Munster tame Ospreys to stay top
Munster tame Ospreys to stay topSHARE
James Downey helped himself to his first Munster try as the 2011 champions returned to the top of the PRO12 with a 25-11 victory over Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.
Ospreys hosted the Munstermen off the back of demolishing Treviso 75-7 last time out, their biggest victory since the region was formed in 2003.
But Munster brought their Welsh hosts crashing back down to earth and leapfrogged Leinster to climb back to the summit of the PRO12 thanks to tries from Sean Dougall, Simon Zebo and Downey.
Ian Keatley and JJ Hanrahan added the rest of the points from the tee while the Ospreys could only muster an Ashley Beck try and two Sam Davies penalties in reply.
The game was just five minutes old when Munster went in front. The Irish side's pack was causing Ospreys all sorts of trouble early on and after a lineout and mail Dougall dotted down, Keatley adding the conversion for an early 7-0 lead.
Ten minutes later Keatley stretched the visitors' lead as he sent over a penalty, before Davies responded with a three-pointer of his own just moments later.
On 26 minutes Keatley sent over his second penalty of the night but when Davies tries to follow suit just after half an hour he saw his effort cannon back off a post.
But on 38 minutes the Ospreys were well and truly back in the game as Beck shrugged off Keatley, skipped past two more would-be tacklers and dotted down.
Davies however failed to add the extras and a long-range penalty on the stroke of half-time from the flyhalf meant Ospreys trailed 13-8 at half-time.
And just five minutes after the restart Munster gave their hosts a masterclass in making the most of their chances as wing Zebo picked up a loose ball and sped in down the wing, Keatley off target with the extras.
Hanno Dirksen came on for his 50th Ospreys appearance and on the hour mark the home side thought they had there second try only for Scott Baldwin's effort to be ruled out for double movement.
On 67 minutes Davies did reduce the deficit with another penalty but just two minutes later Downey went in under the posts following a good lineout move for his first Munster score.
And things went from bad to worse for Ospreys before the final whistle as with just two minutes left Ryan Jones was sent to the sin bin, meaning they ended the contest with just 14 men.
Pens: Davies 2
Tries: Dougall, Zebo, Downey
Cons: Keatley, Hanrahan
Pens: Keatley 2
Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Aisea Natoga, 13 Jonathan Spratt (captain), 12 Ashley Beck, 11 Jeff Hassler, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Joe Bearman, 7 Sam Lewis, 6 Tyler Ardron, 5 James King, 4 Perry Parker, 3 Dan Suter, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Duncan Jones.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Dwyer, 17 Marc Thomas, 18 Joe Rees, 19 Ryan Jones, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Tito Tebaldi, 22 Hanno Dirksen, 23 Richard Fussell.
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Cathal Sheridan, 8 James Coughlan (captain), 7 Sean Dougall, 6 Tommy O'Donnell, 5 Dave Foley, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Duncan Casey, 1 James Cronin.
Replacements: 16 Ger Slattery, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 CJ Stander, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Denis Hurley.
Referee: David Wilkinson
Assistant referees: Wayne Davies, Jon Mason
TMO: Tim Hayes
Newport Gwent Dragons 24-23 Glasgow Warriors
Duncan Bell's shock return to the rugby field ended in victory as Newport Gwent Dragons defeated Glasgow Warriors 24-23 in a thrilling PRO12 encounter.
Bell has not played a professional game for two years after he ended his career while at Bath and is the current head coach at Lydney.
The 39-year-old was called in by the Dragons to help their depleted squad which has been suffering after a spate of injuries, suspensions and illness.
Glasgow had won their last four games in the PRO12 but when the Dragons took the lead for the first time ten minutes before the end thanks to Ross Wardle's try, they managed to hold out for a vital victory.
The Warriors made the faster start and were 7-0 up within three minutes.
After a kick was charged down the ball fell to Rob Harley who finished under the posts – with Finn Russell adding the simple conversion.
Jason Tovey got the Dragons' first points on the board seven minutes later with a successful penalty but it was soon cancelled out by a Mark Bennett's three points.
The Dragons were soon driving towards the line and after a beautiful off load Owen Evans touched down for the try.
Tovey put the conversion over to bring the game level but the flyhalf then had to leave the field through injury and was replaced by Dorian Jones.
The Warriors were back in front before half-time, Niko Matawalu latched on to a loose ball and ran the length of the opposition's half.
Russell's conversion was followed by the whistle just five minutes later and the visitors led 17-10 at half time.
The second half started slowly and two missed penalties by Rhys Jones, for the Dragons, came either side of Russell putting his side into a ten-point lead with his successful kick.
Cory Hill's try and the resulting conversion from Rhys Jones put the home side within three points but Russell scored another penalty to keep his team clear of a comeback.
Another charge down, this time for Dragons, led to them taking the lead for the first-time, Wardle made it across the tryline before Rhys Jones added the two points.
The in-form Russell had a chance to snatch the win with six minutes to go but his penalty was just short and the Dragons saw out the remainder of the game to get their first victory in four games.
Tries: O Evans, Cudd, Wardle
Cons: Tovey, Jones 2
Tries: Harley, Matawalu
Cons: Russell 2
Pens: Bennett, Russell 2
Dragons: 15 Rhys Jones, 14 Matthew Pewtner, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Will Harries, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Jevon Groves, 5 Cory Hill, 4 Andrew Coombs (captain), 3 Duncan Bell, 2 T. Rhys Thomas, 1 Owen Evans.
Replacements: 16 Hugh Gustafson, 17 Phil Price, 18 Bruce Douglas, 19 Matthew Screech, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Dorian Jones, 23 Ross Wardle.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Richie Vernon, 12 Mark Bennett, 11 Byron McGuigan, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Niko Matawalu, 8 Josh Strauss (captain), 7 Tyrone Holmes, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Leone Nakarawa, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Jerry Yanuyanutawa.
Replacements: 16 Fraser Brown, 17 Gordon Reid, 18 Jon Welsh, 19 Tom Ryder, 20 James Eddie, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Folau Niua, 23 Rory Hughes.
Referee: Matteo Liperini
Assistant referees: Rhys Thomas, Martyn Lewis
Ulster 14-12 Treviso
Ulster continued their relentless charge up the PRO 12 table thanks to tries from Darren Cave and Robbie Diack but the Irish side were made to work hard for the 14-12 win by a determined Treviso.
Pre-game statistics suggested a comfortable win for Ulster but four penalties from Treviso flyhalf Mat Berquist and continued needless errors by the visitors at the breakdown made for a tense fixture.
Treviso started like an express against Ulster; with their Irish opponents unable to get out of their own half in the opening minutes.
The Italians may have lost their last five games but the home side did not appear short on confidence as they dominated the breakdown area in the opening ten minutes.
Treviso missed a penalty after three minutes to take the lead as Berquist pulled his kick at goal wide of the posts but the Italians didn't have to wait long to get their name on the scoresheet.
The Treviso No.10 was successful with his second kick at goal from in front of the posts but the surprise deficit seemed to kickstart the visitors.
After a period of sustained pressure Ulster centre Cave scored a try from close range, sidestepping the Italian defence after scrumhalf Paul Marshall was held up short of the line – Ruan Pienaar added the extras after 11 minutes.
Ulster had only lost once in their last ten games and it was easy to see why as the Irish side started to look threatening every time they got ball in hand.
The visitors almost scored a second try after 33 minutes – after a kick through from Cave – Ulster wing Michael Allen was unable to gather the ball and the Italians touched behind for a 22m drop out.
Ulster had only previously lost to an Italian opposition once in 2011 and after soaking up sustained pressure in the opening ten minutes, they never looked like surrendering the points.
Ulster turned down a kickable early second-half penalty and opted for touch instead but Pienaar overhit his effort and Treviso survived.
For all their dominance in the loose, needless errors at the breakdown ensured referee George Clancy continually penalised the visitors and after 48 minutes further indiscipline from Ulster saw Berquist cut the deficit to just a solitary point for Treviso.
Ulster put some daylight between themselves and the Italians on 51 minutes as flanker Diack went over for a try after a period of sustained pressure – with Pienaar adding the extras.
If Ulster were expecting Treviso to collapse after the score, they were mistaken as Berquist reduced the arrears with a penalty on 57 minutes and then they got within two points of the Irishmen with another penalty from their flyhalf on 71 minutes.
Ulster were thankful of the final whistle as Treviso applied continued pressure in the last ten minutes but the visitors held firm to take the win.
Pens: Berquist 4
Tries: Cave, Diack
Cons: Pienaar 2
Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Ludovico Nitoglia, 13 Alberto Sgarbi, 12 Henry Bacchin, 11 Andrea Pratichetti, 10 Mat Berquist, 9 Fabio Semenzato, 8 Marco Filippucci, 7 Meyer Swanepoel, 6 Manoa Vosawai, 5 Valerio Bernabo, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 2 Franco Sbaraglini, 1 Matthew Muccignat.
Replacements: 16 Enrico Ceccato, 17 John Maistri, 18 Romulo Acosta, 19 Corniel Van Zyl, 20 Edward Lubian, 21 Alberto Lucchese, 22 Joe Van Niekerk, 23 Alberto Di Bernardo.
Ulster: 15 Jared Payne, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Michael Allen, 10 Ruan Pienaar, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Sean Doyle, 6 Robbie Diack, 5 Lewis Stevenson, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 Ricky Lutton, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Tom Court.
Replacements: 16 Niall Annett, 17 Callum Black, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Neil McComb, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Ricky Andrew, 23 Rory Scholes.
Referee: George Clancy
Assistant referees: Marius Mitrea, Andrea Spadoni
TMO: Carlo Damasco