Cardiff hold on against Kings in PE
PRO14 WRAP: Southern Kings narrowly lost their opening Pro14 match by four points as Cardiff Blues clinched a late 27-31 win at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The hosts took a 13-5 lead into the interval as they chased a first-ever victory over their ill-disciplined Welsh opponents, and led with 15 minutes to go.
But despite struggling to gain control of the match throughout, the Blues rallied to get their season underway with a vital win.
While, Munster underlined their PRO14 title credentials with an impressive bonus-point victory to sour Dean Ryan’s first game in charge of the Dragons.
Hat-trick-hero Dave Kearney inspired Leinster to a nervy win over 14-man Benetton, as the defending champions secured a Round One win in the PRO14 for the fifth year running.
Elsewhere Steff Evans and Paul Asquith scored first-half tries as Scarlets saw off a spirited Connacht in a tight and tense encounter at Parc y Scarlets.
All the scores and scorers!
SOUTHERN KINGS 27-31 CARDIFF BLUES
The Blues had lost their previous three Guinness PRO14 games and made a nervous start, Seb Davies conceding an early penalty which allowed Demetri Catrakilis to kick the Southern Kings’ first points of the new campaign.
Cardiff duly responded with Olly Robinson powering over in the corner, but another careless penalty almost instantaneously allowed Catrakilis to restore the hosts’ lead.
The ill-discipline continued from the visitors, and Tienie Burger made a sustained period of pressure count, going over shortly after Jarrod Evans had been sent to the sin-bin.
The Southern Kings couldn’t make their two-man advantage count ahead of the break after Nick Williams was penalised for a high tackle, and the Blues carried late momentum into the second half, with Liam Belcher pulling his side to within a point of their opponents.
But the home side weren’t ready to lie down, Jacques du Toit capitalising on a lost Blues lineout to set up Stefan Ungerer for a fine breakaway try.
Matthew Morgan set up a tense finish for the Southern Kings with Cardiff’s third try of the match, and scores from Kristian Dacey and Millard seemed to have put the visitors on course for victory.
Andell Loubser restored Southern Kings’ hope with a late score, but with both sides temporarily down to 14 men, the Blues clung on to victory.
For Southern Kings:
Tries: Burger, Ungerer 2
Cons: Catrakilis 3
Pens: Catrakilis 2
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Robinson, Belcher, Morgan, Dacey, Millard
Cons: Evans 3
Southern Kings: 15 Andell Loubser, 14 Christopher Hollis, 13 Howard Mnisi, 12 John-Thomas Jackson, 11 Yaw Penxe, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Lusanda Badiyana, 7 Arthur de Wee, 6 Martinus Burger, 5 John-Charles Astle (Captain), 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Alulutho Tshakweni.
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Xandre Vos, 18 Rossouw De Klerk, 19 Aston Fortuin, 20 Elrigh Louw, 21 Josh Allderman, 22 Bader Pretorius, 23 Sibusiso Sithole
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Jason Harries, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams; 8 Nick Williams (Captain), 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Brad Thyer,
Replacements: 16 Kristian Dacey, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 20 Will Boyde, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Harri Millard
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Divan Uys, Paul Mente (both South Africa)
TMO: Christie Du Preez (South Africa)
MUNSTER 39-9 DRAGONS
Munster’s impeccable record at Thomond Park is hardly a secret but the Dragons began fearlessly in Ryan’s first match as director of rugby.
New fly-half Sam Davies kicked the first points of the season with a penalty from in front of the posts but their lead was short-lived, as Munster gradually upped the tempo following a rusty start.
With a pack to rival any other in the Guinness PRO14, it was not long before the hosts turned to the forwards and it paid dividends when Botha crashed over from short-range.
JJ Hanrahan – in at fly-half, while rival No.10 Bleyendaal was shifted to inside centre – kicked a penalty to extend the gap, before Davies quickly reduced that to four points with his second.
But when Dragons hooker Richard Hibbard was sin-binned shortly before half time, the hosts turned the screw – with O’Donoghue sneakily dotting down from the bottom of a ruck.
For the visitors, it was a case of damage limitation while they were one man light but Daly had other ideas, chipping over the Dragons defence to plant the ball down in style.
That gave Munster a 13-point half-time lead but when full-back Mike Haley was sin-binned for a high tackle, the Dragons had a platform to attack from.
But attempting to pierce Munster’s red wall can be a fruitless task and the away side were frustratingly kept out, before shipping a fourth try of the afternoon as Bleyendaal rumbled over.
As the weather worsened, Munster focused on containing their lead before adding one last try through O’Shea.
Tries: Botha, O’Donoghue, Daly, Bleyendaal, Barron
Cons: Hanrahan 4
Pens: Hanrahan 2
Pens: Davies 3
Munster: 15 Mike Haley; 14 Darren Sweetnam, 13 Rory Scannell, 12 Tyler Bleyendaal, 11 Shane Daly; 10 JJ Hanrahan, 9 Nick McCarthy; 8 Arno Botha, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Jack O’Donoghue, 5 Billy Holland (captain);4 Fineen Wycherley, 3 Stephen Archer; 2 Kevin O’Byrne, 1 Jeremy Loughman,
Replacements: 16 Diarmuid Barron, 17 James Cronin, 18 Keynan Knox, 19 Darren O’Shea, 20 Chris Cloete, 21 Alby Mathewson, 22 Liam Coombes, 23 Jack O’Sullivan
Dragons: 15 Jordan Williams, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Adam Warren, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Owen Jenkins, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Rhodri Williams (captain); 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Huw Taylor, 5 Matthew Screech, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Richard Hibbard, 1 Brok Harris,
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Max Williams, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Tavis Knoyle, 22 Jacob Botica, 23 Tyler Morgan
Referee: Ben Blain (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Frank Murphy (Ireland), Finlay Brown (Scotland)
BENETTON 27-32 LEINSTER
The reigning champions came into the match on the back of three pre-season victories, and their confidence was evident in the opening stages as they made their Italian opponents answer a lot of questions across the park.
Adam Byrne got the game’s first try after patient Leinster play, but having had such little say in the game, Benetton hit back when Derrick Appiah bundled over in the corner.
Moments later, Tomas Baravalle drove over following a lineout to spark home hopes of only a second win over an Irish province since April 2016.
But a succession of penalties allowed Leinster to remain in the game and a well-worked try from Kearney in the final seconds of the half saw them go into the break in front.
An Ian Keatley penalty drew the hosts level, but Ratuva was shown a red card for an unsafe tackle on Kearney in the air, and the winger duly punished the hosts with his second try of the game.
Not ready to lie down, Joaquin Riera sparked a Benetton breakaway and substitute Luca Sperandio found room between the Leinster defence to steer his side back in front.
But Kearney swung the pendulum back in his side’s favour with his third try, before Harry Byrne’s first senior points sealed victory for the visitors.
Tries: Appiah, Baravalle, Sperandio
Cons: Keatley 3
Pens: Keatley 2
Tries: Byrne, Kearney 3
Cons: Byrne 3
Pens: Byrne 2
Benetton: 15 Angelo Esposito, 14 Ratuva Tavuyara, 13 Joaquin Riera, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Luca Petrozzi, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Marco Barbini, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Eli Snyman, 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Michele Mancini Parri, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Derrick Appiah
Replacements: 16 Engjel Makelara, 17 Cherif Traore, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Niccolò Cannone, 20 Giovanni Pettinelli, 21 Charly Trussardi, 22 Ian McKinley, 23 Luca Sperandio
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Adam Byrne, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Joe Tomane, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Ross Byrne, 9 Jamison Gibson-Park, 8 Caelan Doris, 7 Will Connors, 6 Max Deegan, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Ross Molony (Captain), 3 Michael Bent, 2 Rónan Kelleher , 1 Peter Dooley.
Replacements: 16 James Tracy, 17 Michael Milne, 18 Vakh Abdaladze, 19 Josh Murphy, 20 Scott Penny, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 Harry Byrne, 23 Hugo Keenan
Referee: Ben Whitehouse (Wales)
Assistant referees: Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Sean Brickell (Wales)
SCARLETS 18-10 CONNACHT
Following a disappointing 2018-19 campaign, where they finished fourth in Conference B and missed the PRO14 Finals Series, the onus was on Scarlets to race out of the traps.
But Connacht are a street-wise team and they frustrated Scarlets in the early stages, kicking regularly and controlling territory.
However, any side boasting the likes of Rob Evans, Samson Lee and Steff Evans, is going to come good eventually and they broke through mid-way through the first half.
A flat pass from Steffan Hughes released Ryan Conbeer down the right and he was brought down just shy of the five-metre line.
The Welsh side remained patient, moving from right to left cross eight phases before Steff Evans burrowed over from close range.
Connacht struggled to keep the ball in Scarlets territory throughout the first half and they were punished for their lethargy shortly before the break when Dan Jones threw a neat dummy ten metres out and slipped a pass to Asquith to score.
Things got worse for Connacht in the second half when replacement Eoin McKeon limped off with a knee injury and centre Tom Daly was sent to the sin-bin.
However, they bounced back by scoring their first try just shy of the hour-mark as Eoghan Masterson plucked the ball from the back of a ruck, kept his body low and powered over the line from a metre out.
Dan Jones eased Scarlets’ nerves with a penalty and as the weather worsened and the rain hammered down, Connacht’s hopes of a comeback were washed away.
Tries: Evans, Asquith
Pens: Jones 2
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Ryan Conbeer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Kieran Hardy, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Josh Macleod, 6 Tom Phillips, 5 Lewis Rawlins, 4 Steve Cummins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Phil Price, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Dan Davis, 21 Dane Blacker, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Corey Baldwin
Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Stephen Fitzgerald, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Tom Daly, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Conor Fitzgerald, 9 Caolin Blade, 8 Jarrad Butler (captain), 7 Colby Fainga’a, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Gavin Thornbury, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Paddy McAllister
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 Dominic Robertson-McCoy, 19 Ultan Dillane, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Kieran Marmion, 22 Peter Robb, 23 Darragh Leader
Referee: Stuart Berry (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa), Mike English (Wales)
TMO: Ian Davies (Wales)