Connacht hand Ulster first defeat
PRO12 FRIDAY WRAP: Defending champions Connacht produced a stellar performance to down league leaders Ulster 30-25 as Cian Kelleher bagged a double.
Kelleher scored twice, while Jack Carty and James Connolly also touched down for Connacht as they continued their recent resurgence following a slow start to the new campaign.
Meanwhile, Damien Hoyland's first half try-double set the tone as Edinburgh won their first game under acting head coach Duncan Hodge in style, smashing Benetton Treviso 45-10 at Murrayfield.
Hoyland, who scored twice the last time he faced Treviso, was joined on the scoresheet by Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury in a half that saw Edinburgh wrap up the try-bonus point.
Elsewhere, Ospreys scored seven tries as they recovered from an early deficit in their Welsh derby with Cardiff Blues to win 46-24 as Eli Walker starred with a double.
Alun Wyn Jones, two tries from Walker and Dimitri Arhip all scored before the break for the Ospreys as they took control of the game, while Ben John and Dan Evans touched down straight after half-time in the romp, with Josh Matavesi added the seventh.
All Friday's scores and scorers!
Connacht 30-25 Ulster
Carty waltzed through under the post after only three minutes for the game's opening score after Connacht had put together multiple phases in the Ulster 22 following a smart break from hooker Dave Heffernan. Carty also added the extras off the tee.
Ulster, who welcomed wing Tommy Bowe back into their starting XV for the first time in six months, sat top of the table with five wins from five before kick-off but the opening exchanges were even. And the visitors dragged themselves back into contention minutes later as Paddy Jackson slotted over a simple penalty to make the score 7-3.
Pat Lam's champions got off and running for the season last time out with a 28-15 defeat of Edinburgh and the win seemed to buoy Connacht as they dominated the opening exchanges against Ulster.
Things got even better for Connacht on 23 minutes as Kelleher finished off a flowing team move to score his side's second try of the game, producing a smart sidestep to finish things off. Carty this time struck the woodwork with his conversion in a swirling wind to leave the score at 12-3.
Straight from the restart Connacht strung together multiple phases again, resulting in replacement Connolly powering his way over for his side's third score of the night after missed tackles saw the home side go from one end to the other.
After a difficult start to their title defence, Connacht seemed to finally find their form of last season and Carty added to the strong start by adding the conversion to make the score 19-3.
Ulster were handed a lifeline on 32 minutes as Conor Carey was sin-binned for a side entry from a driving maul as Connacht attempted to fend off heavy pressure from the visitors. The numerical advantage eventually paid off as Craig Gilroy ran in for a try, cashing in on continued Ulster pressure but Jackson missed the resulting conversion.
Carty added a crucial score on 38 minutes to take the score back to 22-8 as he held his nerve to land a much-needed penalty. Ulster looked a complete different side after the break and scored two quick tries in just a matter of minutes to turn the game on its head.
First, hooker Rory Best burrowed his way over from close range, with Jackson adding the extras, before Bowe created a score for stand-in skipper Jared Payne to run in under the posts, with again the Ulster No.10 converting to leave the scores all square at 22-22.
Connacht refused to roll over though and Kelleher scored his second try of the night on 52 minutes to edge his side in front, scoring out wide after another flowing team move. While Carty, who missed the conversion after Kelleher's score, edged Connacht further in front with a penalty to make the score 30-22 soon after.
Jackson reduced the score to 30-25 with a well struck penalty on 65 minutes, while the Ulster flyhalf thought he had darted over for a try minutes later but was penalised for accidental offside. Ross Kane was sin-binned late in the game for Ulster as their challenge to win the game faltered late on.
Tries: Carty, Kelleher 2, Connolly
Cons: Carty 2
Pens: Carty 2
Tries: Gilroy, Best, Payne
Cons: Jackson 2
Pens: Jackson 2
Yellow cards: Conor Carey (Connacht, 32); Ross Kane (Ulster, 74)
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Cian Kelleher, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Conor Carey, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Finlay Bealham.
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Ronan Loughney, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 James Connolly, 21 Stephen Kerins, 22 Shane O'Leary, 23 Stacey Ili.
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne (captain), 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Louis Ludik, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Clive Ross, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Pete Browne, 4 Robbie Diack, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Rory Best, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rob Herring, 17 Andrew Warwick, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Rob Lyttle.
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Dudley Phillips, Leo Colgan (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Edinburgh 45-10 Benetton Treviso
Hodge had promised Murrayfield a big performance and it looked as if he would prove true to his word when Hoyland touched down with four minutes gone. The Scotland wing was first to react to a loose ball from a ruck and stormed across the whitewash from some 70 yards out, with Welsh flyhalf Jason Tovey converting.
The hosts doubled up moments later, this time Chris Dean doing all the hard work with a superb break before Watson broke through the tackles to touch down. Tovey made it two conversions from two before the game settled down for a spell and crucially for Treviso, Tommaso Allan slotted a penalty to get them on the board.
But Hoyland piled the pain on the Italians on the half-hour with another smart finish and Tovey was on target for the third time with the extras. Hoyland was involved once more soon after, combining with Dean and Mike Allen before back row forward Bradbury was set free to race home from 60-metres out.
Tovey took his personal tally to eight with the conversion and suddenly Edinburgh were 26-3 to the good, which is how it stayed until half-time.
Treviso showed admirable spirit upon the restart and responded when Marco Fuser rumbled over four minutes into the half, Allan on target with the extras. It was only to be momentary respite for Treviso as a sumptuous Tovey miss pass opened up the space for Brown to dive over.
Edinburgh made a slew of replacements on the hour mark, including a first Edinburgh appearance for young prop Murray McCallum. The hosts' sixth try of the night also came through Brown and Tovey was the creator again, placing his cross-field kick where only his wing could reach it.
Tovey's kick then put Edinburgh 40 up before Kinghorn finished a flowing move to round off a morale-boosting night for the home side.
Tries: Hoyland 2, Watson, Bradbury, Brown 2, Kinghorn
Cons: Tovey 5
For Benetton Treviso:
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Michael Allen, 12 Chris Dean, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Nasi Manu, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Ewan McQuillin, 2 Ross Ford, 1 Rory Sutherland.
Replacements: 16 Stuart McInally, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Lewis Carmichael, 20 John Hardie, 21 Nathan Fowles, 22 Glenn Bryce, 23 Solomoni Rasolea.
Benetton Treviso: 15 Luke McLean, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Andrea Buondonno, 10 Tommaso Allan, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Marco Lazzaroni, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Filo Paulo, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Ornel Gega, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Luca Bigi, 17 Matteo Zanusso, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Filippo Gerosa, 20 Andrea Pratichetti, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 David Odiete.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Rhys (Thomas, Dunc McClement (Scotland)
TMO: Gareth Simmonds (Wales)
Ospreys 46-24 Cardiff Blues
Gareth Anscombe slotted over an early penalty for Cardiff Blues but Ospreys replied almost immediately through Sam Davies off the tee. The Ospreys were penalised at the breakdown on the halfway line after 17 minutes, Anscombe found touch to bring his side back into the Ospreys 22.
And a great driving maul from the resulting line-out saw Kristian Dacey drive over, with Anscombe adding the extras.
The home side struggled to assert themselves against a pumped up Cardiff in the first quarter of the game. Dan Fish's kick was charged down inside his own 22 by Davies on 20 minutes. Referee Nigel Owens looked to the TMO for a potential off the ball tackle and Fish was sin-binned attempting to atone for his error.
Ospreys kicked to the corner from the resulting penalty and Welsh international Alun Wyn Jones was the lucky recipient from the resulting pressure as he burrowed his way over for his 100th point for his side. Davies added the extras to level things up.
And it could have gotten worse for Cardiff on 24 minutes but Davies missed his drop goal to put the Ospreys in the box seat. The Ospreys took further advantage of the extra man, as Eli Walker found space on the right to dive over on 27 minutes but Davies missed the conversion.
Walker then scored his second try of the night for the now rampant Ospreys. Dan Evans gathered a deep kick and broke to give the Ospreys a good platform, with the ball shipped wide to Walker to score and Davies added the extras to make it 22-10.
And the Ospreys sealed the bonus point, with Dimitri Arhip crossing the whitewash to make the score 27-10 but Davies hit the woodwork with his conversion.
Ospreys extended their lead on 41 minutes as Ben John was awarded a score from close range via the TMO, with Davies adding the extras. Just four minutes later the Ospreys added their sixth score of the game as Dan Evans crossed, with Davies this time missing the conversion to leave the score at 39-10.
Tom James pulled a score back for Cardiff after the hour mark, with Anscombe adding a conversion for the Blues. But the comeback was short-lived as Josh Matavesi scored the Ospreys' seventh try, with Dan Biggar extending the score to 46-17.
Reynold Lee-Lo went over for another late score for Cardiff to soften the blow of their heavy defeat, with Anscombe adding the extras off the tee.
Tries: Jones, Walker 2, Arhip, John, Evans, Matavesi
Cons: Davies 3, Biggar
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Dacey, James, Lee-Lo
Cons: Anscombe 3
Yellow card: Dan Fish (Cardiff Blues, 20)
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Ben John, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 James King, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (captain), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Rory Thornton, 20 Dan Lydiate, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Dan Biggar, 23 Ashley Beck.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Dan Fish, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Ellis Jenkins, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Josh Turnbull, 4 Macauley Cook, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Gethin Jenkins (captain).
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Rhys Gill, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 James Down, 20 Cam Dolan, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Gareth Newman (Wales)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)