Clinical Leinster remain unbeaten
PRO14 SUNDAY WRAP: Leinster remain yet to drop a point in the PRO14 this season after overcoming Ospreys 26-7 at the Liberty Stadium.
The Conference A leaders had to come from behind after an early penalty try for the hosts but three first-half scores gave Leinster a 19-7 lead at the break.
Peter Dooley powered over just before the hour mark to seal Leinster’s fifth bonus-point win in as many matches and consign the hosts to a second consecutive defeat.
Elsewhere, a late penalty from Angus O’Brien denied Zebre a first-ever win over Scarlets as the hosts claimed a narrow 18-17 victory in Llanelli.
Ospreys 7 Leinster 26
Ospreys were looking for improvements after last weekend’s disappointing defeat at Zebre and flew out the traps, Will Griffiths signalling his intent on his first PRO14 start with an early break into the Leinster 22.
The hosts kept the pressure on and went ahead through a penalty try on seven minutes following a dominant rolling maul which was pulled down by the visiting pack.
Scott Penny was sin-binned for his part in the incident to leave Leinster a man light and they had to dig in to keep the deficit at 7-0, with some stern defence keeping Ospreys at bay.
Inevitably, the visitors grew into the game and were level on 19 minutes.
A superb Harry Byrne penalty forced Ospreys deep into their own 22 and Leinster, so clinical from attacking lineouts, forced their way over through hooker James Tracy.
Byrne added the extras and repeated the feat when his side went ahead soon afterwards courtesy of Dave Kearney, who finished off a flowing move after an Ospreys lineout had been overthrown.
Leinster’s fly-half missed an achievable penalty as the visitors looked to stretch their lead and they did not have to wait too much longer to do so, Penny latching on to Byrne’s miss pass and dotting down in the right-hand corner after an initial juggle.
The score took the half-time lead to 19-7 and Ospreys spurned the chance to cut into that deficit when Cai Evans’ long-range penalty drifted wide of the upright.
Leo Cullen then rang the changes in his front row, replacing all three on 51 minutes, and Dooley made an almost instant impact with the try to seal the bonus point.
It came from a penalty five metres out which Leinster opted to tap and go – though the initial surge was held up a metre out, there was no stopping Dooley when he picked up and powered over.
Ospreys continued to knock at the Leinster door and dominated territory in the final 20 minutes but there was no way through against a side who have now won their last 24 PRO14 matches.
Try: Penalty try
Tries: Tracy, Kearney, Penny, Dooley
Cons: Byrne 3
Ospreys: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Mat Protheroe, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Joe Hawkins, 11 Luke Morgan, 10 Josh Thomas, 9 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Dan Lydiate (captain), 6 Will Griffiths, 5 Bradley Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Dewi Lake, 1 Rhodri Jones.
Replacements: 16 Ifan Phillips, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rhys Davies, 20 Olly Cracknell, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Callum Carson, 23 Hanno Dirksen.
Leinster: 15 Jimmy O’Brien, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Rory O’Loughlin, 12 Tommy O’Brien, 11 Dave Kearney, 10 Harry Byrne, 9 Luke McGrath, 8 Rhys Ruddock (captain), 7 Scott Penny , 6 Josh Murphy, 5 Scott Fardy, 4 Ross Molony, 3 Michael Bent, 2 James Tracy, 1 Michael Milne.
Replacements: 16 Dan Sheehan, 17 Peter Dooley, 18 Ciarán Parker, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Dan Leavy, 21 Hugh O’Sullivan, 22 David Hawkshaw, 23 Liam Turner.
Referee: Sam Grove-White
Assistant Referees: Adam Jones, Ben Whitehouse
TMO: Tim Hayes
Scarlets 18 Zebre 17
Scarlets’ Ryan Conbeer was making his first Guinness PRO14 appearance of the season and it took the wing just six minutes to get off the mark for the campaign as he finished an excellent move.
O’Brien’s conversion came back off the upright and Conbeer then had to be alert at the other end to touch down over his own line after Rizzi’s delicate grubber kick.
Rizzi and O’Brien exchanged penalties and Jac Morgan thought he had extended Scarlets’ lead after hitting a great line and brushing off tacklers en route to the line, only to see his effort disallowed due to a forward pass from Javan Sebastian in the build-up.
Zebre’s reprieve was brief as, just two minutes later, Scarlets did score their second try. Quick hands found Paul Asquith on the left touchline and his neat grubber kick inside sat up perfectly for scrum-half Dane Blacker, who skipped round a tackle and over the line.
O’Brien slotted the extras but Zebre dominated the remainder of the first half, spurning a couple of attacking lineouts inside the hosts’ 22.
Rizzi’s second penalty reduced the deficit to 15-6 at the break and he added another within two minutes of the restart to take his side within a converted score.
Both kickers then missed penalty attempts from the tee before Pierre Bruno set up a grandstand finale by intercepting Johnny McNicholl’s pass and winning the race to the line from 35 metres out.
Rizzi dragged his conversion wide to leave his side a point behind going into the final 25 minutes and the Italian outfit regularly put boot to ball in an attempt to pin Scarlets back.
They got their opportunity to go ahead with six minutes to play and Rizzi held his nerve to put the Italians within touching distance of their second win over Welsh opposition in as many weeks.
But in their eagerness to regain possession, Andrea Lovotti was penalised at a ruck and O’Brien seized Scarlets’ get out of jail free card to hand the hosts a second win of the season.
Tries: Conbeer, Blacker
Pens: O’Brien 2
Pens: Rizzi 4
Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Ryan Conbeer, 13 Steff Hughes (captain), 12 Paul Asquith, 11 Steff Evans; 10 Angus O’Brien, 9 Dane Blacker, 8 Sione Kalamafoni, 7 Jac Morgan, 6 Uzair Cassiem, 5 Morgan Jones, 4 Jac Price, 3 Javan Sebastian, 2 Marc Jones, 1 Rob Evans.
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Danny Drake, 20 Ed Kennedy, 21 Will Homer, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Tyler Morgan.
Zebre: 15 Junior Laloifi, 14 Pierre Bruno, 13 Giulio Bisegni (c), 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Giovanni D’Onofrio, 10 Antonio Rizzi, 9 Joshua Renton, 8 Lorenzo Masselli, 7 Antoine Koffi, 6 Nardo Casolari, 5 Ian Nagle, 4 Leonard Krumov, 3 Eduardo Bello, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Paolo Buonfiglio.
Replacements: 16 Oliviero Fabiani, 17 Andrea Lovotti, 18 Matteo Nocera, 19 Gabriele Venditti, 20 Massimo Ceciliani, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Paolo Pescetto, 23 Michelangelo Biondelli.
Referee: Sean Gallagher
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans, Gwyn Morris
TMO: Wayne Davies