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O'Driscoll saves Leinster

Sat, 13 Apr 2013 21:05
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We look at all Saturday's action!
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Brian O'Driscoll came to Leinster's rescue as his late try gave them a 22-16 Pro12 win over arch-rivals Munster at Thomond Park.

In other action on Saturday s fine all-round display from Wales international Dan Biggar helped Ospreys back into the Pro12 play-off places as they saw off the challenge of Treviso.

* And Cardiff Blues celebrated securing their place in next season's European Cup with a 28-13 victory against winless Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

We look at Saturday's action!

Cardiff Blues 28-13 Zebre

Cardiff Blues celebrated securing their place in next season's European Cup with a 28-13 victory against winless Zebre at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

Newport Gwent Dragons' 31-5 defeat on Friday to Ulster meant they could not catch the Blues, who will be playing in Europe's premier cup competition next season.

And Cardiff swept Zebre away in the rain, running in three tries to the Italians' one, including a late score for Jamie Roberts.

The Welsh star and his fellow international Ceri Sweeney said goodbye to the region in style, playing a full part in the victory in what is expected to be their final home game for the region.

The Blues didn't make the perfect start when they were penalised on three minutes and former Waratahs fly-half Daniel Halangahu took advantage to slot the resulting kick at goal between the posts.

The Blues took their time to work their way back into the game, but levelled when Leigh Halfpenny knocked over a penalty of his own on 11 minutes to make it 3-3.

Seven minutes later and Cardiff grabbed their first try of the afternoon through precocious young fly-half Rhys Patchell, the 19-year-old crossing the line for his first try in the Pro12. Halfpenny was successful with the conversion to give Cardiff a lead they never looked like relinquishing.

The gap between the two sides increased on 23 minutes when Halfpenny was successful with his second penalty, and it looked a long way back for a Zebre side as they searched in vain for their first win of the season.

Shortly before the half-hour mark Zebre thought they had got a foothold back in the game when 29-year-old Halangahu kicked home his second penalty of the afternoon to reduce the gap to one converted try.

But two quick scores leading up to the interval confirmed Cardiff's dominance, with Halfpenny's third penalty seven minutes before the break extending their lead to 16-6.

Three minutes later and Zebre were left with a mountain to climb as former Scarlets centre Gavin Evans powered over for Cardiff's second try of the afternoon in front of the near 10,000-strong crowd.

The dispatching of Zebre winger Leonardo Sarto to the sin bin four minutes before the break left the Italian visitors underpowered at the start of a second half in which both teams struggled to cross the whitewash.

Exeter-bound Ceri Sweeney replaced Patchell on the hour-mark as both sides rung the changes to join Roberts in a winning farewell to the Cardiff fans.

There was little tryline action as the second period drew to a conclusion with Cardiff happy to remain solid and protect their lead in the downpour.

But Roberts secured the try the crowd had come to see with seven minutes remaining when he ran in to finish his Cardiff career in style.

Halfpenny was unable to increase the lead with his conversion and the game looked like ending 28-6 but Zebre refused to go quietly into the night and continued to fight as the clock ran down.

And the Italians were rewarded for their perseverance when replacement Filippo Cristiano struck in the final minute to get their first try on the board. Centre Alberto Chiesa made no mistake with the extras as Zebre finished the game on a high despite the defeat.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries:
Patchell, Evans, Roberts
Cons: Halfpenny 2
Pens: Halfpenny 3

For Zebre:
Try:
Cristiano
Con: Chiesi
Pens: Halangahu 2

Yellow card: Leonardo Sarto (Zebre, 36)

Teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Owen Williams, 13 Gavin Evans (captain), 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Harry Robinson, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Sam Warburton, 6 Michael Paterson, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Lou Reed, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Taufa'ao Filise.
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 James Down, 20 Luke Hamilton, 21 Alex Walker, 22 Ceri Sweeney, 23 Gareth Davies.

Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Giovanbattista Venditti, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Andries van Schalkwyk, 7 Filippo Ferrarini, 6 Josh Sole, 5 Marco Bortolami (captain), 4 Michael van Vuren, 3 Luciano Leibson, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Andrea de Marchi, 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 Nicola Belardo, 20 Filippo Cristiano, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Alberto Chiesi, 23 Matteo Pratichetti.

Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant Referees: Tim Hayes, Julian Smith (both Wales)

Munster 16-22 Leinster

Brian O'Driscoll came to Leinster's rescue as his late try gave them a 22-16 Pro12 win over arch-rivals Munster at Thomond Park.

Wins for both the Scarlets and the Ospreys this weekend had increased the pressure on Joe Schmidt's side in the race for the play-off spots and for a while it looked as if Munster were going to put a spanner in the works.

Paul O'Connell's side have little left to play for in the domestic league but a local rivalry of this magnitude meant the game was anything but a dead rubber.

Fresh from their European Cup quarter-final win over Harlequins, Munster scored two tries through Ian Keatley and Felix Jones, to O'Driscoll's solitary score for the visitors but it was the boot of Ian Madigan that kept the game tight.

It was Leinster who started brightly and it looked for all the world like Rob Kearney had scored the first try of the game in the opening exchanges but the TMO denied him for not grounding the ball.

Despite that setback the visitors kept coming and deservedly were in front in the sixth minute as Madigan slotted over a penalty after Dave Kilcoyne was penalised at scrum time.

Munster were clearly struggling in the scrum and a few minutes later Madigan again made them pay with his second penalty before then adding a third moments later for an early 9-0 lead.

Munster needed a score and soon and it was Keatley who provided it, the fly-half darting over in the corner for the game's first try after Damian Varley had secured quick turnover ball for the home side.

The flyhalf, picked ahead of Ronan O'Gara for the clash, then missed with the touchline conversion but Munster were well and truly in the game.

And barely two minutes had passed before a rampant Munster pack had engineered a second score, a driving maul sucking in defenders before the ball was spread wide for Felix Jones to go over in the corner.

Keatley was again askew with the extras but the Thomond Park faithful now had a lead to celebrate for the first time in the game at 10-9.

The unerring right boot of Madigan was keeping Leinster in the game though and they re-took the lead just before the break, the fly-half slotting his fourth penalty of the half for a 12-10 lead at the interval.

But the battle of the young stand-offs was only just heating up as Keatley, playing against his former club, showed his precision after the break to knock over two successive penalties, the second from his own half, to open up a 16-12 lead.

Madigan responded in kind from close range after O'Connell was pinged just before the hour mark and there was only one point in it at 16-15 to the home side.

A terrible looking injury to Dave Kearney then brought a brief half to proceedings, the winger getting booted in the head by O'Connell as the second-row attempted to hack the loose ball through.

After the winger was stretchered off to be replaced by Andrew Conway it was Leinster who remained in the ascendancy.

And after a period of sustained pressure by the Leinster pack in the opposition 22 they finally had their try, and it was that man O'Driscoll who did the damage.

The centre had already been denied from close range a few phases earlier but there was no stopping the 34-year-old this time as he burrowed over right under the posts for the decisive score on 70 minutes.

Madigan added the simple conversion and Leinster were 22-16 up with ten minutes to see out for a vital win in the context of the play-off hunt.

Munster, led by the inspirational O'Connell once again, gave their all in the closing stages to steal it but Leinster held firm, Jamie Heaslip winning the crucial turnover late on to seal the result that ended Munster's already slim chances of a play-off berth.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries:
Keatley, Jones
Pens: Keatley 2

For Leinster:
Try:
O'Driscoll
Con: Madigan
Pens: Madigan 5

Teams:

Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Denis Hurley, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Damien Varley, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Mike Sherry, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 B Holland, 20 Dave O'Callaghan, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 Ivan Dineen.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Dave Kearney, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Leo Cullen (captain), 3 Mike Ross, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Kevin McLaughlin, 21 John Cooney, 22 Andrew Goodman, 23 Andrew Conway.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant Referees: David Wilkinson, Jonathan Peak (both Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

Ospreys 28-3 Benetton Treviso

A fine all-round display from Wales international Dan Biggar helped Ospreys back into the Pro12 play-off places as they saw off the challenge of Treviso.

Biggar crashed over for a try and kicked three penalties to see his side to a comfortable 28-3 victory at the Liberty Stadium, getting the better of the Italians for the first time in three meetings this season.

Winger Ben John and scrum-half Rhys Webb also scored tries, with Biggar converting twice - from his own score and that of Webb's which came from the final play of the match.

The victory keeps Ospreys in contention to retain their Pro12 title, though they missed out on a bonus point that could yet prove crucial.

Steve Tandy's men had fallen out of the top four ahead of kick off after fellow Welsh region Scarlets beat Glasgow last night to leapfrog them in the play-offs.

And the hosts' plans were dealt a further blow as they were forced into a late change at the Liberty Stadium when Kahn Fotuali'i, who is set to leave the club for Premiership side Northampton Saints in the summer, was forced to withdraw from the team due to illness, Webb taking his place at scrum-half.

It was the visitors who struck first as their scrum-half Tobias Botes kicked a seventh-minute penalty following a tight opening to the match.

But the Italians were unable to kick on from that early advantage, and their lead was soon cancelled out with an Ospreys penalty, Biggar pulling his side back level at 3-3, after striking an earlier attempt against the post.

The Ospreys fly-half looked in good form though, and it was his boot that soon had the hosts in control and by the 32nd minute he had kicked two further penalties following poor defence from the visitors for a 9-3 lead.

They had their first try of the match a minute before half-time, and it was gift-wrapped to them by the Italians who gave possession away for John to crash over and increase his side's lead to 14-3, Biggar blotting his copybook by missing the conversion.

In the second half, Ospreys immediately set about the Treviso defence in a bid to increase their lead, but they found the visitors in resolute mood, clearly showing defiance buoyed by recent victories over Cardiff Blues and Munster, and a draw in Belfast against Ulster in their previous three outings.

Eventually though the pressure told and Biggar again was at the centre of it as he picked up a loose ball after poor handls from Treviso and slid over the try line ten minutes after the break, before converting for a 21-3 lead.

For much of the second half there were few attacking opportunities for either side, though Ospreys continued to force the issue knowing a bonus point could prove vital in their ongoing battle with Welsh rivals Scarlets.

But despite enjoying a man advantage for ten minutes from the hour mark when Bees Roux was sent to the sin bin for Treviso, it wasn't until the final minute of the match that they could increase their lead as Webb finished off a good move, Biggar adding the extras.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries:
John, Biggar, Webb
Cons: Biggar 2
Pens: Biggar 3

For Treviso:
Pen:
Botes

Yellow card: Jacobus Roux (Treviso, 62)

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Tom Habberfield, 13 Jonathan Spratt, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Ben John, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Kahn Fotuali'i, 8 Joe Bearman, 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 Cai Griffiths, 19 Lloyd Peers, 20 Jonathan Thomas, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Tom Isaacs.

Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Gideon La Grange, 11 Edoardo Gori, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Dean Budd, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Francesco Minto, 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini (captain), 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Giovanni Maistri, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Jacobus Roux, 19 Antonio Pavanello, 20 Paul Derbyshire, 21 Marco Filippucci, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Kristopher Burton.

Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Ian Davies, Alan Jenkins (both Wales)
TMO: Tony Rowlands (Wales)

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