Keatley keeps Munster on top
Keatley keeps Munster on topSHARE
Ian Keatley was the shining light in a scrappy Munster performance by the table-topping Irish outfit.
Keatley kicked all 18 points as the Irish region lay down the gauntlet to the rest of the Pro12 teams with an 18-14 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons.
* In other Friday action Scotland international Greig Laidlaw proved to be the match-winner as he kicked 23 points for Edinburgh, as Connacht were put to the sword at Murrayfield.
* DTH van der Merwe and Ryan Wilson were last-gasp heroes for Glasgow as the Warriors continued their recent hoodoo over a depleted-Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium, winning 28-16.
We look at all Friday's matches!
Edinburgh 43-10 Connacht
Scotland international Greig Laidlaw proved to be the match-winner as he kicked 23 points for Edinburgh as Connacht were put to the sword at Murrayfield.
It was the battle of Scotland goal-kickers past and present at Murrayfield as Edinburgh's Laidlaw and Connacht's Dan Parks went head-to-head off the kicking tee.
While Laidlaw seemed to kick everything that moved to drag his side back into the game after a shaky start, Parks suffered a difficult evening as he missed several kicks at goal before being replaced just before the hour.
Alan Solomons' Edinburgh has won their last three home games and it was easy to see why in the opening minutes as they started like an express train and took a third minute lead thanks to a Laidlaw penalty.
Parks responded for Connacht, who have not won away in the tournament since April, with a drop goal on 11 minutes as the visitors battled their way back into the game.
And it got better for Connacht on 15 minutes as Robbie Henshaw went over for a score, with Parks adding the extras – at this stage the most unlikely of wins seemed on the cards.
Laidlaw knocked over penalties on 20 and 29 minutes to get within a point of the visitors as Edinburgh started to boss both territory and possession.
Kicking seemed as though it would play a crucial role in proceedings if Connacht were to escape Murrayfield with a win but on 35 minutes Parks missed a crucial penalty to extend his side's lead.
The kick was to prove decisive as Dougie Fife scored Edinburgh's first try of the evening on the stroke of half-time, with Laidlaw adding the extras to swing the game in the home sides favour 16-10 at the break.
Connacht looked dead and buried ten minutes into the second-half as Laidlaw extended Edinburgh's lead to 19-10 with a penalty.
Parks was experiencing a mixed evening in a Connacht shirt and on 56 minutes he missed a penalty to drag his side back into the game and just 60 seconds later he was replaced by Craig Ronaldson.
And just two minutes later Parks' miss looked even worse as Laidlaw slotted a penalty of his own to put Edinburgh in a commanding position at 22-10 with just 20 minutes to play.
Cornell du Preez ensured there was to be no fightback for Connacht on 73 minutes as he went over for an Edinburgh score – inevitably the ever-reliable Laidlaw converted the try to make the score 29-10.
Down and out; Connacht collapsed in the final stages as Nick de Luca went over for Edinburgh's third try of the evening on 77 minutes – Laidlaw adding the extras.
And Edinburgh confirmed a bonus point as WP Nel scored two minutes later – again Laidlaw adding the extras – as the home side claimed a 43-10 win.
Tries: Fife, Du Preez, De Luca, Nel
Cons: Laidlaw 4
Pens: Laidlaw 5
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Ben Atiga, 11 Jack Cuthbert, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 8 Dave Denton, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 Cornell du Preez, 5 Izak van der Westhuizen, 4 Ollie Atkins, 3 WP Nel, 2 Aleki Lutui, 1 Al Dickinson.
Replacements: 16 James Hilterbrand, 17 Wicus Blaauw, 18 Geoff Cross, 19 Sean Cox, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Sam Beard, 23 Tom Brown.
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Fionn Carr, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Jake Heenan, 6 Aly Muldowney, 5 Craig Clarke (captain), 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Nathan White, 2 Sean Henry, 1 Ronan Loughney.
Replacements: 16 Jason Harris-Wright, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Michael Swift, 20 John Muldoon, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Gavin Duffy.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Neil Paterson (Scotland), Stephen Ward (Scotland)
Newport Gwent Dragons 14-18 Munster
Ian Keatley was the shining light in a scrappy Munster performance after kicking all 18 points as the Irish region lay down the gauntlet to the rest of the Pro12 with an 18-14 victory over Newport Gwent Dragons.
The Dragons led at half-time thanks to two penalties from Jason Tovey and they extended that early in the second-half thanks to a try from Matthew Pewtner.
But poor discipline allowed Keatley the chance to kick his side back into the game, eventually sealing the victory with five second-half penalties to extend Munster's lead at the top of the Pro12.
The league leaders had won their last five league fixtures, not losing since a surprise defeat to Benetton Treviso back in Round 3, but struggled during an uneventful first 40 minutes.
Tovey was offered the chance to give the Dragons an early lead on 11 minutes with a penalty which he duly converted but he was unsuccessful with another attempt six minutes later.
That was how it stayed during a tense opening 20 minutes and after Munster were awarded a penalty in front of the posts the returning Keatley made no mistake to level things up at 3-3.
The flyhalf then saw a drop-goal attempt – following a sustained period of play in the Dragons 22 – sail just wide of the posts before Tovey scored another penalty right on half-time to hand the hosts a 6-3 lead at the break.
That extra bit of momentum taken into half-time seemed to help the Dragons as they grabbed the game's first try on 43 minutes through Pewtner – although Tovey couldn't add the extras.
The fly-half's inconsistent kicking display continued on 48 minutes when he saw another penalty go wide of the target and he was soon made to pay.
Keatley scored Munster's first points on the second-half on 52 minutes with a penalty after the Dragons were guilty of not rolling away.
However the visitors were reduced to 14 men on 56 minutes when Keith Earls, another returning to the starting XV, was sent to the sin bin for a high tackle.
The Dragons couldn't capitalise though and it was Munster who bagged three more points through Keatley on the hour before they were both a man down with Cory Hill joining Earls in the bin.
Keatley missed the resulting penalty but didn't make the same mistake when given another chance on 67 minutes, with the Dragons guilty of holding on, to take his side into the lead for the first time in the game.
The Welsh side responded with a drop goal from Tovey as the lead was handed back to the Dragons who had lost just one of their last seven contests at Rodney Parade.
But two penalties from Keatley in the final ten minutes, including a monster effort from inside his own half, saw Munster take a hard-fought victory.
For Newport Gwent Dragons::
Pens: Tovey 2
Pens: Keatley 6
Yellow cards: Keith Earls Munster, 56), Cory Hill (Newport Gwent Dragons, 62)
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Daniel Evans, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ross Wardle 11 Matthew Pewtner, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Netani Talei, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans, 5 Robert Sidoli (captain), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Francisco Chaparro, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Aaron Coundley, 18 Dan Way, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Ashley Smith.
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Keith Earls, 12 James Downey, 11 Denis Hurley, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan, 7 CJ Stander, 6 Billy Holland (captain), 5 Paul O'Connell, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Ian Nagle, 20 Barry O'Mahony, 21 Cathal Sheridan, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ivan Dineen
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
Ospreys 16-28 Glasgow Warriors
DTH van der Merwe and Ryan Wilson were last-gasp heroes for Glasgow as the Warriors continued their recent hoodoo over a depleted-Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium, winning 28-16.
Van der Merwe scored a late-try in the corner ten minutes from time to break Ospreys' hearts and with it ensure Glasgow continue their assault at the top of the Pro12 summit.
And with the final play of the game it got worse for Ospreys as Wilson went over for Glasgow's third try to ensure the home side missed out on even a losing bonus point.
Earlier, Sam Davies had been the star of the show for the Ospreys as he produced a near faultless kicking display.
After a shaky start, fly-half Davies – making his first Ospreys Pro12 start – grabbed the game by the scruff of the neck as he scored 11 points with the boot.
Davies looked like a seasoned international in the No.10 shirt, ensuring the scoreboard kept ticking for the home side in the opening 20 minutes.
Missing 17 players due to a combination of international call-ups and injuries – Ospreys struggled to get their game going and were fortunate to lead 10-6 after 30 minutes, scoring with their only visits into the Glasgow 22.
Glasgow had the luxury of recalling seven internationals following Scotland's autumn campaign and it showed as they bossed the territory and the breakdown area.
Ruaridh Jackson gave Glasgow the lead with a penalty after just three minutes but the visitors, who have won their last four matches against the Ospreys and have not lost at the Liberty Stadium since March 2011, failed to build on their early momentum. .
Wing Jeff Hassler got the Ospreys back into the game on 17 minutes as he scored an opportunist try with the home side's first real meaningful attack – Jones added the extras from the kicking tee.
Jackson kicked his second penalty to bring Glasgow back into contention but it got better for the Ospreys eight minutes later as Davies slotted a drop goal.
And with just six minutes left of the first-half, Davies – who is the son of former Wales centre and skipper Nigel, who now coaches Gloucester – kicked a penalty to make the score 13-6.
Davies thought he got the scoreboard moving again just after half-time but unfortunately after a period of sustained pressure for the Ospreys his drop goal attempt slipped wide of the left upright.
Glasgow were fortunate to escape a yellow card on 53 minutes as the visitor's pack illegally slowed down an Ospreys break, allowing the impressive Davies the chance to slot another penalty and extend his team's lead to 16-6.
And it could have got worse for Glasgow before the hour mark as the Ospreys camped on the visitor's line and looked certain to add to their first-half try.
However, an uncharacteristic error saw Glasgow run the length of the field to score as Sean Lamont broke a tackle in the Warriors' 22 and offloaded to scrum-half Chris Cusiter to score – Jackson missed his resulting kick at goal.
Just after the hour mark Lamont was stretched off with what looked like a serious looking knee injury but the disruption did little to halt the visitors' comeback as Stuart Hogg took advantage of Ospreys' ill-discipline at scrum-time to land a long range penalty and bring Glasgow back to within two points.
All the momentum now seemed with Glasgow and on 69 minutes DTH van der Merwe scored the cheekiest of scores in the corner to hand the visitor's lead – Jackson added the extras to make it 21-16 with just ten minutes remaining.
The Ospreys set-piece collapsed in the final quarter and the major contributing factor to the Glasgow fightback.
And Ospreys were denied even a losing bonus point in the final minutes as Wilson went over for a late score, with Jackson adding the extras to make the final score 28-16.
Pens: Davies 2
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Cusiter, Van der Merwe, Wilson
Cons: Jackson 2
Pens: Jackson 2, Hogg
Yellow card: Scott Baldwin (Ospreys, 65)
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell, 14 Hanno Dirksen, 13 Tom Isaacs, 12 Ben John, 11 Jeff Hassler, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Morgan Allen, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Aaron Jarvis, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones (captain).
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Dan Suter, 19 Graham Knoop, 20 Arthur Ellis, 21 Rhys Webb, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Aisea Natoga.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Sean Lamont, 11 DTH Van der Merwe, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Chris Cusiter, 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock (captain), 4 Jonny Gray, 3 Ed Kalman, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Dougie Hall, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 James Eddie, 21 Ryan Wilson, 22 Henry Pyrgos, 23 Finn Russell.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Neil Hennessy (Wales), Sean Brickell (Wales)
TMO: Derek Bevan (Wales)