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Ulster go top with Dragons success

Sat, 13 Apr 2013 05:41
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Glasgow go down
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Ulster bounced back from European disappointment in style as they moved top of the Pro12 table with a comprehensive 31-5 win over the Dragons at Ravenhill.

In another crunch match on Friday tries from Ken Owens and Liam Williams saw Scarlets continue their push for the Pro12 play-offs with a comfortable 29-6 win over Glasgow Warriors.

The loss allowed Ulster to overtake the Scottish outfit, Glasgow, at the top of the standings

In the last of Friday's three matches Robbie Henshaw's late try handed Connacht a dramatic 32-24 win in the Pro12, ending Edinburgh's unbeaten start to life under Duncan Hodge and Stevie Scott in the process.

We look at all Friday's action!

Scarlets 29-6 Glasgow Warriors

Tries from Ken Owens and Liam Williams saw Scarlets continue their push for the Pro12 play-offs with a comfortable 29-6 win over Glasgow Warriors.

The Llanelli-based side have now won their last five games at home and completed the clean sweep against Scottish opponents this season.

Victory for the Warriors would have ensured them a play-off spot but they now find themselves knocked off the top of the table by Ulster and far from guaranteed a home semi-final.

The Scottish outfit were never really at the races at Parc y Scarlets and inspired by the nerveless kicking off Owen Williams the Scarlets moved into fourth with Ospreys playing on Saturday.

In the third minute a clever backs move saw Liam Williams release Jonathan Davies down the right and the scrambling Glasgow defence was forced to concede a penalty.

Fly-half Owen Williams, who has appeared in the last six games for the Welsh region, boomed over the long-range kick and the Scarlets were 3-0 up.

The Warriors were really struggling to settle in the opening exchanges, Ruaridh Jackson's kick charged down while Peter Horne's pass went straight into touch.

But despite the dominant territory the Glasgow defence, so impressive all season long, held firm in the face of some considerable pressure.

But in the 13th minute it finally told and when Gordon Reid used his hands in the ruck Owen Williams, who is heading for Leicester Tigers in the summer, slotted his second penalty of the night.

Jackson was not enjoying the finest of starts and when his sliced clearance off his left foot went out on the full from the re-start Scarlets were again on the front foot.

Owens made the initial break into the 22 and after a series of pick and go drives around the fringes it was Owens again who burrowed under the posts for the first try of the game, Owen Williams adding the extras for 13-0 after 18 minutes.

The Warriors badly needed a foothold in the game and Jackson provided it on 22 minutes, slotting over a very tough penalty from near halfway to make it 13-3.

Owen Williams then slotted a drop goal from close range before a second Jackson penalty made it 16-6 on the half-hour mark.

John Barclay was one of the few Glasgow players to emerge with any credit from an under-par first half and when he won a turnover in front of the posts it was strange to see Jackson, who had made his last 16 kicks in a row for Glasgow, instead opt for a kick to the corner.

And that decision was made to look a poor one when Al Kellock knocked on in sight of the try-line and scrum-half Aled Davies kicked clear to relieve the pressure, leaving it at 16-6 at the break.

Three minutes after the interval and Owen Williams erred from the kicking tee for the first time, his penalty attempt going wide to let-off Gregor Townsend's side.

But their stay of execution did not last long as Liam Williams ghosted over for the Scarlets' second try moments later, collecting George North's offload for an easy score, Owen Williams' conversion making it 23-6.

A 51st minute penalty from Owen Williams increased that lead to 26-6 and when Duncan Weir, on as a replacement for Jackson, smashed a penalty against the post the Scottish side's challenge was all but over.

Now the only debate was whether the Welsh region could get a try bonus point but on the hour mark they strangely opted for the posts again rather than the corner and Owen Williams continued to impress, slotting another penalty for 29-6.

The final quarter of an hour was a somewhat flat affair as both sides appeared to have settled for the result before Andy Fenby made a clean break with three minutes remaining but his offload went to ground and the chance was lost.

Gareth Davies came even closer in the dying moments of the game but a fantastic covering tackle from Horne denied him and it finished 29-6.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries:
Owens, L Williams
Cons: O Williams 2
Pens: O Williams 4
DG: O Williams

For Glasgow:
Pens:
Jackson 2

Teams:

Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Andy Fenby, 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 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhodri Jones, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Sione Timani, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Gareth Maule.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Sean Maitland, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Henry Pyrgos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 4 Tom Ryder, 3 Moray Low, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Sean Lamont.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Neil Hennessy, Jon Mason (both Wales)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)

Ulster 31-5 Newport Gwent Dragons

Ulster bounced back from European disappointment in style as they moved top of the Pro12 table with a comprehensive 31-5 win over the Dragons at Ravenhill.

A week after going out of the European Cup at the hands of Saracens, Ulster took a while to get going as the Dragons frustrated them for the opening quarter, but after Tommy Bowe went over on his first start since injury, they cut loose.

The bonus point win was enough to fire them to the top of the table as they took advantage of Glasgow Warriors' defeat away to the Scarlets.

The Dragons made the quicker start and should have gone in front when they earned a penalty in the very first minute as Ulster failed to release, but Tom Prydie missed a simple effort from in front.

Neither side was really able to impose themselves in the early stages but on 23 minutes a huge Nick Williams charge off the back of a powerful Ulster scrum gave the home side momentum.

The No.8 found Paul Marshall who sprinted through a gap before releasing Bowe for his first try since returning from a knee injury. Ruan Pienaar slotted the conversion from the touchline to make it 7-0.

Five minutes later it got even worse for the Dragons as Dan Evans argued with a decision from referee Leighton Hodges and was sent to the sin bin, Pienaar rubbed salt into the wounds with the resulting penalty.

Ulster took full advantage of the extra man as they attacked off another scrum deep in Dragons territory. After a few charges by the forwards had been repelled, Ulster spread the ball wide and as Bowe's pass appeared to be going astray, Olding snapped it up and rounded the defence to score. Pienaar was again on target with the conversion, this time from the left hand touchline.

The floodgates had opened and the visitors didn't help themselves a couple of minutes later as Prydie's clearance kick skewed horribly into midfield, and with almost the entire Dragons side in an offside position, Darren Cave took full advantage to skip past Aaron Coundley for a third Ulster try. Once more Pienaar was on target with a difficult conversion to make it 24-0 at the break.

The half-time interval didn't appear to slow the Ulster momentum and after four minutes of constant pressure from the home side, Marshall showed some quick-thinking to dart down the blind side for the bonus-point try. Pienaar continued his flawless display from the kicking tee to make it 31-0.

With the five points in the bag, Ulster struggled to kick on and the game became disjointed as both sides rang the changes.

Neither side was able to add to the scoreline until ten minutes from time when the Dragons scored a magnificent length of the field effort.

Toby Faletau was at the heart of it, sprinting down the right touchline and eventually it was Prydie who was on the end of the move to score, replacement Steffan Jones missed the kickable conversion.

Ulster piled forward as they tried to have the final word but some desperate Dragons defence kept them out as they looked certain to score.

Extensive in-game highlights of the Pro12 are now available on the official YouTube channel

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries:
Bowe, Olding, Cave, Marshall
Cons: Pienaar 4
Pen: Pienaar

For Newport Gwent Dragons:
Try:
Prydie

Yellow card: Dan Evans (Newport Gwent Dragons, 29)

Teams:

Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Mike McComish, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Iain Henderson, 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rory Best (captain), 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Callum Black, 18 Declan Fitzpatrick, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Ali Birch, 21 Niall O'Connor, 22 Mike Allen, 23 Adam D'Arcy.

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 Darren Waters, 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Andrew Coombs (captain), 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Aaron Coundley.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Dan Way, 19 Adam Jones, 20 Jevon Groves, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Andy Tuilagi.

Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Paul Haycock, Gary Conway (both Ireland)
TMO: Peter Ferguson (Ireland)

Edinburgh 24-32 Connacht

Robbie Henshaw's late try handed Connacht a dramatic 32-24 win in the Pro12, ending Edinburgh's unbeaten start to life under Duncan Hodge and Stevie Scott in the process.

Henshaw burrowed over from close range with four minutes remaining to re-take the lead, Parks adding a penalty with the last kick of the game to seal the win.

Eric Elwood, in his last season in charge of the Irish outfit, had challenged his side to improve on last season's eighth place finish and this result sees them continue to close the gap on Treviso in seventh.

Four wins in their last five proves Connacht are a side in form while Edinburgh's run of two wins in a row is now at an end despite seeing Laidlaw slot 24 points with the boot.

Edinburgh started the brighter of the two sides but it was Connacht who hit the front early on, Dan Parks slotting over a penalty after the Scottish side did not release in front of their own posts.

But it did not take long for the hosts to respond as Laidlaw made no mistake with a penalty of his own to level it up at 3-3.

The hosts were shading the early exchanges and another nerveless kick from Laidlaw put Edinburgh in front on the quarter-hour mark.

But not for nothing have Connacht won three of their last four in the league and they looked on the verge of the first try of the game as the game reached the 20th minute.

A series of drives on the try line brought Elwood's side close but when the ball went wide it was knocked on and the chance was gone.

And no sooner had Connacht missed their chance than they found themselves 12-3 down, two Laidlaw penalties either side of a fine Tim Visser break putting the Irish region on the back foot.

As half time approached Elwood's side did not deserve to be nine points adrift and they went over for the first try of the game after a quick counter-attack.

Mick Kearney found himself in a two-on-one situation and the flanker eased over, Parks adding the extras to reduce their arrears to only two points at 12-10.

Before half-time the Gunners came close to their first try when Visser hared after a clever Matt Scott kick and when Connacht infringed at the break down Laidlaw had his fifth penalty of the half for a 15-10 lead.

That looked like being the end of the scoring for the first period but despite the sin-binning of Parks there was still time for Gavin Duffy to step up and slot a long range penalty and send Connacht in only 13-15 down.

With Stevie Scott and Hodge's words ringing in their ears it was the Gunners who started brighter and a fine Matt Scott break almost brought their first try.

Connacht went off their feet but Laidlaw missed for the first time on the night to keep the gap at two points.

Elwood's side came straight back and after some impressive Scottish defence on their own five-metre line they eventually conceded a penalty which Parks slotted to put Connacht 16-15 in front.

And with the hour-mark approaching Parks was on target again as the visitors began to turn the screw with their direct approach and make it 19-15.

Edinburgh were soon back on the front foot and Ronan Loughney conceded a penalty that saw him get Connacht's second yellow card of the night.

Laidlaw made no mistake with the penalty and then added another on 60 minutes as the hosts made their one man advantage count to take a 21-19 lead.

But despite still being down to 14 men Parks soon had Connacht back in front, keeping his goal to slot a drop goal and make it 22-21.

Fetu'u Vainikolo then came close to a try with a searing break but Netani Talei was alert with a last-ditch tackle to haul him down and keep Edinburgh in the game as Loughney returned to the field.

But no sooner had the prop retaken the field than his side were back behind as Laidlaw was again on target from the kicking tee.

Defending a narrow lead the indiscipline shown by Edinburgh will have frustrated Scott and Hodge and when they conceded another penalty, admittedly wide out on their own 22, they would have been fearing the worst.

But Parks picked a bad time to miss his first kick of the night, his effort sliding wide as Edinburgh looked set to hold on.

But in the closing stages a sweeping break from Connacht brought them right up to the try-line and Henshaw burrowed over for the try, Parks adding the extras and a penalty with the last kick of the game to deny Edinburgh a losing bonus point.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Pens:
Laidlaw 8

For Connacht:
Tries:
Kearney, Henshaw
Cons: Parks 2
Pens: Parks 4, Duffy
DG: Parks

Yellow cards: Dan Parks (Connacht, 35), Ronan Loughney (Connacht, 54)

Teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks 14 Lee Jones, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Netani Talei, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Stuart McInally, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Geoff Cross, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Steve Lawrie, 17 Robin Hislo, 18 John Yapp, 19 Perry Parke, 20 Robert McAlpine, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Tom Brown.

Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Danie Poolman, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Brian Murphy, 11 Gavin Duffy (captain), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Mick Kearney, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Michael Swift, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Adrian Flavin, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Andrew Browne, 20 Mata Fifita, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu'u Vainikolo.

Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, TBC (both Scotland)

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