Scarlets topple mighty Munster
PRO12 leaders Munster lost for the first time in Wales this season as the Scarlets claimed a 18-13 win at Parc Y Scarlets.
PRO12 leaders Munster lost for the first time in Wales this season as the Scarlets claimed a 18-13 win at Parc Y Scarlets.
Tries from Gareth Davies and John Barclay were enough for Simon Easterby's side despite some opportunistic finishing from Munster in the first half.
After an edgy opening quarter of an hour, it was the Scarlets who took the lead through new signing Olly Barkley who knocked over a simple penalty.
Munster responded immediately with a penalty of their own through Ian Keatley but it was the home side who were dominating possession and territory.
Despite being on the back foot, the Munster defence was holding firm until just before the half-hour when PRO12 top-scorer Davies produced a moment of magic.
The scrumhalf had a go himself off the back of a Scarlets maul, skipping past James Coughlan before stepping the desperate Munster cover defence to score his seventh try of the campaign. Barkley was off-target with the tricky conversion but the Scarlets led 8-3.
Munster almost hit back immediately after some lovely soft hands by Casey Laulala but Tommy O'Donnell could not find a teammate in the Scarlets 22.
However, it did not take long for Munster to get their first try, and when it came, it was from a moment of fortune.
Davies once more showed his quick feet as he broke off the back of a Scarlets scrum, but with Munster looking stretched, Barkley could not collect a low pass, and Gerhard Van der Heever was able to scoop it up and run in unopposed from halfway. Keatley's conversion made it 10-8 to the visitors against the run of play.
That seemed to the spark that Munster needed and they kept the pressure on the Scarlets with another attack before the break that led to Phil John going off his feet. Keatley's simple penalty made it 13-8 at half-time.
The Scarlets made a nightmare start to the second half giving away a penalty from the kick-off, but from out wide Keatley's penalty drifted just to the left.
Aled Thomas, taking over the kicking duties from Barkley, was next on the scoreboard, knocking over a simple penalty after Munster were caught offside, to reduce the deficit to two.
And almost immediately, the quick thinking of Barclay put the Scarlets back in front. The Scottish international sprinted off the back of a Munster lineout to collect Duncan Williams' long pass before showing his pace to race over from more than 60m. Thomas slotted a tricky conversion to make it 18-13.
Van der Heever thought he had scored his second try when he went over on the right, but the try was called back for a knock-on by Williams earlier in the move.
Still, the visitors were in the ascendancy and after some quick feet from Simon Zebo, they earned a penalty when Josh Turnbull kicked the ball out of Duncan Casey's hands, and the Scarlets flanker was sent to the sin-bin.
With the extra man Munster drove towards the line, but after consultation with the TMO it was not clear if a try had been scored. The visitors chose to take a five-metre scrum.
But the visitors were unable to control the ball at the back of the scrum and when Rhodri Davies broke away Coughlan tackled him high, only for the penalty to be reversed for retaliating by George Earle.
Munster then had a great chance when Laulala produced a glorious break but Van der Heever wasn't able to hang on to his pass and the Scarlets were able to hang on.
Tries: G Davies, Barclay
Pens: Barkley, Thomas
Try: van der Heever
Pens: Keatley 2
Scarlets: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Olly Barkley, 11 Frazier Climo, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (captain), 7 John Barclay, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Johan Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Richard Kelly, 20 Sione Timani, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Gareth Maule, 23 Adam Warren.
Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Gerhard van den Heever, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Denis Hurley, 11 Johne Murphy, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan (captain), 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donncha O'Callaghan, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Ger Slattery, 17 James Cronin, 18 BJ Botha, 19 Dave Foley, 20 Sean Dougall, 21 Gerry Hurley, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Ronan O'Mahony.
Referee: Dudley Phillips (Ireland)
Assistant Referees: Wayne Davies, Rhys Thomas (both WRU)
TMO: Tim Hayes (WRU)
Leinster 28-25 Glasgow Warriors
Defending PRO12 champions Leinster went top of the table with a hard-fought 28-25 win over Glasgow Warriors at the RDS.
Noel Reid, Daragh Fanning and Rhys Ruddock all went over the hosts who leapfrog bitter rivals Munster at the top after the latter's defeat in Wales against the Scarlets.
The Warriors stay fifth in the table but can take plenty of positives as they pushed their illustrious rivals all the way, crossing for three scores in Dublin.
Richie Vernon bagged two of them, his first scores since converting to centre from the back-row, in the first half and Nikola Matawalu burrowed over after the interval as they momentarily led their hosts.
But in the end the Irish region proved too strong as Ruddock's score, plus 13 points in total from the boot of Ian Madigan saw the Irish region home.
The game was only six minutes old when Reid went over for the game's first try, the youngster cleverly evading two tackles after a fine backs move from a scrum had released the centre.
Madigan bagged the extras from right in front and it appeared that Stuart Townsend's men were going to be in for a long night at the RDS.
But the Scottish side's response was almost immediate and after some sustained pressure it was Scotland flyhalf Ruaridh Jackson who opened up the champions.
The No.10 skipped his way through the backline and his clever pass found the streaking Vernon on his shoulder who crashed over for the try.
Vernon's midfield partner Finn Russell was in charge of the kicking duties and his simple conversion levelled things up.
Leinster appeared to have weathered that storm soon after when the forwards won Madigan a penalty that he duly converted to re-establish a lead at 10-7.
The Warriors clearly were not daunted though and they had the next try in the 23rd minute, and it was that man Vernon again.
The former flanker found space down the right after the pack had laid the platform and when he barrelled over the Warriors were in front at 12-7, Russell off target with the conversion this time.
No sooner had they gone in front however than ill-discipline let the Warriors down and Madigan slotted a penalty to immediately re-establish Leinster's lead at 13-12.
On the half hour mark Madigan was at it again, slotting another penalty to extend the hosts' lead to four points.
As half-time approached it was all Leinster and finally the pressure told as Fanning went over, collecting Zane Kirchner's superb shovel pass to ground in the right corner.
Madigan missed with his conversion however and there was still time before the interval for Russell to slot a penalty at the other end and keep the Warriors in the contest at 21-15.
After half-time it was the visitors who started the brighter and came agonisingly close to their third try when a concerted pack effort carried them to the verge of the try line.
It appeared that the chance had passed however when referee Nigel Owens went to the TMO but a last angle clearly showed Nikola Matawalu sliding his way over the line through a sea of bodies and the try was awarded.
Russell's conversion had the Warriors back in front but that only served to fire up the Leinster pack who re-asserted their dominance as the half wore on.
After extended pressure in the Warriors 22, and manful defence from the Scottish side, it was Ruddock who eventually swivelled over from close range to put Leinster back in front, Madigan's successful conversion making it 28-22.
Still though the Warriors refused to buckle and as the game entered the final ten minutes it was they that remained in the ascendancy.
But Leinster's defence was solid, only allowing Russell a penalty that reduced it to a three-point lead in the closing stages but that was not enough as the men in blue clung on.
Tries: Reid, Fanning, Ruddock
Cons: Madigan 2
Pens: Madigan 3
Tries: Vernon 2, Matawalu
Cons: Russell 2
Leinster: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Leo Cullen (captain), 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Richardt Strauss, 17 Michael Bent, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Jimmy Gopperth, 23 Darren Hudson.
Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Finn Russell, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Ruaridh Jackson, 9 Chris Cusiter (captain), 8 Josh Strauss, 7 Rob Harley, 6 James Eddie, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Gordon Reid.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Jerry Yanuyanutawa, 18 Ed Kalman, 19 Leone Nakarawa, 20 Tyrone Holmes, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Mark Bennett, 23 Lee Jones.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffkin (Ireland), Richard Kerr (Ireland)
TMO: Alan Rogan (Ireland)
Zebre 15-10 Cardiff Blues
Tries from Brendon Leonard and Giulio Toniolatti helped Zebre to their first PRO12 double as they saw off Cardiff Blues 15-10 in Parma.
In difficult conditions they scored two first-half tries to take control of the game, and despite a Blues fightback, they were able to hold on for their third win of the campaign.
Earlier in the season Zebre had recorded their first ever victory in the reverse fixture in Cardiff, emerging 30-25 victors.
And they made the perfect start through their former All Black scrumhalf Leonard. The Kiwi, who had scored the winning try in the reverse fixture earlier in the season, went over after just two minutes to give Zebre the lead, Kelly Haimona's conversion made it 7-0.
The Blues quickly replied with a penalty from Gareth Davies while Haimona missed three penalty attempts in quick succession as Zebre dominated but struggled to turn possession into points.
However after the sin-binning of Rory Watts-Jones, Zebre scored their second try through the opportunism of Toniolatti.
After the ball was spread wide, hooker Luigi Ferraro chipped over the top, Blues full-back Tom Williams could not collect in the difficult conditions, and Toniolatti was on hand to collect and dive over to give the hosts a 12-3 lead after 22 minutes. Tommaso Iannone missed the conversion.
Cardiff needed to react, and they did so with a period of possession deep in the Zebre 22, and it got more difficult for the hosts when Filippo Ferrarini was sent to the sin-bin for collapsing a maul.
But despite playing with a man down, Zebre were able to keep their visitors at bay, and even when the Blues looked sure to score at the end of the half, Chris Dicomidis was forced into touch by a good tackle from Toniolatti.
The Blues improved at the start of the second half, and were rewarded with a try ten minutes after the break through Williams.
The full-back, who had been at fault for Toniolatti's score, crossed after a period of pressure and Davies' conversion brought the score back to 12-10 for the Italians.
Luciano Orquera, on for Haimona just after the break, had the chance to extend Zebre's lead, but like his predecessor, he was off-target with a penalty attempt on the hour mark.
But five minutes later he found his range, knocking over a penalty from 30 metres out, to give Zebre a five-point lead with quarter of an hour remaining.
Cardiff kept fighting, and looked certain to score five minutes from time after Dan Fish's cross-kick, but an accidental offside killed the attack dead with the try-line beckoning.
And the Blues looked like they had scored a try through Harry Robinson to draw or potentially win the game with the final play, only for it to be called back for obstruction after consultation with the TMO.
Tries: Leonard, Toniolatti
For Cardiff Blues:
Try: T Williams
Zebre: 15 Guglielmo Palazzani, 14 Giulio Toniolatti, 13 Kameli Ratuvou, 12 Tommaso Iannone, 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Kelli Haimona, 9 Brendon Leonard, 8 Samuela Vunisa, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Filippo Ferrarini, 5 George Biagi 4 Andries van Schalkwyk (captain), 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Luigi Ferraro 1 Salvatore Perugini.
Replacements: 16 Sami Panico, 17 Matias Aguero, 18 David Ryan 19 Filippo Cazzola, 20 Emiliano Caffini, 21 Luciano Orquera, 22 Tommaso Castello, 23 Ruggero Trevisan.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Tom Williams, 14 Harry Robinson, 13 Isaia Tuifua, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Dan Fish, 10 Gareth Davies, 9 Lewis Jones, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Rory Watts-Jones, 5 Filo Paulo, 4 Chris Dicomidis, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Sam Hobbs (captain).
Replacements: 16 Rhys Williams, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Lou Reed, 20 Ellis Jenkins, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Simon Humberstone, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.
Referee: Gary Conway (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Marius Mitrea (Italy), Claudio Blessano (Italy)
TMO: Carlo Damasco (Italy)
Connacht 38-6 Treviso
Connacht made it three straight PRO12 victories thanks to John Muldoon's double with a comprehensive 38-6 bonus-point victory over Treviso.
Pat Lam's side made a flying start with three first-half tries from Fionn Carr, Muldoon and Kieran Marmion to lead 24-6 at the break.
And it was more of the same after the break as Connacht added two more tries through Muldoon and Eoin McKeon.
Connacht made the perfect start with a try from winger Carr after just five minutes in the corner, with Dan Parks' conversion making it 7-0.
Treviso hit back with a penalty from Mat Berquist but it was only temporary respite as Connacht poured forward to score their second try.
After some good work from Tiernan O'Halloran to earn a lineout in the visitors' 22, Connacht produced a powerful rolling maul, and Muldoon was on hand to touch down for the try. Again Parks was on target with the conversion to extend the lead to 14-3.
Midway through the half Berquist added a second penalty of the evening to reduce the deficit to eight points.
Parks responded in kind with a penalty of his own, and just after the hour Connacht scored their third try.
After some good work from the home forwards, the young scrumhalf produced a little dummy before going on his own and scoring. Parks converted once more to make it 24-6.
That was how it stayed until the break, and despite having the better of the early exchanges of the second half, Treviso struggled to turn territory into points.
And on the hour Muldoon scored virtually a carbon-copy of his first try, holding onto the ball at the back of a maul before touching down for the bonus-point score. Parks' fourth conversion made it 31-6.
Treviso kept battling but paid for their indiscipline with yellow cards for Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet and Marco Filippucci in the space of two minutes for a high tackle and an infringement at a ruck respectively.
Connacht took full advantage as McKeon charged off the back of the scrum to drive over for the fifth try of the afternoon. Miah Nikora, who had replaced Parks, converted to seal the win.
Tries: Carr, Muldoon 2, Marmion, McKeon
Cons: Parks 4, Nikora
Pens: Berquist 2
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O'Halloran, 13 Eoin Griffin, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Eoghan Masterson, 6 John Muldoon (captain), 5 Mick Kearney, 4 Aly Muldowney, 3 Rodney Ah You, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Denis Buckley.
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Finlay Bealham, 18 Nathan White, 19 Michael Swift, 20 Andrew Browne, 21 Frank Murphy, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Danie Poolman.
Treviso: 15 Angelo Esposito, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Alberto Sgarbi, 12 Joe Van Niekerk, 11 Andrea Pratichetti, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Tobias Botes, 8 Marco Filippucci, 7 Paul Derbyshire, 6 Manoa Vosawai, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini, 2 Giovanni Maistri, 1 Matteo Muccignat.
Replacements: 16 Franco Sbaraglini, 17 Romulo Acosta, 18 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 19 Marco Fuser, 20 Valerio Bernabò, 21 Robert Barbieri, 22 Fabio Semenzato, 23 Brendan Williams.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (Wales)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Will O'Connor (Ireland)