Drop-Goal hands Munster a win
PRO12 FRIDAY WRAP: Rory Scannell’s late drop-goal secured Munster a dramatic 15-14 win over Ulster at Kingspan Stadium.
The win ensures the club go above their provincial rivals Ulster and back into the PRO12 top four.
In other matches on Friday, Glasgow Warriors moved top of the Pro12 table with a 31-14 bonus-point win over Benetton Treviso at Scotstoun.
And Zebre stunned Edinburgh as they recorded their first ever Pro12 win in Scotland with a 19-14 win. While Scarlets recorded a fourth Pro12 win in a row as they secured a 26-15 bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues in an absorbing Welsh derby at BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park.
We take a look at Friday's action!
Ulster 14-15 Munster
First half tries from Charles Piutau – his first for the club – and Rob Lyttle opened up a 14-0 first half lead for the hosts who came into the game sitting top of the PRO12 standings. But Rory Scannell went over for Munster – who dominated huge swathes of this clash – in first half stoppage time to trim the gap.
Jaco Taute then crossed in the second half for the visitors but it looked like Ian Keatley’s misfiring boot would cost the away side.
The flyhalf – Munster’s hero with a late penalty in this same fixture in January – missed three kicks at a goal and a drop goal and Ulster were clinging on to a 14-12 win as time ticked down.
But up stepped man of the match Scannell to slot a fine drop goal with five minutes remaining and although Jackson came agonisingly close with a drop goal of his own in the last two minutes, it drifted wide and Munster held on.
The home side came roaring out of the blocks and had the game’s first try inside five minutes. Jackson’s kick to the corner was well batted down by Craig Gilroy despite the attention of two Munster defenders and Piutau was on hand to collect the loose ball and dart over for the score.
Jackson added the extras for a 7-0 lead but for the next half an hour that was as good as it got for the hosts as Munster turned the screw. But Keatley’s misfiring right foot failed to make the most of a forceful visiting pack that established both territory and possession.
The flyhalf missed a drop goal and dragged a penalty horribly wide in the first quarter and the Ulster defence held firm. They had to make do without Darren Cave who went off injured forcing a backline reshuffle as Piutau moved to outside centre and Gilroy to fullback.
But on a rare foray into the Munster half however, the home side grabbed their second try around the half-hour mark.
A kickable penalty went to the corner and although Munster withstood the driving lineout they hadn’t counted on winger Lyttle. On as an injury replacement for Cave, the youngster wriggled through three Munster tacklers to dive over under the posts and with Jackson’s extras the home side had a flattering 14-0 lead.
But as the clock ticked into the red at end of first half the visitors finally got their reward as Scannell went over in the right corner. Keatley compounded a poor half by dragging the extras wide and Ulster led 14-5 at the break.
Keatley’s second half didn’t look like it was going to be much better than the first as he smacked a penalty against the post to keep Ulster nine points in front.
And as the heavens opened, the game tightened up and neither side could find a breakthrough as the hour mark approached. But Munster kept coming, picking and going around the corner and eventually the dam broke as Taute cut a hard line to roll over and dot down their second try.
Rory Scannell took over the kicking duties and duly slotted the conversion and the home side’s lead had been trimmed to just 14-12 with a quarter of an hour remaining. Ulster then wasted the chance to immediately respond when Jackson dragged a penalty wide and it stayed a two-point game into the final ten minutes.
Scannell then held his nerve while Jackson – the drop-goal hero last weekend in Europe on the same ground – saw his effort drift just wide.
Tries: Piutau, Lyttle
Cons: Jackson 2
Tries: Scannell, Taute
Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Darren Cave, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Franco van der Merwe, 4 Dan Tuohy, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring (c), 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Andy Warwick, 19 Clive Ross, 20 Conor Joyce, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Brett Herron, 23 Jacob Stockdale.
Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue, 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 Vincent O'Brien, 17 Brian Scott, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Darren O'Shea, 20 Robin Copeland, 21 Abriel Griesel, 22 Alex Wootton, 23 Dan Goggin.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)
Cardiff Blues 15-26 Scarlets
An open first half saw Scarlets notch three tries – Aaron Shingler, Jonathan Evans and DTH van der Merwe all dotting down – to their hosts’ one through Tom James.
Hadleigh Parkes then appeared to put the visitors out of sight shortly after the interval and despite Blaine Scully’s spectacular finish giving the Blues a glimmer of hope, they ultimately suffered a third Pro12 defeat in a row for the first time since November 2015.
It was the visitors who got the perfect start on seven minutes as Rhys Patchell’s dangerous, hanging cross-field kick against his old club earned the Scarlets an attacking line-out and after seven phases of persistent pressure, Shingler used his powerful frame to barrel forward and stretch out to dot down.
Patchell duly added the conversion and did the same three minutes later as Scarlets crossed again – van der Merwe superbly scooping up and darting from the base of a ruck before offloading out the back of his hand for Evans to canter over.But barely two minutes after that score, a back-and-forth passage of play ended with the hosts going over to narrow the deficit to 14-7.
A knock-on in the visiting 22 looked to have ended the Blues’ chances of a score as the Scarlets countered with pace but a loose John Barclay pass was gleefully intercepted by James, who sauntered over for his 40th Pro12 try.
The breathless nature of the derby continued and with both teams adventurously flinging the ball about, it was no surprise when another interception led to the game’s fourth score on 22 minutes.
Aled Thomas plucked Steve Shingler’s pass out of the air in his own 22 and reached halfway before passing to speedster van der Merwe to do the rest, the Canadian jogging clear to seemingly put the visitors on course for a fourth successive Pro12 win at 21-7 ahead.
And they held that lead until half-time thanks to some superb last-ditch defending, with the Blues spending the final ten minutes of the half camped in the Scarlets 22 but ultimately leaving pointless.
Danny Wilson’s men needed to score first after the break but instead, with just 40 seconds on the clock, Scarlets wrapped up the four-try bonus point. Patchell’s dummy pass enabled him to burst through a hole in the defence on halfway and he feinted past fullback Matthew Morgan before offloading to Parkes for the score, although the missed conversion ended Patchell’s 100 percent record from the tee.
Steve Shingler’s 46th-minute penalty narrowed the gap to 26-10 and when Will Boyde was sent to the sin-bin with 25 minutes left, the Blues had a glorious chance to get themselves back in contention.
They did just that as Scully collected a bouncing pass on the right and went airborne to avoid going into touch, acrobatically dotting down in the corner. Shingler’s conversion attempt sailed just wide and despite Aaron Shingler getting yellow-carded for the Scarlets soon after, the Blues couldn’t close the gap any further as they suffered a third league loss in a row.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Scully, James
Tries: Van der Merwe, Parkes, Shingler, Evans
Cons: Patchell 3
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Blaine Scully, 13 Cory Allen, 12 Rey Lee-Lo, 11 Tom James, 10 Steve Shingler, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Cam Dolan, 7 Josh Turnbull (captain), 6 Macauley Cook, 5 James Down, 4 George Earle, 3 Taufa'ao Filise, 2 Kirby Myhill, 1 Rhys Gill.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Brad Thyer, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Seb Lewis, 20 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 21 Lloyd Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Dan Fish.
Scarlets: 15 Aled Thomas, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (captain), 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 John Barclay, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Tom Price, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Dylan Evans, 18 Peter Edwards, 19 Lewis Rawlins, 20 James Davies, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Dan Jones, 23 Ioan Nicholas.
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Cammy Rudkin (Scotland), Dai Cambourne (Wales)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Ireland)
Edinburgh 14-19 Zebre
Giovanbattista Vendetti's late try made history as the Italians recorded their first win after eight previous visits to the Scotland.
The unerring boot of Carlo Canna and some resilient defence had given Zebre a 12-0 lead with half an hour remaining but a pair of converted front row tries – from Ross Ford and Murray McCallum – looked to have got Edinburgh out of jail.
However, Venditti’s score broke their hearts and snapped a three-game winning streak in the process.
Zebre may have suffered five consecutive PRO12 defeats to start the season but they started strongly at BT Murrayfield, continuous pressure yielding a penalty in front of the posts which Canna duly converted.
The Italians’ defense then stepped up to deny Edinburgh a quick response, winning the turnover ball in their own 22 on multiple occasions.
With the hard running of Viliame Mata and the searching kicks of Jason Tovey and Damien Hoyland, it appeared to be only a matter of time before the hosts got on the scoreboard but Zebre consistently cleared their lines.
And they got even more respite on 26 minutes as Canna slotted another three-pointer from in front of the posts to double the lead.
Edinburgh spurned an opportunity to halve the deficit seven minutes before the break, opting to boot a kickable penalty to the corner before coming up short in search of a try. Instead, the Italian outfit promptly went down the other end and Canna nailed three more points for a 9-0 half-time lead.
The hosts looked certain to score just after the half-time interval following a great break from Phil Burleigh and nice work from Mata but Allan Dell knocked on at the line.
And they were again punished as the boot of Canna did more damage to extend the advantage to 12-0, before the Italian international lost his perfect record from the tee on 52 minutes as he failed to bisect the posts with his fifth attempt.
Edinburgh got themselves back in the contest with 18 minutes remaining as Ford was the beneficiary of an inexorable driving maul and Blair Kinghorn nailed the tricky touchline conversion.
Relentless play at the breakdown then culminated in McCallum powering his way over the line for his first Edinburgh try and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne’s extras gave the hosts their maiden lead of the game on 68 minutes. However, with just two minutes left, an interception attempt failed and Zebre countered for the pivotal try – Venditti crossing the whitewash and Canna slotting the conversion for a famous victory, their first away win in any competition since beating Worcester Warriors in the European Challenge Cup back in February.
Tries: Ford, McCallum
Cons: Kinghorn, Hidalgo-Clyne
Pens: Canna 4
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Damien Hoyland, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Sean Kennedy, 8 Magnus Bradbury, 7 John Hardie, 6 Viliame Mata, 5 Grant Gilchrist (captain), 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Felipe Arregui, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Allan Dell.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Jack Cosgrove, 18 Murray McCallum, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Cornell du Preez, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Michael Allen, 23 Glenn Bryce.
Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Andries van Schalkwyk, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Maxime Mbandà, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 Pietro Ceccarelli, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Matteo Pratichetti, 23 Giovanni D'Onofrio.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Emanuele Tomo (Italy), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
Glasgow Warriors 31-14 Benetton Treviso
Rory Hughes showed real class as he bagged a double in his team's win.
Jonny Gray, Mark Bennett, Hughes and Alex Dunbar all crossed for Gregor Townsend’s side in the first half as they wrapped up the four-try bonus point.
The Italians had a penalty try to show for their efforts in the first half – Dunbar also sent to the sin-bin – but the Scots looked ruthless in attack.
And when the man of the match Hughes crossed for his second soon after half-time it looked like the Scottish side might turn the screw and pull away.
However, the Italians – without a win on their travels since the 2012/13 season – refused to buckle and hit back with a Davide Giazzon score shortly after the hour mark while Glasgow debutant Langilangi Haupeakui was in the sin bin.
And the USA international then saw red late on when he received a second yellow for a no-arms tackle to end the match on a sour note for the hosts.
The Warriors have now won their last ten matches against Treviso, whilst the Italian’s most recent success in Scotland was when they beat Edinburgh at BT Murrayfield back in 2012.
So it was of surprise to few that the Warriors came storming out of the blocks and should have had the game’s first try as early as the second minute.Stuart Hogg collected a clever chip to dive over in the left corner but the TMO spotted that the fullback had grounded the ball before the line and then knocked it on before crossing it.
But that was a temporary stay of execution for Italians as wave after wave of pressure on the try line eventually told in the ninth minute when Gray muscled over from close range. Their second try was not far behind either, a lineout move released Dunbar through the middle and then Bennett cut a fabulous arcing line from left to right to stutter over in the right corner.
Russell could not convert this time but at 12-0 the writing appeared to be on the wall for the visitors. They needed the next score and it duly arrived, with a bit of luck thrown in. Dean Budd made the break but appeared to have delayed the offload to Alberto Sgarbi too long but the pass cannoned off the centre’s legs and over the try line.
There appeared to be only one winner in the race to the line with Sgarbi certain to score but Dunbar was already committed to the tackle and referee David Wilkinson had little choice but to yellow card the Scotland centre and award a penalty try.
With the simple conversion from Ian McKinley the visitors were within touching distance at 12-7 with a man advantage. But Townsend’s men came again and despite their numerical disadvantage summoned their third try of the half just before the half-hour mark.
Hughes was the man to go over this time, cutting back onto Henry Pyrgos’ inside ball to coast over under the posts. And before the break, the Warriors had their bonus point and it was Dunbar, back from ten minutes in the sin bin, who collected a loose ball and shrugged off three tacklers to go over.
Russell’s tough conversion bisected the posts as well and at the break, Glasgow were 26-7 to the good.
It did not take long after the break for the Warriors to grab a fifth –and it was Hughes again going over in the left corner after Hogg expertly exploited an overlap to release him.
But thereafter the Warriors lost their rhythm after emptying the bench and it was a debut to forget for Haupeakui who received two yellow cards – either side of Giazzon’s score at the back of a driving maul.
It was not the way Townsend would have wanted the game to end but they are top of the standings and well placed to challenge for the title they won for the first time in 2015.
Tries: Gray, Bennett, Hughes 2, Dunbar
Cons: Russell 3
Tries: Penalty Try, Giazzon
Cons: McKinley, Allan
Red Card: Haupeakui (Glasgow Warriors,79)
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Henry Pyrgos (cc), 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Josh Strauss, 5 Jonny Gray (cc), 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Alex Allan
Replacements: 16 Corey Flynn, 17 Djustice Sears-Duru, 18 D'Arcy Rae, 19 Brian Alainu'uese, 20 Langilangi Haupeakui, 21 Ali Price, 22 Pete Horne, 23 Lee Jones
Treviso: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 David Odiete, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Andrea Pratichetti, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Abraham Steyn, 7 Alessandro Zanni (c), 6 Dean Budd, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Filippo Gerosa, 3 Simone Ferrari, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Tiziano Pasquali, 19 Francesco Minto, 20 Marco Barbini, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Tommaso Allan, 23 Angelo Esposito
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Kevin White (Scotland)
TMO: Kevin Beggs (Ireland)