Leinster slide past Scarlets to go top
PRO12 SATURDAY WRAP: Leinster returned to the top of the table thanks to a seven-try victory over Scarlets for their 22nd straight home win.
The home side enjoyed much of the possession in the first half but only held a narrow three-point lead as two Luke McGrath tries were added to by three Daniel Jones penalties for the visitors.
But after the restart, Leinster turned on the style and Rhys Ruddock and Joey Carbery scores quickly brought up the bonus point.
Carbery added a second before Ed Byrne and a late Jamison Gibson-Park meant Scarlets were well beaten for their first loss in six games.
Meanwhile, Munster overcame a stubborn Cardiff Blues as they came from behind for a battling 23-13 victory at Cardiff Arms Park. Tries from Francis Saili and replacement Conor Oliver helped Rassie Erasmus' side to victory, despite trailing for much of the match.
Aled Summerhill crossed for the hosts, but the Irish side had too much for a Cardiff side decimated by injury and absentees.
Elsewhere, Nick Grigg's first half try double laid the platform for a phenomenal Glasgow Warriors fightback 47-17 win over Newport Gwent Dragons at Scotstoun.
Gregor Townsend's side were winless since January 7 and with Sarel Pretorius massively influential in the first 20 minutes, Rynard Landman crashing over and Angus O'Brien kicking a penalty, Dragons looked good to continue that run.
But after Landman's try on 23 minutes, Glasgow were irrepressible - scoring seven tries as Grigg and Peter Horne controlled the game and Brian Alainu'uese dominated in the carry. Centre Grigg's double kick-started the Glasgow revival, turning over the 0-10 deficit to lead 14-10 at half-time, before Rory Hughes and debutant Ratu Tagive crossed within 10 minutes of the turn.
All Saturday's scores and scorers!
Cardiff Blues 13-23 Munster
Steve Shingler opened the scoring for Cardiff after a scrappy opening 20 minutes when he landed a 40-metre penalty.
However, their advantage was short-lived as Rory Scannell returned the favour just two minutes later, Scannell assuming kicking duty after Ian Keatley, who looked impressive on his return to the side, was forced off the field with injury.
Shingler restored the Blues' lead with another penalty three minutes before half-time after Josh Navidi had been penalised at a ruck.
The Blues started the second half brightly, and were rewarded when wing Summerhill sprinted 70 metres for an intercept try to seize the initiative for the hosts, Shingler adding the extras.
However, once again, the visitors responded almost instantly with a try of their own when replacement centre Francis Saili charged through the Blues defence to cross, Scannell converting.
Munster kept up the pressure on their Welsh hosts, and thought they had their noses in front through Andrew Conway, but a TMO replay showed he had not grounded the ball. Scannell kicked a close-range penalty to level proceedings 13 minutes from time, the momentum firmly with the visitors, who barely got out of their own half in the second period.
And despite some heroic Cardiff defending, Scannell kicked a drop goal with four minutes left as the Munstermen took a 16-13 lead. With the home side forced to commit men forward in search of a reply, Oliver raced clear from 30 metres from the breakdown to touch down unchallenged, Scannell adding the extras.
Munster are up to second, while Cardiff stay eighth, their top-six hopes having been dented.
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Shingler 2
Tries: Saili, Oliver
Cons: Scannell 2
Pens: Scannell 2
Yellow card: Willis Halaholo (Cardiff Blues, 45)
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Aled Summerhill, 13 Willis Halaholo, 12 Steven Shingler, 11 Tom James, 10 Gareth Anscombe, 9 Lloyd Williams (captain), 8 Nick Williams, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Macauley Cook, 5 Jarrad Hoeata, 4 George Earle, 3 Anton Peikrishvili, 2 Matthew Rees, 1 Corey Domachowski.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Taufa'ao Filise, 19 James Down, 20 Sion Bennett, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Garyn Smith, 23 Rhun Williams.
Munster: 15 Andrew Conway, 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Ronan O'Mahony, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Tommy O'Donnell, 6 Dave O'Callaghan, 5 Billy Holland (captain), 4 Darren O'Shea, 3 Stephen Archer, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Dave Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Kevin O'Byrne, 17 Peter McCabe, 18 Brian Scott, 19 Fineen Wycherley, 20 Conor Oliver, 21 Abrie Griesel, 22 Dan Goggin, 23 Francis Saili.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Emmanuele Tomò, Jon Hardy
TMO: Jim Yuille (Scotland)
Glasgow Warriors 47-17 Newport Gwent Dragons
It was a frenetic start, Sam Beard looked like cutting through early on, only for Pyrgos to pick off the pass and then watch his chip ricochet off the Dragons line. Still, it was O'Brien who put Dragons ahead with a penalty after 14 minutes when Andrew Brace pinged Warriors at the breakdown.
After nearly 20 minutes at a breathless intensity at Scotstoun, Pat Howard looked to be in acres of space out wide only to inadvertently collide with fullback Tom Prydie who also had his eyes on the wide pass.
Pretorius and No.8 Lewis Evans linked well from the base of a scrum deep in the Glasgow 22, Howard popping up off his wing and driving close to the line before Landman picked and went under the posts, his momentum carrying him over.
O'Brien converted for a 10-0 lead, but that seemed to stir Glasgow to life, a clever Bennett kick piling the pressure on Dragons before Grigg was stripped by Pretorius reaching for the line. Grigg though made amends moments later, bursting through as the Warriors pressure took its toll, with Horne knocking over the conversion to pull Glasgow within three points after half an hour.
It was the powerful centre who then looked up and noticed lock Landman and prop Brok Harris in midfield and accelerated between the two tight forwards 30 metres out, leaving them both for dead and stepping inside the covering defence for a brilliant individual try.
With Horne's conversion, Glasgow led 14-10 at the break and Hughes picked a plum line from first-phase ball to slice through Dragons' defence and bundle over three minutes into the second period.
Scotland playmaker Horne made the simple conversion and seven minutes later his flat pass freed up Grigg to carve open the Dragons' defence 10 minutes into the half, laying the platform for Glasgow's bonus-point try.
Grigg found an outside shoulder and raced clear, passing inside to Corey Flynn who was caught just short, but when the ball was recycled and Horne had the presence of mind to spot Tagive unmarked out wide, dropping a cross-field kick into the wing's path for a first Warriors try.
Townsend's side did not have to wait too long for try number six, a quick tap from Pyrgos five metres out found Murchie and after a quick shimmy he hit Jones on a short line, who span through two challenges to cross for a converted try.
Olympic silver medallist Bennett was the next to capitalise on Grigg's creative showing, picking an inside line off his centre partner and showing his superb pace to score under the posts, Horne again converting before grabbing the seventh and final try following a Brandon Thomson break late on.
Tyler Morgan scored a consolation score with the last play as Glasgow pushed for number eight.
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Grigg, Horne, Hughes, Tagive, Jones, Bennett
Cons: Horne 7
For Newport Dragons:
Tries: Landman, Morgan
Cons: O'Brien, Jones
Glasgow: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Nick Grigg, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Peter Horne, 9 Henry Pyrgos (captain), 8 Richie Vernon, 7 Simone Favaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Brian Alainu'uese, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 D'arcy Rae, 2 Corey Flynn, 1 Alex Allan.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Jamie Bhatti, 18 Sila Pufasi, 19 Scott Cummings, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Nemia Kenatale, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Ratu Tagive.
Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Pat Howard, Adam Warren, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Sam Beard, 11 Adam Warren, 10 Angus O'Brien, 9 Sarel Pretorius; 8 Lewis Evans (captain) 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Ollie Griffiths, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 James Thomas, 3 Brok Harris, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Sam Hobbs.
Replacements: 16 Rhys Buckley, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Harrison Keddie, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Will Talbot-Davies.
Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Dunx McClement (Scotland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Leinster 45-9 Scarlets
Scarlets started the game stronger and they had the lead after just three minutes as Jones slotted a penalty through the posts.
But Leinster came straight back at the Welsh side and after Peter Dooley almost crossed the whitewash, the visitors were pinged for not releasing right on their try-line and McGrath powered over from the back of a scrum for the game's first try.
Ross Byrne added the extras but the home side's lead was cut to just one midway through the half as Jones kicked his second penalty. But Jones' next kick was not as successful as McGrath charged him down and collected the ball to go over for his second try of the evening, although Byrne couldn't convert.
The Scarlets threatened to score a try of their own just before the half-hour mark but after a knock on, they had to make do with another Jones three-pointer. That meant Leinster led 12-9 at half-time as despite some late pressure, Scarlets' defence held firm and were grateful for Nigel Owens' whistle.
Leinster picked up where they left off following the restart but they once again faced a stubborn Scarlets defending. They didn't have to wait long for a third try as Fergus McFadden claimed a Byrne cross kick and after the ball was moved left to right, Ruddock crashed over.
Byrne converted and he was at it again as Leinster wrapped up the bonus point when Carbery went over on 52 minutes. That was Carbery's fifth try in as many games and he didn't have to wait long for a sixth as just moments later, an Adam Byrne offload sent the fullback over again, although Ross Byrne failed to add the extras.
Leinster were in full flow now and just before the hour, a Ross Byrne cross kick was collected by Adam Byrne who then sent Ed Byrne over for a first-ever league try. And with 80 minutes on the clock, Gibson-Park went over for a seventh try as Scarlets were kept scoreless in the second half.
Tries: McGrath 2, Ruddock, Carbery 2, Byrne, Gibson-Park
Cons: Byrne 5
Pens: Jones 3
Leinster: 15 Joey Carbery, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Zane Kirchner, 12 Noel Reid, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Jack Conan, 7 Dan Leavy, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Hayden Triggs, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 Richardt Strauss (captain), 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 Bryan Byrne, 17 Ed Byrne, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Max Deegan, 21 Jamison Gibson-Park, 22 Tom Daly, 23 Barry Daly.
Scarlets: 15 Johnny Mcnicholl, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Steff Hughes, 12 Hadleigh Parkes (captain), 11 DTH van der Merwe, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Will Boyde, 7 James Davies, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Tom Price, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Dafydd Hughes, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Declan Smith, 22 Aled Thomas, 23 Ioan Nicholas.
Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Brickell (Wales), Jonathan Peak (Ireland)
TMO: Tim Hayes (Wales)