Munster hold onto second spot

Sat, 08 Apr 2017 21:02
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PRO12 WRAP: Munster cemented their place in second spot on the Pro12 table, which brings with it homeground advantage in the play-offs.

Stuart Hogg scored a late try, but it was not enough for Glasgow Warriors as Munster held on to claim a vital 10-7 victory to move a step closer to the Pro12 semifinals.

* In other Saturday action Ross Byrne held his nerve to slot a last-gasp drop-goal as Leinster moved to within touching distance of the Pro12 play-offs with an 20-18 win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

* Zebre won back-to-back matches in the Pro12 for the first time since Christmas 2015 as they beat Newport Gwent Dragons 29-14.

* Ken Owens marked his 200th Scarlets appearance with a try as he helped his side climb into the Pro12 top four with an impressive 51-5, eight-try victory over Treviso at Parc y Scarlets.

We look at all the Saturday matches!

Munster 10-7 Glasgow Warriors

Stuart Hogg scored a late try but it was not enough for Glasgow Warriors as Munster held on to claim a vital 10-7 victory to move a step closer to the Pro12 semifinals.

James Cronin crossed early for the Irish side in a tense, low-scoring affair - but it was Glasgow who enjoyed possession for large parts of the first half without adding to the scoreboard.

Munster pushed for a vital try in the second half, but they squandered two golden opportunities.

And when Hogg crossed, it looked they would be made to pay, but some expert defending secured another major victory this season.

Munster had to do without key trio Keith Earls, Conor Murray and CJ Stander due to injury, but Ireland veteran Peter O'Mahony returned to the bench.

Meanwhile, Glasgow made three changes, with Nick Grigg, Ali Price and Sila Puafisi all coming into the side.

But it was the Irish team who hit the front early at a raucous Irish Independent Park as prop Cronin muscled his way over from a couple of yards out as the Munster pack battered the Glasgow defence.

Glasgow surged forwards, commanding territory and possession but they could not find a way through Munster's stern back line.

The hosts quickly went up the other end, but a dropped pass cost them a glorious chance of adding to their score.

Finn Russell and Hogg bombarded Muster with the high ball, but Andrew Conway was reliable underneath - as the hosts continued to deny the visitors try-scoring chances, even though Glasgow threw all they had towards the end of the half.

After the break, Munster thought they had added a second score when they drove forward menacingly from a five-metre scrum. But just as cheers went round the stadium, the referee blew for a Glasgow penalty.

The Warriors were hanging on as Munster flew forward, Jaco Taute supplying a perfectly-weighted pass for Ronan O'Mahony to cross in the corner - but the TMO ruled it out after reviewing O'Mahony's grounding.

Rory Scannell sent a penalty sailing through the posts minutes later though, increasing their lead to ten points.

But Glasgow got back into it as Hogg crossed after a delightful chip and chase.

However, that was as good as it got for the Warriors, as Munster closed out the game with some last-ditch defending.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Try: 
Cronin
Con: Bleyendaal
Pen: Scannell

For Glasgow Warriors:
Try:
 Hogg
Con: Russell

Teams:

Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Francis Saili, 12 Jaco Taute, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Tyler Bleyendaal, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Jack O'Donoghue, 7 Conor Oliver, 6 Jean Deysel, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Dave O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Niall Scannell, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 John Ryan, 19 Donnacha Ryan, 20 Peter O'Mahony, 21 Angus Lloyd, 22 Rory Scannell, 23 Simon Zebo.

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Alex Dunbar, 11 Lee Jones, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Ryan Wilson, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray (captain), 4 Brian Alainu'uese, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D'Arcy Rae, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Rory Hughes.

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)     
Assistant referees: Adam Jones (Wales), Paul Haycock (Ireland)
TMO: Neil Hennessy (Wales)

Ospreys 18-20 Leinster

Ross Byrne held his nerve to slot a last-gasp drop-goal as Leinster moved to within touching distance of the Pro12 play-offs with an 20-18 win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

Ross Byrne held his nerve to slot a last-gasp drop-goal as Leinster moved to within touching distance of the Pro12 play-offs with an 20-18 win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

On his 200th appearance for the Ospreys Dan Biggar could have won it with the final kick of the game after a late Leinster infringement, but he pushed his penalty attempt wide as Leinster held on.

Justin Tipuric's try looked set to give the Welsh side the perfect response to their European disappointment but Byrne stepped up with a minute to go to knock over the crucial drop-goal to win it.

The Ospreys had led earlier thanks to a Sam Davies try, and even after Leinster struck back thanks to scores from Sean Cronin and Dan Leavy, Tipuric responded to give the Ospreys the lead heading into the final seconds.

However they could not hold on, and instead Leinster stretch their lead at the top of the table with the Ospreys now looking over their shoulder in the race for a top four spot.

In just the third minute Leinster were penalised at scrum-time just inside the Leinster half, but Biggar's shot bounced off the post, allowing Leinster to clear their lines.

However it wasn't long before a clinical Ospreys line-out and some smooth hands put Sam Davies over in the corner, with Biggar unable to convert on his 200th appearance for the region.

After a great high ball from Davies, Leinster infringed at the breakdown allowing Biggar to go for goal - making no mistake this time.

Trailing 8-0, Leinster finally built some phases in the Ospreys half on 16 minutes and however Dan Baker, who was outstanding in the first half, turned the ball over and allowed the home side to clear their lines.

Eventually Leinster's pressure paid off, their backline put everything in place for hooker Sean Cronin to make an excellent break from 22 metres out, stepping his way past Biggar to the line. The conversion from Isa Nacewa was good, putting Leinster just a point behind.

After a kicking battle Leinster almost went in again, Jamison Gibson-Park just denied after Fergus McFadden's break and clever interplay with Devin Toner.

The visitors did take the lead for the first time five minutes before half-time however, Nacewa knocking over a penalty only for Biggar to hit back with the final kick of the half to give the Ospreys an 11-10 lead at the break.

Leinster burst out of the blocks in the second half, with replacement Dan Leavy, on for Jack Conan, putting them back in front.

It came after some pressure in the Ospreys 22, with Leavy proving unstoppable from close range with a pick and drive after Robbie Henshaw and Cronin had put them into position to score.

The Ospreys needed a response with their hopes of a home semifinal hanging in the balance, but they did just that as Justin Tipuric crossed on the hour.

Like Leavy, it came from close range, with Tipuric picking and driving over and Davies slotting the conversion in the absence of Biggar who was getting patched up.

Leinster could have gone back in front with just over ten minutes to go when Leavy forced a penalty from a turnover but Nacewa's effort drifted wide.

There was still time for plenty more excitement though, with Byrne putting Leinster back in front with a fine drop-goal from 35 metres out.

Still Ospreys came and they looked to have done enough to win it, but Biggar pushed his penalty attempt to the right.

They will now face a must-win clash against Cardiff Blues at Judgement Day next weekend as they look to end a run of three straight losses.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries:
 Davies, Tipuric
Con: Davies
Pens: Biggar 2

Leinster:
Tries:
 Cronin, Leavy
Cons: Nacewa 2
Pen: Nacewa
DG: Byrne

Teams:

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Josh Matavesi, 11 Dan Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Rhys Webb (captain), 8 Dan Baker, 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Lloyd Ashley, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Nicky Smith.
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Paul James, 18 Ma'afu Fia, 19 Bradley Davies, 20 Tyler Ardron, 21 Sam Underhill, 22 Tom Habberfield, 23 Jonathan Spratt.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa (captain), 14 Rory O'Loughlin, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Robbie Henshaw, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Joey Carbery, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Josh van der Flier, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Devin Toner, 3 Tadhg Furlong, 2 Seán Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Nick McCarthy, 22 Ross Byrne, 23 Dave Kearney.

Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)     
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Rob Price (Wales)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

Scarlets 51-5 Benetton Treviso

Ken Owens marked his 200th Scarlets appearance with a try as he helped his side climb into the Pro12 top four with an impressive 51-5, eight-try victory over Treviso at Parc y Scarlets.

Steffan Evans and DTH van der Merwe, twice, had already crossed the whitewash when Owens benefitted from an inexorable driving maul in the 24th minute to secure the Welsh region a four-try bonus point.

They didn't let up from there as Evans grabbed a second, Tom Price went over, van der Merwe completed his hat-trick and Aled Davies touched down – with Ornel Gega getting Treviso's lone points.

The victory means the Scarlets leapfrog Ulster into a play-off place with just three games remaining in the season, as they maintained an unbeaten home record in the Pro12 that stretches back to September.

Wayne Pivac's troops now have seven wins from their last eight PRO12 games and are hitting top form at just the right time, with the business end of the campaign beckoning.

It took just two minutes for Scarlets to earn the lead as Dan Jones converted from the tee after Treviso had been penalised at the breakdown.

And shortly after, 3-0 became 8-0 as a beautiful show-and-go from James Davies flummoxed the Italian defence and he then released van der Merwe to go over in the corner.

Evans got the second try on nine minutes as he collected Davies' precise kick through to dot down before van der Merwe opportunistically darted off the base of a ruck and turned on the afterburners to blitz through the Treviso defence and dive over.

Jones added his first conversion and Scarlets soon had the bonus point as Owens' 200th appearance became even more of a fairytale when the pack drove over the line and he touched down.

Owens and fellow front-rower Samson Lee then engineered a 34th-minute turnover in their own 22 and fed Evans who scorched 70 metres to make it 30-0, as it stayed until half-time.

Scarlets had won their last seven matches against Treviso heading into the match and scored try number six just two minutes after the break as Price was the beneficiary of some strong running and a spectacular offload from Hadleigh Parkes.

To their credit, Treviso did get on the board when Gega dotted down shortly after but the Welsh province were soon back to their try-scoring ways as van der Merwe completed his hat-trick with a tidy finish from close-range.

Treviso were down to 12 men by that point, as Federico Zani, Francesco Minto and Edoardo Gori were all sent to the sin-bin, and Aled Davies piled on the misery as he finished off a sweeping team move – Aled Thomas' conversion making it 51-5.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: 
Van der Merwe 3, Evans 2, Owens, Price, Davies
Cons: Jones 2, Thomas 2
Pen: Jones

For Benetton Treviso:
Try:
 Gega

Yellow cards: Federico Zani (Benetton Treviso, 59), Francesco Minto (Benetton Treviso, 62), Edoardo Gori (Benetton Treviso, 66),  Aled Davies (Scarlets, 77)

 

Teams:

 

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 DTH van der Merwe, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Tom Price, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Liam Williams.

Treviso: 15 David Odiete, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Luca Sperandio, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Robert Barbieri, 7 Marco Lazzaroni, 6 Francesco Minto, 5 Dean Budd (captain), 4 Filippo Gerosa, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Federico Zani.
Replacements: 16 Ornel Gega, 17 Alberto Porolli, 18 Simone Ferrari, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Teofilo Paulo, 21 Abraham Steyn, 22 Edoardo Gori, 23 Luke McLean.

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)    
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Jonathan Hardy (Wales)    
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)

Zebre 29-14 Newport Gwent Dragons

Zebre won back-to-back matches in the Pro12 for the first time since Christmas 2015 as they beat Newport Gwent Dragons 29-14.

Federico Ruzza and Derick Minnie crossed the whitewash in the first half with Edoardo Padovani and Johan Meyer securing the bonus point after the break.

Cory Hill and Adam Hughes touched down for the Dragons either side of half-time but the visitors were unable to match the Italians for much of the game.

The last six meetings between these two sides have now been won by the home side on the day with the Dragons winless in Parma since their first ever visit, back in February 2013.

Canna put the home side ahead early on with a successful penalty in the fourth minute as they looked to build on their victory over Connacht last weekend.

Second row Hill didn't take long to reply however as he put the Dragons into the lead when he crossed the whitewash with Angus O'Brien converting.

Ruzza had the hosts back in front with a try on 14 minutes but Canna missed the conversion before O'Brien also sent a penalty wide off the posts.

And it was the home side who extended their advantage when Minnie went over for Zebre's second try after pouncing on scrumhalf Marcello Violi's chip.

Canna added the extras to put the hosts 15-7 ahead at the break.

Adam Hughes scored a try on his 100th start for the Dragons to bring them right back into the game after just five minutes of the second half with O'Brien adding the conversion.

But it was 22-14 to Zebre soon after as man of the match Padovani broke from midfield for the Italian side's third try of the afternoon which Canna converted.

And the home team had the try bonus point with 53 minutes on the clock as Meyer made his way over with Canna once again adding the extra two points.

The Italians job of holding onto their lead became more difficult when replacement Serafin Bordoli was sent to the sin bin with 11 minutes left to play but Zebre held on.

The win is Zebre's third of the season and moves them off the bottom of the Pro12 table, above Benetton Treviso, and just two points behind the Dragons.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Tries:
 Ruzza, Minnie, Padovani, Meyer
Cons: Canna 3
Pen: Canna

For Newport Gwent Dragons:
Tries: 
Hill, Hughes
Cons: O'Brien 2

Yellow card: Serafin Bordoli (Zebre, 68)

Teams:

Zebre: 15 Edoardo Padovani, 14 Kayle Van Zyl, 13 Giulio Bisegni, 12 Tommaso Boni, 11 Lloyd Greeff, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Federico Ruzza, 7 Derick Minnie, 6 Johan Meyer, 5 George Biagi (captain), 4 Gideon Koegelenberg, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Tommaso D'Apice, 1 Andrea Lovotti.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Bruno Postiglioni, 18 Pietro Ceccarelli, 19 Joshua Furno, 20 Maxime Mbandà, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Tommaso Castello, 23 Serafin Bordoli.

Bewport Gwent Dragons: 15 Carl Meyer, 14 Adam Hughes, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Pat Howard, 10 Angus O'Brien, 9 Charlie Davies, 8 Lewis Evans (captain), 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Nick Crosswell, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Cory Hill, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Rhys Buckley, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Darran Harris, 17 Sam Hobbs, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Nic Cudd, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Dorian Jones, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Tom Prydie.

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O'Connell (Ireland), Matteo Liperini (Italy)     
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

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Team P W D L Pts
Munster 22 19 0 3 86
Leinster 22 18 0 4 85
Scarlets 22 17 0 5 77
Ospreys 22 14 0 8 69
Ulster 22 14 1 7 68
Glasgow Warriors 22 11 0 11 58
Cardiff Blues 22 11 1 10 53
Connacht 22 9 0 13 44
Edinburgh 22 6 0 16 31
Treviso 22 5 0 17 23
Dragons 22 4 0 18 23
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