Pienaar stars at pivot for Ulster
Pienaar stars at pivot for UlsterSHARE
Ruan Pienaar scored 21 points playing at flyhalf as unbeaten Ulster secured a 46-19 away Pro12 victory against the Dragons on Friday.
The Irish side consolidated their place at the top of the Pro12 with an eighth straight win this season as they won in Wales.
Mark Anscombe's side came into the game having won all five of their Pro12 matches, as well as both European clashes in the last fortnight, and despite a tight first half they proved too powerful at Rodney Parade.
Pienaar, Tom Court, Nick Williams and Darren Cave went over to secure the bonus point before the hour mark, with Andrew Trimble and Jared Payne adding further scores.
In response the Dragons went over through Andy Tuilagi but once Ulster got away the home side had no answer.
The Dragons made a quick start with consecutive bursts from Toby Faletau, who would later be forced off with a knock, and Tuilagi forcing Ulster to infringe at the breakdown.
Playing at fullback Tom Prydie made no mistake with the penalty, bisecting the uprights from just inside the Ulster half.
The home side added to that lead on eight minutes with another Prydie penalty after a great break from Will Harries, with Chris Henry penalised for slowing the ball down.
Ulster needed 15 minutes to get onto the scoreboard but when they did it was prop Tom Court who was the unlikely scorer.
Pienaar, playing at ten, tried to finish off what had been a period of concerted pressure and when he was stopped Court pounced on his offload to dive under the posts.
After Pienaar converted to make it 7-6, Prydie had the chance to put the home side back in front only for his third penalty attempt to drift wide but his South African counterpart did the same shortly after.
The Dragons had been impressive and on the half-hour they got their first try of the match through Tuilagi.
A barrage of pick and drives and clever switching of the play from scrum-half Jonathan Evans gave the Samoan centre a bit of space and despite a scrambling Ulster defence he battled his way over. Prydie converted to make it 13-7.
But almost as soon as the Dragons had retaken the lead, they found themselves under pressure again and could not stop Williams. The giant No.8 showed his strength on a rumble off the back of a ruck and when the Dragons failed to stop him at the first attempt he had too much power and scored the visitors' second try.
In a topsy-turvy first half the Dragons were back in front when Prydie slotted a third penalty but the fullback turned from hero to villain when he conceded a chargedown try.
Pienaar's grubber through was collected by Prydie but as he tried to clear the South African flyhalf blocked his kick and dived over for Ulster's third try – his missed conversion leaving it at 19-16 at the break.
Ulster extended their lead to six with an early penalty in the second half from Pienaar and he added another a few minutes later to give the visitors a little breathing space.
The Dragons were then dealt a major blow when No.8 Faletau was forced off with an ankle problem to be replaced by Nic Cudd.
As the second half wore on a fourth Ulster try seemed inevitable and in the end it was centre Cave who drifted past Adam Hughes to score, Pienaar's conversion making it 32-19.
The Dragons had to score next but as they tried to force it Andrew Trimble showed great hands to intercept a Lewis Robling pass and the Ireland winger went under the posts as Ulster began to cut loose.
In the end Ulster had to wait until the 78th minute for their sixth score, replacement Payne getting on the end of an inside pass to go under the posts.
For the Newport Gwent Dragons:
Pens: Prydie 4
Tries: Trimble, Pienaar, Court, Cave, Williams, Payne
Cons: Pienaar 5
Pens: Pienaar 2
Newport Gwent Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Adam Hughes, 12 Andy Tuilagi, 11 Tondi Chavhanga, 10 Lewis Robling, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Jevon Groves, 6 Tom Brown, 5 Robert Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Nathan Buck, 2 Steve Jones, 1 Owen A. Evans.
Replacements: 16 Sam Parry, 17 Nathan Williams, 18 Dan Way, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Nic Cudd, 21 Liam Davies, 22 Steffan Jones, 23 Pat Leach .
Ulster: 15 Tommy Bowe, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Chris Henry (captain), 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Lewis Stevenson, 3 Declan Fitzpatrick, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Nigel Brady, 17 Callum Black, 18 John Afoa, 19 Mike McComish, 20 Roger Wilson, 21 Paddy Jackson, 22 Luke Marshall, 23 Jared Payne.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Leighton Hodges, Neil Perkins (both Wales)
TMO: Neil Ballard (Wales)
Munster 29-3 Zebre
JJ Hanrahan grabbed two tries on his full Pro12 debut as Munster put in a dominant second-half display for a 29-3 bonus-point win over Zebre at Thomond Park.
A penalty apiece in the first half left the scores 3-3 at the break but Hanrahan went over shortly after the interval before Felix Jones burst through for Munster's second try ten minutes later.
Hanrahan then latched on to Ian Keatley's smart dink to cross in the 67th minute and Luke O'Dea added a late fourth for the bonus point, but Keatley failed to add the extras for the first time in the match.
Tries: Jones, O'Dea, Hanrahan 2
Cons: Keatley 3
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Luke O'Dea, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 JJ Hanrahan, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Paddy Butler. 7 Peter O'Mahony, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Donncha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damien Varley, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Tommy O'Donnell, 21 Conor Murray, 22 Johne Murphy, 23 Denis Hurley.
Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 David Odiete, 13 Gonzalo Garcia (captain), 12 Daniel Halangahu, 11 Matteo Pratichetti, 10 Alberto Chiesa, 9 Luca Martinelli, 8 Andries Van Schalkwyk, 7 Filippo Cristiano, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Emiliano Caffini, 3 Luca Redolfini, 2 Andrea Manici, 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 David Ryan, 19 Filippo Cazzola, 20 Nicola Belardo, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Luciano Orquera, 23 Leonardo Sarto.
Referee: Neil Hennessy (Wales)
Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, David Connolly (both Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
Scarlets 29-28 Edinburgh
Rhys Priestland's late penalty gave Scarlets a narrow 29-28 victory over Edinburgh, who came within seconds of securing their first Pro12 victory in four games on Friday.
Flyhalf Harry Leonard, who finished with a 23-point haul, kept the hosts in the game despite some poor defence but it was his opposite number who had the last laugh.
Wales international Priestland, who came off the bench on 55 minutes, slotted home an 78th-minute penalty to secure maximum points for the visitors who had notched four tries by half-time.
Two tries from Welsh wing George North and one each from Nick Reynolds and Gareth Davies secured the bonus point within 40 minutes but Tim Visser's first-half effort and Leonard's persistence kept them on their toes.
Pens: Leonard 7
Tries: Davies, Reynolds, North 2
Cons: Thomas 3
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Matt Scott, 12 Nick De Luca, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Harry Leonard, 9 Chris Leck, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Ross Rennie, 6 David Denton, 5 Sean Cox (captain), 4 Grant Gilchrist, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Robin Hislop, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Roddy Grant, 21 Richie Rees, 22 John Houston, 23 Tom Brown.
Scarlets: 15 Liam Williams, 14 George North, 13 Nick Reynolds, 12 Scott Williams, 11 Morgan Stoddart, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 Johnathan Edwards, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tomas Vallejos, 4 Sione Timani, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Ken Owens, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Kieran Murphy, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Gareth Owen.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant Referees: Peter Allan, Bob Nairns (both Scotland)
TMO: Iain Ramage