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D'Arcy score moves Leinster up

Sat, 04 Jan 2014 21:31
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Zebre claim historic home win
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Leinster needed a late Gordon D'Arcy score to tie up a 16-8 victory at the Sportsground in an intensely-fought battle with Connacht.

The result saw the defending Pro12 champions move into second place on the standings.

* In the other Saturday game Zebre secured their first-ever Pro12 victory at the Stadio XXV Aprile with a two-point (14-12) margin - and it was made all the sweeter in overcoming Italian rivals Benetton Treviso.

Their second-ever victory in the tournament - after a win on their travels at Cardiff Blues earlier this season - was set up by Guglielmo Palazzani's score early on in the first half.

Saturday, January 4

Connacht 8-16 Leinster

Leinster needed a late Gordon D'Arcy score to tie up a 16-8 victory at the Sportsground in an intensely-fought battle with Connacht.

Fionn Carr crashed over for Connacht in the first half while kickers Darragh Leader and Ian Madigan missed two penalties apiece, though Jack Carty scored one for the hosts just before the break.

Madigan then replacement Jimmy Gopperth (two) pegged them back from the tee in the second period before D'Arcy secured the win for Leinster late on.

The loss means Connacht sink to Pro12's bottom following Zebre's historic triumph at home to Treviso earlier in the day.

And Leinster took their chance to reclaim second spot after Ospreys and Ulster wins on Friday had seen them slip to fourth.

It was Pat Lam's men who shaded the opening stages, scrum-half Kieran Marmion making several purposeful pick and drives but Leinster ensured nothing came to fruition.

The first penalty attempt of the match came the way of the visitors however and from a central position, Madigan slipped the ball just wide of the right post.

But Leinster continued to test the hosts' resolve - D'Arcy asking the most questions - though again defence staved off attack.

The game well and truly exploded into life midway through the half, Robbie Henshaw providing the ammunition as Carr gunned home to round off a dazzling break from Connacht territory.

Carty missed a tricky conversion before Leader, starting at full-back in place of the injured Gavin Duffy, failed to extend the home side's advantage from the kicking tee twice in quick succession

On the half-hour mark Connacht conceded a kickable penalty of their own at the scrum but Madigan thumped the ball against the bar from halfway.

Finally though, the Leinster fly-half split the uprights with a routine effort after his side forced a Connacht error in a rolling maul.

An expertly-taken kick by Henshaw then pinned Matt O'Connor's men back into their 22 and when a penalty was forced, 21-year-old Carty assumed penalty duties to ensure his side went into the break five points to the good.

The game remained finely poised early on in the second half as both sides put their bodies on the line to stem wave after wave of attacks.

Eventually Leinster, led by Rob Kearney, began to scramble Connacht lines yet a cheap penalty at the breakdown put paid to a promising period of play for the visitors.

Their first gilt-edged chances of the second half came when the home side were caught offside, leaving replacement Gopperth - who had replaced Madigan moments earlier - to chop down the deficit to two points.

The pendulum seemed to be swinging Leinster's way when Jamie Heaslip picked up the ball at the base of a scrum and charged on, forcing a penalty for Gopperth to slot through once more.

However a late tackle from Heaslip gifted Connacht a chance to wrestle back the lead, only for Carty's replacement Dan Parks to skew wide.

In the last ten minutes Connacht finally looked leggy under the constant menace of their Irish rivals - and after another well-worked maul, the impressive Gopperth offloaded to D'Arcy who bundled through.

Gopperth nailed the all-important conversion to leave the hosts needing more than a converted try and time petered out without a further score.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Try:
Carr
Pen: Carty

For Leinster:
Try:
D'Arcy
Con: Gopperth
Pens: Madigan, Gopperth 2

Teams:

Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Robbie Henshaw, 12 Eoin Griffin, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 John Muldoon, 6 Andrew Browne, 5 Craig Clarke (captain), 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Michael Swift, 20 George Naoupu, 21 Paul O'Donohoe, 22 Dan Parks, 23 Tiernan O'Halloran.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Zane Kirchner, 13 Brian O'Driscoll, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jamie Heaslip (captain), 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Tom Denton, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Dave Kearney.

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leo Colgan, Ollie Hodges (both Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)

Zebre 14-12 Benetton Treviso

Zebre secured their first-ever Pro12 victory at the Stadio XXV Aprile by 14-12 - and it was made all the sweeter in overcoming Italian rivals Benetton Treviso.

Their second-ever victory in the tournament - after a win on their travels at Cardiff Blues earlier this season - was set up by Guglielmo Palazzani's score early on in the first half.

Mat Berquist was on form for Treviso from the kicking tee but his 12 points was not enough to stop Zebre's day of destiny, as Luciano Orquera hit three penalties for the hosts.

The Italian bragging rights were at stake for the second time between the two sides in the Pro12 after Treviso did the double over Zebre last season.

Victory for the visitors would hand two wins out of two to new boss Marius Goosen - but it was Zebre who piled on the pressure first in front of a packed Stadio XXV Aprile.

And after ten minutes they found the breakthrough when the ball was chipped over the Treviso defence, sparking a mad scramble that saw the ball evade touch by inches before Palazzani deftly dotted down.

Orquera missed a difficult conversion but opposing kicker Berquist - who racked up ten points in last week's derby - split the uprights soon after with a long-range penalty.

Both teams cranked up the tempo including a bisecting run by Zebre wing Giovanbattista Venditti, but it was the two defences that were winning the penalties at the breakdown.

Then Dion Berryman's kick into touch did not have the distance and Treviso won a penalty from the lineout - Berquist stepping up to thump his side into the lead.

It continued to be a war of attrition until a penalty by Italy lock Marco Bortolami handed Berquist another opportunity from the tee, but Zebre escaped scot-free as the Kiwi came up short.

They were made to pay before the interval however as in the last move of the first half the Treviso half-back made no mistake with another three-pointer.

Moments after the interval Orquera finally got the chance to stretch his legs after Berryman had won a penalty in the ruck, popping a simple penalty over the bar.

There was just one point in it and while Treviso were looking the more likelier to cross the whitewash, Orquera was beginning to emerge from Berquist's shadow.

The Italy fly-half smashed through a penalty but no sooner had he re-established a Zebre lead did Berquist, from front and centre, drill the visitors on top once more.

Midway through the half a driving maul by the hosts ground the Treviso defences down and, having forced a penalty, Orquera made it three out of three for the afternoon.

As much as Zebre were sensing their second-ever win in the Pro12 Treviso were gunning for a comeback, but Goosen's troops continued to be ill-discplined at the breakdown with the try-line looming.

And the crucial moment came when Tobias Botes knocked on after collecting a high ball, only for Orquera to fluff his lines from the tee.

Fortunately for the Argentinean it would not matter as Zebre controlled the ball in the dying minutes to see out a historic game.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Try:
Palazzani
Pens: Orquera 3

For Treviso:
Pens:
Berquist 4

Teams:

Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Dion Berryman, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Gonzalo Garcia, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Luciano Orquera, 9 Alberto Chillon, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Andries van Schalkwyk, 6 Mauro Bergamasco, 5 Marco Bortolami (captain), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Davide Giazzon, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Tommaso D'Apice, 17 Salvatore Perugini, 18 Luca Redolfini, 19 George Biagi, 20 Nicola Cattina, 21 Roberto Quartaroli, 22 Giulio Toniolatti, 23 Filippo Ferrarini.

Benetton Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Christian Loamanu, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Angelo Esposito, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Dean Budd, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Michele Rizzo.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Valerio Bernabò, 21 Marco Filippucci, 22 Edoardo Gori, 23 Alberto Di Bernardo.

Referee: Alexandre Ruiz (France)
Assistant Referees: Matteo Liperini, Andrea Spadoni (both Italy)
TMO: Mauro Dordolo (Italy)

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