Quick fire double sends Ospreys second
PRO12 SUNDAY WRAP: Ospreys climbed to second on the table as two tries in two second-half minutes saw them come from behind to seal a 26-15 bonus-point victory over Glasgow Warriors at Liberty Stadium.
Both sides came into the match on the back of defeats last weekend, and it was Ospreys who responded best as scores from Tyler Ardron and Kieron Fonotia helped them overturn a one-point deficit midway through the second period.
The Welsh hosts had raced into an early lead through Keelan Giles' 12th try of the campaign and a Josh Matavesi effort but Glasgow responded through Corey Flynn and Peter Murchie, to edge 15-14 in front. However, Ardron and Fonotia both completed impressive team moves to give Ospreys a first season double over their Scottish opponents since the 2008-09 campaign.
Meanwhile, Connacht claimed an impressive bonus-point victory as they powered to a 34-19 success over Benetton Treviso at the Stadio Monigo. Tiernan O'Halloran scored the bonus-point try on the hour as Connacht went 34-5 up, and despite two late tries from the home side, it was a comfortable victory for the defending champions.
Elsewhere, Jacob Stockdale scored his seventh try of the season as Ulster edged closer to the top four with a 40-17 victory over Zebre at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. Chris Henry went over from a driving maul before the exhilarating pair of Stockdale and Charles Piutau sent Ruan Pienaar flying over for a 14-0 lead in as many minutes.
But Guglielmo Palazzani stepped up to the plate with a converted try and a penalty to take Zebre within four points at the turn, though Stuart Olding's try five minutes into the second period swung momentum back in Ulster's favour.
Mattia Bellini pulled another try back but after Jared Payne made his return just after the hour, Robbie Diack barged over thanks to some more Piutau magic. Academy player David Busby scored a sixth right at the death as Ulster moved within five of fourth-place Scarlets with a game in hand.
All Sunday's scores and scorers!
Benetton Treviso 19-34 Connacht
Connacht made a quick start and took the lead on 15 minutes with a Craig Ronaldson penalty and he followed it with a second soon after to stretch the lead to 6-0. Just before the half-hour they made the breakthrough with Caolin Blade slicing through after O'Halloran had initially put them in good position with a good run.
Ronaldson converted and was on target again four minutes later when Finlay Bealham had gone over. The tighthead showed his athleticism to sprint over from 10 metres out after a good break from Niyi Adeolokun.
Trailing 0-20, Treviso needed a response and got one from wing Andrea Buondonno. He went over on the left-hand side, although the conversion was off-target.
The second half started with Connacht still on top, Jack Carty playing a delightful grubber through for Ronaldson to dot down. He converted his own score to make it 27-5.
And then it was the turn of O'Halloran on the hour, who sealed the five points, as he went over following an intercept from Adeolokun. Carty had taken over the kicking duties by this point and added the extras, but it was the home side who finished the stronger.
They closed out with two converted tries, the first coming from fullback Luca Sperandio who showed all his pace to sprint away and over the line. Scrumhalf Tito Tebaldi added the extras for Benetton.
And then with five minutes remaining, Andrea Pratichetti went over for a third Treviso try, with first half try-scorer Buondonno converting.
The home side had five minutes remaining to grab a try bonus point of their own, but they couldn't manage it as Connacht held out.
For Benetton Treviso:
Tries: Buondonno, Sperandio, Odiete
Cons: Buondonno, Tebaldi
Tries: Ronaldson, Blade, Bealham, O'Halloran
Cons: Ronaldson 3, Carty
Pens: Ronaldson 2
Benetton Treviso: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Michael Tagicakibau, 13 Tommaso Iannone, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Andrea Buondonno, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Francesco Minto, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Dean Budd, 4 Teofilo Paulo, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani
Replacements: 16 Roberto Santamaria, 17 Matteo Zanusso, 18 Mark Irving, 19 Luca Nostran, 20 Filippo Ferrarini, 21 Enrico Francescato, 22 Andrea Pratichetti, 23 David Odiete
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O'Halloran, 14 Niyi Adeolokun, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Danie Poolman, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 John Muldoon (captain), 7 Nepia Fox-Matamua, 6 Sean O'Brien, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Shane Delahunt, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 JP Cooney, 18 John Andress, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Naulia Dawai, 21 John Cooney, 22 Tom Farrell, 23 Stacey Ili
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies (Wales), Guiseppe Vivarini (Italy)
Ospreys 26-15 Glasgow Warriors
It was Ospreys' young star Giles who opened the scoring on nine minutes. Dan Evans found Dafydd Howells and he fed the 19-year-old phenom, who demonstrated his blazing pace to race over the whitewash from outside the 22 and Luke Price adding the extras.
The Welsh side continued to dominate the territory and 7-0 became 14-0 on 21 minutes as the impressive Ashley Beck made another initial burst into the 22 and, a few passes later, Matavesi found the gap to bundle over.
Price was again successful from the tee but Glasgow produced an almost instant response as they capitalised on an Ospreys knock-on in their own 22 to feed Flynn, who pushed his way across the whitewash.
Brandon Thomson nailed the conversion and, as the conditions became increasingly unhelpful for running rugby, the South African flyhalf elected to take the points when Warriors were awarded a 46th-minute penalty to narrow the deficit to 14-10.
And they led for the first time with 30 minutes remaining when Murchie finished off some exquisite build-up play, which had started with a scintillating Rory Hughes break deep into the Ospreys 22.
But Steve Tandy's troops have not lost successive matches at the Liberty Stadium since October 2015 and a quick fire try double midway through the second period ensured that record would remain intact.
Firstly, Canadian back row forward Ardron charged over the line underneath the posts to give the hosts the lead once again, before Fonotia collected a gorgeous kick through and dotted down to establish an 11-point advantage, wrapping up the four-try bonus point in the process.
At 15-26 behind, the Warriors put concerted pressure on the Ospreys defence but the hosts held firm to leapfrog Munster in the standings.
Tries: Giles, Matavesi, Ardron, Fonotia
Cons: Price 3
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Flynn, Murchie
Ospreys: 15 Dan Evans, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Hanno Dirksen, 10 Luke Price, 9 Brendon Leonard (captain), 8 Dan Baker, 7 Olly Cracknell, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 Rory Thornton 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Hugh Gustafson, 1 Paul James
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Rhodri Jones, 19 James King, 20 Sam Underhill, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Kieron Fonotia, 23 Dafydd Howells
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Junior Bulumakau, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Peter Horne (captain), 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Grayson Hart, 8 Lewis Wynne, 7 Matt Smith, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Brian Alainu'uese, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D'arcy Rae, 19 Tjiuee Uanivi, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Nemia Kenatale, 22 Richie Vernon, 23 Ratu Tagive
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), (Wales)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)
Zebre 17-40 Ulster
Henry powered over from a maul after seven minutes as Ulster made the perfect start, with Pienaar picking up where he left off against Glasgow with an immaculate touchline conversion.
Stockdale and Piutau combined seven minutes later to send Pienaar over for another fine try, Stockdale finding the All Black with a lovely offload to send him haring away and shifting the ball to the Springbok scrumhalf to cross.
Pienaar was again on target from the tee, but Zebre found the perfect reply through Palazzani, the 25-year-old crossing three minutes later before converting his own try to pull them in touch at 14-7.
And it was Palazzani who struck again from the tee just before half-time to pull the hosts right back into contention at 14-10.
Ulster though, repeated their lightning start of the first period, Olding barreling over within five minutes and Pienaar adding the extras as Kiss' men accelerated. Stockdale opted for a plum line off Pienaar to bust over, with the Springbok converting for a 28-10 lead.
Undimmed by Ulster's two-try salvo, Zebre hit back with a superbly taken Bellini try. Palazzani adding the extras to edge them closer at 28-17.
Piutau's sensational footwork set up Diack for a fifth Ulster try with 10 minutes left, Pienaar continuing his exemplary kicking form with a fifth successful conversion before Busby added further gloss late on.
Tries: Palazzani, Bellini
Cons: Palazzani 2
Tries: Henry, Pienaar, Olding, Stockdale, Diack, Busby
Cons: Pienaar 5
Zebre: 15 Dion Berryman, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Lloyd Greeff, 10 Serafin Bordoli, 9 Guglielmo Palazzani, 8 Federico Ruzza, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Dennis Bergamin, 5 Valerio Bernabò (captain), 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Guillermo Roan, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Bruno Postiglioni
Replacements: 16 Sidney Tobias, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Bartholomeus Le Roux, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Davide Fragnito, 21 Carlo Engelbrecht, 22 Tommaso Castello, 23 Simone Balocchi
Ulster: 15 Jacob Stockdale, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart Olding, 11 Charles Piutau, 10 Peter Nelson, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Marcel Coetzee, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Clive Ross, 5 Alan O'Connor, 4 Robbie Diack, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Andrew Warwick
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Callum Black, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Jared Payne, 23 David Busby
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)