Cronin stars in five-try Munster win

Sat, 07 Sep 2013 20:32
Large munster fans

Munster opened their Pro12 campaign with a 34-23 bonus point victory over Edinburgh at Musgrave Park.

James Cronin touched down on his first competitive start, as Munster opened their Pro12 campaign with a 34-23 bonus point victory over Edinburgh at Musgrave Park.

The win saw Munster into second place on the table.

In other Saturday action Fionn Carr marked his return to The Sportsground with a late try as Connacht got their Pro12 season off to a perfect start with a 25-16 victory against Zebre.

Ospreys silenced the home crowd to claim the scalp of Italian side Treviso at their fortress Stadio di Monigo, securing a 24-19 to exact revenge for last season's defeat - again on the opening weekend of the Pro12 season.

We look at all the Saturday action!

Treviso 19-24 Ospreys

Ospreys silenced the home crowd to claim the scalp of Italian side Treviso at their fortress Stadio di Monigo, securing a 24-19 to exact revenge for last season's defeat - again on the opening weekend of the Pro12 season.

Ospreys head coach Steve Tandy was under no illusions about the task facing his team in their season opener.

Last term they struggled to gain any momentum in their season after losing their first three games and Treviso were unbeaten at home against Welsh clubs - an ominous statistic of which Tandy was all too aware.

Tandy was missing seven players through injury while Tito Tebaldi was making his full debut and Joe Bearman his 50th appearance.

And Treviso took the early initiative when Alberto Di Bernardo threaded a 12th-minute penalty moments after a speculative early drop goal had sailed wide.

But Ospreys flyhalf Dan Biggar restored the deadlock and then the game transformed in the visitors' favour when Scott Baldwin crashed the line for the first try in the 23rd minute, a score Biggar duly converted.

Di Bernardo started the second half as he finished the first with a well-taken penalty to put the hosts back ahead, Treviso reaping dividends for pressurising and forcing their visitors to make careless mistakes.

But the game always stayed close and competitive and Biggar's superbly struck drop goal restored Osprey's slender one-point advantage in the 49th minute.

Treviso were making Ospreys work and cover ground but mistakes crept into their game and their Welsh opponents took full advantage.

Ben John put distance between the sides with a 56th-minute try and while Biggar missed the resulting conversion, he made amends with his second drop goal in the 62nd minute.

With a nine-point lead established, Ospreys survived a long period of pressure as Treviso surged forward at the urging of a restless 5,000 strong crowd.

And Simone Favaro drove in from close range - Ospreys will be less than happy with their defending - which Di Bernardo converted to reduce the visitors lead to just three points with 15 minutes remaining.

Biggar missed a late penalty to settle nerves but made amends with a well-threaded kick just two minutes later that ended the scoring.

Ospreys coach Tandy - while delighted with the winning start away from home - will certainly be less than impressed with the moment of field position his side surrendered in the closing stages.

But as Treviso piled forward in search of the score that could have levelled or won the game, Ospreys defence coped well under extreme pressure.

And while there is undoubtedly work to do on discipline, Tandy will have no arguments with a winning start at such a tough venue, especially with an equally demanding road trip to Leinster next on the schedule.

The scorers:

For Treviso
Con: Di Bernardo
Pens: Di Bernardo 4

For Ospreys:
John, Baldwin
Con: Biggar
Pens: Biggar 2
DGs: Biggar 2

Yellow cards: Andrew Bishop (Ospreys, 11), Leonardo Ghiraldini (Treviso, 23)


Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Luca Morisi, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luke McLean, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Manoa Vosawai, 5 Valerio Bernabò, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Alberto De Marchi, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Giovanni Maistri, 17 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 18 Lorenzo Cittadini, 19 Dean Budd, 20 Christian Loamanu, 21 Simone Favaro, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Tobias Botes.

Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Ben John, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tom Smith, 5 James King, 4 Ryan Jones (captain), 3 Joe Rees, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Richard Hibbard, 17 Duncan Jones, 18 Adam Jones, 19 Ian Evans, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tom Grabham, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Jeff Hassler.

Referee: Neil Paterson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Giuseppe Vivarini (Italy), Stefano Traversi (Italy)
TMO: Claudio Damasco (Italy)

Connacht 25-16 Zebre

Fionn Carr marked his return to The Sportsground with a late try as Connacht got their Pro12 season off to a perfect start with a 25-16 victory against Zebre.

Carr, who was back in action for Connacht after a two-year stint at Leinster, scored in the second half before Luca Redolfini broke through for a consolation try at the death.

Tries from Nathan White and Matt Healy saw the hosts race away in the first half while Dan Parks recovered from a sluggish start to kick two penalties and two conversions.

A deadeye Luciano Orquera was on target with all three of his penalties - and a successful conversion - but Zebre were always trailing a dominant Connacht.

Former Samoa captain Pat Lam took over the reins at The Sportsground in the summer and saw his new charges get off to a flying start as tighthead White touched down for the hosts after Andrew Browne poached the ball from a lineout.

The try was converted by Parks but almost immediately Orquera drilled a penalty between the posts after Connacht failed to roll away.

Parks, who is into his second season at Connacht after making the switch from Pro12 rivals Cardiff Blues last year, missed two of his own penalties in quick succession midway through the half.

But the Irish outfit finally pressed home their superior play after 29 minutes when winger Healy stole in for the try - and this time, Parks was on point to nail the extras.

Though the veteran flyhalf was hit-and-miss from the tee, his boot was helping to pin Zebre back inside their own 22 and following an advantage at the scrum, he was at hand to smash through a penalty just before half-time.

Zebre, who failed to record a win in their maiden Pro12 season last year, boosted their hopes of a comeback after the break as Italy international Orquera made no mistake with his second penalty of the afternoon.

Sensing an opportunity the visitors pushed on and their trusty flyhalf kicked another three points on to the board on the hour mark, as Parks' penalty misses began to look costly for Connacht.

However, his kicking blossomed as the game went on and his penalty helped the home side record an almost immediate response to a Zebre side growing in confidence.

The Italians could not find a way through a stout Connacht line and their subsequent chances came in the form of more penalties - centre Gonzalo Garcia booting wide an ambitious effort from just inside Zebre's half.

Replacement wing Matteo Pratichetti was sin binned with six minutes to go before wing Carr put the gloss on proceedings for Connacht - as Parks converted - while Redolfini replied in stoppage time.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Carr, Healy, White
Cons: Parks 2
Pens: Parks 2

For Zebre:
Con: Orquera
Pens: Orquera 3

Yellow card: Matteo Pratichetti (Zebre, 73)


Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Eoin Griffin, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 George Naoupu, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 John Muldoon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Michael Swift (c), 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Sean Henry, 17 Rodney Ah You, 18 Ronan Loughney, 19 Aly Muldowney, 20 Jake Heenan, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.

Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Giovanbattista Venditti, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giulio Toniolatti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (c), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Andrea Manici, 17 Luca Redolfini, 18 Salvatore Perugini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 Tommaso Iannone, 23 Matteo Pratichetti.

Referee: Rhys Thomas (Wales)
Assistant referees: Eddy Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Dave O'Flynn (Ireland)
TMO: Michael Carroll (Ireland)

Munster 34-23 Edinburgh

James Cronin touched down on his first competitive start as Munster opened their Pro12 campaign with a 34-23 bonus point victory over Edinburgh at Musgrave Park.

Edinburgh opened the scoring with a Piers Francis penalty but Denis Hurley and James Coughlan both touched down to give the hosts an early lead.

Cronin made the most of the one man advantage after Lee Jones saw yellow after 25 minutes, by scoring under the posts, but Edinburgh responded after the break with a Nick De Luca try.

Ivan Dineen grabbed another Munster try a few minutes later and JJ Hanrahan extended the lead before Jones pulled one back for Edinburgh but the hosts held on.

Munster started brightly and Sean Dougall almost finished an excellent move in the first five minutes but knocked on when closing in on the try line.

And it was the visitors who opened the scoring when Francis snuck a penalty just inside the right hand post to give Edinburgh the lead.

Munster hit back immediately as Ian Keatley found Hurley on the wing and he touched down in the corner to put the hosts ahead.

And captain Coughlan extended their advantage after a cheeky kick from Johne Murphy bounced perfectly for the No.8 and he crossed before Keatley converted.

Keatley then added three more points from a simple penalty right in front of the posts to put Munster ahead 15-3 after 20 minutes.

Francis pulled Edinburgh to within nine points with another penalty five minutes later but Jones was yellow carded shortly after for tackling Coughlan in the air.

And Munster took advantage when Cronin, who was promoted from the academy this summer, powered over under the posts and Keatley slotted an easy conversion.

The Edinburgh pack continued to be their most effective outlet and they earned another penalty just after the half hour mark but Francis could not make it count.

But they did get themselves back in the game ten minutes into the second half when De Luca darted through the Munster line to score under the posts before Francis converted easily.

Muster responded immediately, and secured the bonus point with their fourth try, when Dineen finished an excellent move, crossing the whitewash on the wing.

Harry Leonard replaced Francis just after the hour mark and immediately reduced the Scottish side's deficient by three-points with a central kick.

But replacement pair Cathal Sheridan and Hanrahan combined well from a Munster scrum with the latter crossing under the posts before Edinburgh grabbed a consolation try through Jones in the final ten minutes.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Hurley, Coughlan, Cronin, Dineen, Hanrahan
Cons: Keatley 2, Hanrahan
Pens: Keatley

For Edinburgh:
De Luca, Jones
Cons: Francis, Leonard
Pens: Francis 2, Leonard

Yellow card: Lee Jones (Edinburgh, 28)


Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Ronan O'Mahony, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Ivan Dineen, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan (captain), 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donncha O'Callaghan, 4 Dave Foley, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Cian Bohane.

Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Piers Francis, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 David Denton, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 Sean Cox (captain), 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 WP Nel, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Alasdair Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 Aleki Lutui, 17 Geoff Cross, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Hamish Watson, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Harry Leonard, 23 Jack Cuthbert.

Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

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Pool A
Team P W D L Pts
Glasgow Warriors 21 15 1 5 76
Munster 21 13 1 7 69
Cheetahs 21 12 0 9 63
Cardiff Blues 21 11 0 10 54
Ospreys 21 9 0 12 44
Connacht 21 7 0 14 39
Zebre 21 7 0 14 36
Pool B
Team P W D L Pts
Leinster 21 14 1 6 70
Scarlets 21 14 1 6 70
Edinburgh 21 15 0 6 68
Ulster 21 12 2 7 62
Treviso 21 11 0 10 55
Dragons 21 2 2 17 20
Kings 21 1 0 20 11