Leinster beat rivals Munster
PRO12 SATURDAY WRAP: Isa Nacewa grabbed a double as Leinster moved to second of the PRO12 table with a 25-14 victory over fierce rivals Munster at Aviva Stadium in Dublin.
Leo Cullen’s men have now won seven of their last eight meetings at home while Munster’s poor recent record against fellow Irish provinces continues.
*In the other Saturday matches the defending champions Glasgow Warriors fought hard to secure a 33-28 victory over Zebra, while Scarlets edge past Newport Dragons in a 31-27 win.
We take a look at Saturday matches!
Leinster 25-14 Munster
Skipper Peter O’Mahony crossed for the visitors in the first half and they had plenty of opportunities but Leinster were too clinical with Nacewa their tormentor in chief.
The wing finished with a try in each half while scrumhalf Jamison Gibson-Park also crossed in the second period for the boys in blue.
Munster – who have started this season in impressive fashion – have now only won one of their last six clashes against Irish opposition but did get a late consolation through Jaco Taute.
It was the home side who hit the front from the outset, two Jonathan Sexton penalties in the first ten minutes opening up a 6-0 lead.
Either side of those kicks Leinster came agonisingly close to the first try of the game when Gary Ringrose and Sexton combined to release Nacewa down the left but the wing was collared by a superb try-saving tackle by Simon Zebo.
Despite the scoreline, the majority of the rugby in the first quarter was actually played by Munster – muscular carries through the middle creating inroads.
And eventually, their pressure told as skipper O’Mahony – in his first start for his province since May of last year – went over at the back of a rolling maul.
Tyler Bleyendaal added the extras to put the Red Army in front at 7-6 but Leinster nearly responded immediately.
Sexton’s clever kick in behind released Ringrose who seemed certain to score but the young centre knocked on with the try-line at his mercy.
That miss did not prove too costly however as Leinster did get their try before the break, Nacewa making up for his earlier wasted chance to go over in the left corner after quick hands from Luke McGrath and Sexton had released him.
The flyhalf missed with the extras, however, so the home side went into the break with an 11-7 lead.
Munster made early changes in the second half to their pack – skipper O’Mahony withdrawn for Jack O’Donoghue.
But it was another replacement in James Cronin who nearly got their second try – the prop only denied by the TMO for a double movement as the Munster pack turned the screw.
But having spent most of the first ten minutes trapped in their own half, Leinster turned the tide and struck with real ruthlessness.
Ringrose made the initial incision down the right and when the ball was spread left Nacewa again had a simple run in off a Rob Kearney pass.
This time, Sexton did add the extras and at 18-7 in front before the hour mark Leinster looked home and hosed.
And not long afterwards they had a third try, a clever kick in behind from debutant Robbie Henshaw sparking chaos in the Munster backline. Ronan O’Mahony and Bleyendaal both failed to ground the ball and replacement scrum-half Gibson-Park was on hand to dot down.
Nacewa slotted the extras for Leinster as Sexton was withdrawn and while Zebo fed Taute late on for a consolation the damage was done as Leinster went top of the standings.
Tries: Nacewa 2, Gibson-Park
Cons: Sexton, Nacewa
Pens: Sexton 2
Tries: O’Mahony, Taute
Cons: Bleyendaal, Keatley
Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Rory O’Loughlin, 13 Garry Ringrose, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Isa Nacewa (c), 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Jordi Murphy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Cian Healy
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Jack McGrath, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Ross Molony, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Joey Carbery, 23 Noel Reid
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O’Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Niall Scannell, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Duncan Casey, 17 James Cronin, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Robin Copeland, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Jaco Taute
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Stuart Gaffikin, Richard Kerr (both Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Zebre 28-33 Glasgow Warriors
Leonardo Sarto scored against his former side as Glasgow Warriors battled to their fourth PRO12 victory of the season in a hard-fought 33-28 encounter against Zebre in Italy.
The Italian international dotted down soon after the restart following superb work by Nick Grigg, with the centre delivering a masterclass to play his part in three tries in the Warriors’ bonus-point success.
Sean Lamont was also on hand to score twice, but the 2014/15 PRO12 champions far from had the situation their own way against a side who had not beaten them in eight previous encounters in the competition.
But despite their wretched record, it was Zebre who started on the front foot, playing through the phases to eventually catch the visitors offside as Carlo Canna kicked for the early lead.
It wasn’t to last long, however, with Lee Jones haring down the wing, halted in his tracks to find Lamont on hand to dot down with less than ten minutes played.
Despite their lead, Glasgow will have considered themselves far from their fluent best with a number of penalties conceded, Canna making the most of the opportunity to put the hosts 6-5 to the good.
It made for a rather end-to-end encounter as Rory Clegg kicked twice from in front of the posts to restore a Warriors lead, but once again Zebre made the most of a kick-off, hooker Oliviero Fabiani eventually showing great footwork to manoeuvre his way over and level the game.
It seemed as if the game would be on terms by the break, but fantastic work from Grigg saw the centre run from 90 metres from his own 22. He was eventually tackled, but with the Italian defence regrouping, Fraser Brown touched down in the corner for a seven-point lead after a conversion.
It gave the Warriors a head of steam heading into the second half, the momentum they made the most of, counter-attacking to good effect as Lamont scored his second of the afternoon, courtesy of another Grigg offload.
Despite a 14-point deficit, Zebre were far from out of the game, but it was a former player who came back to haunt them as Sarto raced down the left wing to score.
Grigg was once again the architect, profiting from a quick penalty to stretch the defence before Sarto mopped up against the side he enjoyed four Guinness PRO12 years until the summer, securing the bonus point in the process.
And the breathless second half showed no signs of letting up, with replacement Thomas Boni putting through a neat grubber for Venditti to collect and run home to make it 18-30 heading into the last quarter.
Rob Harley was sent to the sin-bin for pulling down the line-out as Zebre kept pushing, but a strong Glasgow defence kept the difference at a vital 12 points as the clock ticked away for the Italians.
Their pressure eventually told though as Andries van Schalkwyk ran through, and with a successful conversion making it a five-point encounter, a frantic finish was in store.
However, Zebre were not able to get their first win of the PRO12 season, Clegg kicking the decisive penalty to seal a ninth successive win over their Italian counterparts for Glasgow.
Tries:Fabiani, Venditti, Van Schalkwyk
Cons: Canna 2
Pens: Canna 3
Tries: Lamont 2, Brown, Sarto
Cons: Clegg 2
Pens: Clegg 3
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Kayle Van Zyl, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 Joshua Furno, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Carlo Festuccia, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Quintin Geldenhuys, 20 Federico Ruzza, 21 Marcello Violi, 22 Tommaso Boni, 23 Lloyd Greeff
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Sean Lamont, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Rory Clegg, 9 Ali Price, 8 Ryan Wilson (captain), 7 Fraser Brown, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Robert McAlpine, 4 Robert Harley, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Gordon Reid
Replacements: 16 James Malcolm, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 Zander Fagerson, 19 Callum Hunter-Hill, 20 Matt Fagerson, 21 Grayson Hart, 22 Stuart Hogg, 23 Leonardo Sarto
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Cammy Rudkin (Scotland), Andrea Spadoni (Italy)
Scarlets 31-27 Newport-Gwent Dragons
Steff Evans notched a try-double as the Scarlets survived a scare at the hands of Newport Gwent Dragons to bring up a bonus-point victory and their third win on the bounce.
The Dragons were looking to snap a three-game PRO12 losing streak and despite Evans’ early try, roared into the lead through Hallam Amos and Adam Warren’s try-double.
Ominously for the Dragons, Liam Williams responded for Scarlets before the break, and Jonathan Evans and Steff Evans then put the hosts firmly back in control heading into the final quarter.
To their credit the Dragons did not wave the white flag and a converted try for Sarel Pretorius meant there were just four points in it, but it was not to be for the visitors.
In the last of the ‘Big Weekend’ match-ups, Evans brought Parc y Scarlets to its feet four minutes in as he scythed through the Dragons defence to complete a superb try, converted by Rhys Patchell.
The Dragons showed their intent when they opted for the corner after winning a penalty, which ultimately came to nothing.
But their positive attitude paid off in the 13th minute as Wales flyer Amos squeezed over in the corner, and Nick Macleod levelled the scores with a fine touchline conversion.
Dragons then leaned on Macleod again ten minutes later as the former Sale Sharks fly-half struck another excellent kick to put the visitors up by three points.
The momentum was well and truly with the Dragons on the half-hour mark as Amos turned provider with a sumptuous kick over Scarlets heads into the path of Warren for the try. The conversion was wide to leave the score at 15-7.
But Warren heaped more woe on the Scarlets soon after as he crossed again upon verification from the TMO. Angus O’Brien, on as a replacement for Macleod, could not convert.
Crucially for the Scarlets they responded almost immediately through Wales fullback Williams and were back to within a score when Patchell made the extras.
O’Brien missed the chance to extend the Dragons’ lead back out to nine points as they went in at half-time 20-14 to the good.
Scarlets first began to claw back the deficit when Dragons were pinged for offside and Patchell pushed a penalty through the posts.
And with an hour gone, the turnaround was complete as Scarlets made good use of line-out ball and Jonathan Evans slipped his way through and over the whitewash.
The Dragons’ resistance was then broken for good moments later, Steff Evans grabbing both his try-double and the try-bonus point for the home side. With Patchell’s conversion, suddenly Scarlets were boasting an 11-point lead.
As befitting this see-saw match back came the Dragons with ten minutes to go, Pretorius conjuring a break before racing under the sticks. O’Brien’s conversion cut the lead down to four.
But to the relief of the home crowd Scarlets made it across the line to ensure they head into the European break on a high note.
Tries: Evans 2, Williams
Cons: Pathcell 4
For Newport-Gwent Dragons:
Tries: Amos, Warren 2, Pretorius
Cons: Macleod, O'Brien
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Aled Davies, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (captain), 1 Wyn Jones
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 John Barclay, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Steff Hughes
Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Pat Howard, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Nick Macleod, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Ed Jackson, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (captain), 5 Cory Hill, 4 Nick Crosswell, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Rhys Buckley, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Darran Harris, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ollie Griffiths, 21 Sarel Pretorius, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Sam Beard
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Chris Williams (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)