gains as Cardiff desperately funnelled back in defence.
But a fantastic break down the left led by Cardiff's Gavin Evans ended with the ball flicked inside to Leigh Halfpenny who crossed for the first try of the game on six minutes.
Halfpenny converted his own score to give the Blues a 7-0 lead, although that was immediately eroded by a Dan Biggar penalty that got the Ospreys on the scoreboard from wide out.
But the Ospreys suffered a setback when international lock Ian Evans departed with quarter of the game gone after a bang on the hip to be replaced by Joe Bearman.
With Justin Tipuric in full flow the Ospreys looked to attack, Tipuric nearly crashing over only to be repelled at close quarters.
The ball was recycled and James King steamed over out wide to touch down near the posts and put the Ospreys ahead for the first time. Dan Biggar's conversion made it 10-7 and took the Wales fly-half to 898 league points.
Halfpenny kept Cardiff in the game with his first penalty of the evening to level the scores at 10-10, but Biggar restored the three point gap with a shot at goal of his own shortly after.
Seven minutes before the break the Ospreys scored their second try of the game, with Tipuric to the fore again. The flanker made a powerful surge forward before the ball was moved through the hands to Spratt who shrugged off the attempted tackle of Patchell to cross the whitewash.
Biggar's conversion made it 20-10 at the interval and sent the Ospreys in at half-time in the second game of Judgement Day dreaming of a bonus point.
But the introduction of prop Taufa'ao Filise from the bench at the start of the second period changed the complexion of the match, with Cardiff exerting much more pressure at the set-piece.
One rumbling drive forward took Cardiff to the Ospreys 22 and the penalty inevitably followed, with Halfpenny dispatching the shot with ease.
The swing in momentum seemed to disrupt the Ospreys who struggled to get any go forward as the game reached 60 minutes.
However, Cardiff lost influential scrum-half Lloyd Williams to injury going into the final quarter shortly Halfpenny struck another penalty to reduce the deficit to just four points at 20-16 to keep the Blues in the hunt.
And the pressure seemed to get to Biggar who snatched at an easy penalty chance as the Ospreys struggled to get on the scoreboard in the second half.
But a high kick to Alun Wyn Jones found the lock on the wing and he in turn passed to Spratt whose bullocking run took the Ospreys deep into the Cardiff 22 only for Scott Baldwin to knock on a bullet pass from Biggar five metres out.
But with the clock ticking away the Ospreys expertly kept play in the Cardiff area forcing a series of attacking scrums before Biggar kicked a late penalty to win the game.
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Halfpenny 3
Tries: Spratt, King
Cons: Biggar 2
Pens: Biggar 3
Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Gavin Evans (captain), 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Luke Hamilton, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Lou Reed, 4 Filo Paulo , 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Taufa'ao Filise, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Rory Watts-Jones, 21 Lewis Jones ,22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Gareth Davies.
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Tom Isaacs, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Jonathan Thomas, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 3 Adam Jones, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Ryan Bevington
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Lloyd Peers, 20 Joe Bearman, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ben John.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies, Sean Brickell (both Wales)
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)
Leinster 18-22 Ulster
Tries from Robbie Diack and Iain Henderson helped Ulster to a dramatic 22-18 win over Leinster that sees them overtake their Irish rivals in the Pro12 table.
In the rematch of last year's Heineken Cup final Ulster were deserved winners in the RDS, their first ever victory at the ground and their first in Dublin for 14 years that sees them climb back up to second in the league.
Diack's first-half score and Henderson's effort after the break were supplemented by some superb goal-kicking from man-of-the-match Ruan Pienaar.
For Leinster it was once again the Ian Madigan show, the 24-year-old fly-half kicking six penalties from six but his side failed to get over the whitewash, with some last-ditch defending from Ulster denying them at the death.
The win was greeted by near total silence at a stunned RDS but comes at the perfect time for an Ulster side that had struggled to match their whirlwind start to the season in recent weeks.
The last time Leinster suffered defeat in the Pro12 was back in December, when Ulster prevailed 27-19 at Ravenhill and Mark Anscombe's side came roaring out of the blocks this time around as well, a well-rehearsed backs move putting Andrew Trimble through a hole in the Leinster midfield early on.
But after phase after phase of play on the Leinster tryline it was the returning Springbok scrumhalf Pienaar who knocked on and the chance was gone.
And after a quarter of an hour Madigan, Leinster's hero against Glasgow last weekend, had notched the first points of game, slotting a penalty to put the hosts 3-0 up.
Ulster were the dominant force in the first half despite Madigan slotting over another penalty from an almost identical position to the first only moments later.
But in the 22nd minute the visitors had the first try of the match, and deservedly so. No. 8 Nick Williams busting a hole up the middle before Paddy Jackson spread the ball left to Diack who muscled over in the corner.
Jackson missed with the conversion to leave the score at 6-5 to Leinster but no sooner had Ulster closed the game than the hosts pulled away again, winning a penalty at the scrum that Madigan duly slotted away.
Anscombe's men were very much on the front foot still as the half-time whistle approached, fullback Jared Payne knocking on when well-placed on the right but Pienaar's first penalty of the night made it 9-8.
That looked like being the end of the scoring for the first half but as time expired Madigan kept his cool to add his fourth penalty.
The kicking battle continued after the interval as two Pienaar penalties to one Madigan effort tightened things up again at 15-14 as the clock ticked round to the hour mark.
Craig Gilroy was a constant menace to the Leinster line and it was his break down the left that set up the next attack in the 64th minute.
The ball was spread back right and after Trimble was tackled just short of the line, Pienaar's quick wittedness allowed him to feed Henderson who plunged over in the right corner for their second try.
Pienaar missed with the tough conversion but at 19-15 Ulster were deservedly in front at the RDS and Leinster had it all to do.
But not for nothing are Joe Schmidt's side the champions of Europe and with the unerring Madigan in their side points come easily, Ulster again penalised at the scrum and the stand-off kicking his sixth penalty from six attempts.
With only one point in it heading into the final ten minutes the next score was always going to be vital, and it was Pienaar who held his nerve to slot a tricky penalty from out wide on the right and make it 22-18 to the visitors.
Ulster were good value for their lead but the set-piece was a continual source of frustration, Rory Best and his front row cohorts once again penalised with five minutes to go.
Right in front of the posts and with Madigan still faultless from the tee, Leinster instead opted to kick for the corner but some resolute defending on their try-line saw Ulster fight off the initial threat.
Phase after phase on their own try line saw Ulster defend manfully as the game ticked round to 80 minutes and then further as the referee played advantage to Leinster over and over for continual offside.
Anscombe must have wondered what else his side had to do to win the game, Payne sent to the sin bin as the game entered the fifth minute of time added on but the 14 men got their reward when Leinster's final surge was held up over the line.
Pens: Madigan 6
Tries: Diack, Henderson
Pens: Pienaar 4
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brendan Macken, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Jamie Hagan, 19 Leo Cullen, 20 Rhys Ruddock, 21 John Cooney, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Andrew Conway.
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Nick Williams 7 Chris Henry, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Calum Black, 18 Kyle McCall, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Roger Wilson , 22 Paul Marshall, 23 Peter Nelson.
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, David Connolly (both Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
Benetton Treviso v Connacht - Postponed
The Pro12 Round 19 game between Benetton Treviso and Connacht, due to be played at Stadio Monigo, has been postponed due to a waterlogged pitch.
Details of the re-arrangement will be announced when known.