Clinical Ulster keeps Kings winless
PRO14 WRAP: John Cooney scored a double to ensure Ulster ended their South African double-header on a high.
The Irish province sealed a comfortable 42-17 victory over the Southern Kings.
* In another Saturday match the Scarlets powered their way to the top of Conference B with a ruthless eight-try 54-19 victory over Zebre.
* Early tries from Callum Gibbins and Nick Frisby were enough to propel Glasgow Warriors to their first win, as they edged a tight encounter with Cardiff Blues 17-13.
* Sam Parry was the unlikely hero for Ospreys as the hooker’s hat-trick ensured his side earned their first win of the season – a 24-20 triumph against a 14-man Benetton.
We look at the Saturday matches!
Scarlets 54-10 Zebre
Scarlets powered their way to the top of Conference B with a ruthless eight-try victory over Zebre in west Wales.
Brad Mooar’s side were in determined mood all afternoon at Parc y Scarlets and grabbed the bonus point by half-time thanks to scores for Kieran Hardy (2), Ryan Conbeer and Josh Macleod.
Zebre got a try before the interval through Marco Manfredi but after the break Taylor Davies, Johnny McNicholl (2) and Josh Helps ensured Scarlets go into the break top of the pile.
Scarlets went into this one two from two but without scoring a bonus point, and right from the off the four-try boundary looked likely to be breached.
It took just 90 seconds for the opening score as wing Steff Evans broke through midfield and fed back inside for the first of Hardy’s tries.
Dan Jones kicked the conversion and where the first score was backs-based the second was most definitely forwards, as Macleod powered in amid a powerful catch-and-drive.
Michelangelo Biondelli kicked a penalty before Conbeer struck back with Scarlets’ third, but then Zebre were right back in it as young hooker Manfredi bulldozed over.
There was still time for Hardy to grab his second on 28 minutes to build a 26-10 half-time lead, and after the break it didn’t take long for hooker Davies to grab a try on Championship debut.
Jones once again reliably converted before skipper Hughes chipped through on 50 minutes – allowing full-back McNicholl to secure the sixth.
Zebre kept putting pressure on and almost had their second on the hour-mark only to see it chalked off for a penalty the other way, with Scarlets grabbing their seventh through Helps and a superb catch out wide for No.8 – that man again McNicholl.
Man of the Match
New Zealand-born fullback McNicholl and captain Hughes pushed him close, but Hardy takes man of the match due to being at the centre of a scything attacking display.
Hardy got things rolling with a great support line for his try on two minutes and wrapped up the bonus before the half-hour – the 23-year-old No.9 is taking his chance in the team well.
Play of the day
We could have picked one of two here – in the first half with outside centre Hughes gently grubbering through for Conbeer, but then improving on that effort in the second period.
Same situation with Scarlets attacking in the 22, this time Hughes producing a delightful lofted dink for McNicholl to catch mid-dive under the posts.
For the Scarlets:
Tries: Hardy 2, Macleod, Conbeer, Davies, McNicholl 2, Helps
Cons: Jones 4, O’Brien 3
Yellow card: Lewis Rawlins (Scarlets, 56)
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 Juandre Kruger, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Taylor Davies, 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Phil Price, 17 Marc Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 Josh Helps, 20 Dan Davis, 21 Jonathan Evans, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Corey Baldwin
Zebre: 15 Charlie Walker, 14 Paula Balekana, 13 James Elliott, 12 Enrico Lucchin, 11 Pierre Bruno, 10 Michelangelo Biondelli, 9 Joshua Renton, 8 Giovanni Licata, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Iacopo Bianchi, 5 Ian Nagle (captain), 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Alexandru Tarus, 2 Marco Manfredi, 1 Daniele Rimpelli
Replacements: 16 Massimo Ceciliani, 17 Paolo Buonfiglio, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 George Biagi, 20 Apisai Tauyavuca, 21 Nicolò Casilio, 22 Leonardo Mantelli, 23 Federico Mori
Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones, Justin Williams (both Wales)
TMO: Charles Samson (Scotland)
Southern Kings 17-42 Ulster
A John Cooney double ensured Ulster ended their South African double-header on a high after the Irish province sealed a comfortable victory over Southern Kings.
Hurting from a hammering against Toyota Cheetahs a week earlier, Dan McFarland’s men bounced back in emphatic fashion by running in six tries against the hosts in Port Elizabeth.
Ulster bagged the try bonus-point within 30 minutes with Cooney’s opener quickly followed by further first-half scores from Luke Marshall, Rob Herring and Matt Faddes.
Cooney’s second made sure of the result before the half-time whistle had blown, while Sean Reidy made it six after the restart as Kings hit back through Tertius Kruger and Aston Fortuin.
Ulster’s defeat to Cheetahs was their first to a South African opponent in the Championship and they came out of the blocks with a point to prove at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
Only a minute had passed when smart-thinking from Cooney saw the scrum-half touch down just to the right of the posts for the opening try, before adding the simple conversion.
Kings briefly rallied and their first sustained period of possession resulted in three points after Ulster were penalised in front of the posts, with Demetri Catrakilis kicking the penalty.
But it was not long before Ulster stepped on the gas, with Marshall spotting a hole in the hosts’ defence before sprinting between the posts to present Cooney with a simple conversion.
A third try arrived just three minutes later when Herring capitalised on more sloppy defending from the Kings to cross the whitewash, with the extras added again to make it 21-3.
The bonus-point was secured before the half-hour mark, Faddes this time the man to benefit after pouncing on a clever cross-field kick to score as Cooney converted successfully.
Cooney then bagged his second try of the game, but only after brilliant deception from Marcell Coetzee left Kings’ defenders trailing in his wake before putting his teammate through.
Kruger pulled one back for the hosts just before half-time, with Catrakilis converting, and Kings showed more resilience after the restart as nearly 20 minutes passed without another point.
That scoreless period was eventually ended in the 58th minute when Reidy crashed over for Ulster’s sixth try from a driving lineout, with Cooney maintaining his perfect kicking record.
Fortuin scored a consolation for Kings and they almost added a third in the closing minutes, only for Ulster’s defence to hold firm as the visitors completed an impressive win.
Man of the match
There were a number of potential candidates for the Ulstermen, most notably Cooney after his 22-point haul.
But Faddes caused the Kings’ defence no end of problems all afternoon and grabbed the bonus-point try after collecting Billy Burns’ cross-field kick.
Play of the day
Cooney may have been the man to dot down Ulster’s fifth try but it was Coetzee who deserved all the plaudits after bouncing off the Kings defence with a powerful run through the middle.
The South African No.8 then threw a magnificent windmill dummy, leaving another defender chasing his shadow, before offloading to the onrushing Cooney who cantered over the line.
For the Southern Kings:
Tries: Kruger 2
Cons: Catrakilis 2
Tries: Cooney 2, Marshall, Herring, Faddes, Reidy
Cons: Cooney 6
Yellow card: Adam McBurney (Ulster, 67)
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Josiah Twum-Boafo, 13 Tertius Kruger, 12 JT Jackson, 11 Courtney Winnaar, 10 Demetri Catrakilis, 9 Stefan Ungerer, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Tienie Burger, 6 Lusanda Badiyana (captain), 5 Aston Fortuin, 4 Jerry Sexton, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Alandre van Rooyen, 1 Juan Schoeman
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Alulutho Tshakweni, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 JC Astle, 20 Bobby de Wee, 21 Josh Allderman, 22 Sibusiso Sithole, 23 Elrigh Louw
Ulster: 15 Matt Faddes, 14 Craig Gilroy, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Louis Ludik, 10 Billy Burns, 9 John Cooney, 8 Marcell Coetzee, 7 Sean Reidy, 6 Matthew Rea, 5 Sam Carter, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Tom O’Toole, 2 Rob Herring (captain), 1 Eric O’Sullivan
Replacements: 16 Adam McBurney, 17 Kyle McCall, 18 Ross Kane, 19 Kieran Treadwell, 20 Greg Jones, 21 Dave Shanahan, 22 Angus Curtis, 23 James Hume
Referee: Craig Evans (Wales)
Assistant referees: Ian Davies (Wales), Ben Crouse (South Africa)
TMO: Johan Greeff (South Africa)
Glasgow Warriors 17-13 Cardiff Blues
Early tries from Callum Gibbins and Nick Frisby were enough to propel Glasgow Warriors to their first win of the Pro14 season, as they edged a tight encounter with Cardiff Blues.
Aled Summerhill hit back for the visitors to quash home hopes of running away with the tie, and the contest then remained close-fought as both sides searched desperately for a result to get their respective seasons back on track.
Victory for last year’s beaten finalists gets them off the mark in Conference A and leaves the Blues with just one victory in their last eight fixtures against Scottish opponents.
It was a punishing start for the visitors as Glasgow capitalised on a period of pressure in the game’s early stages, going in front in the sixth minute when skipper Gibbins bundled over in the corner following a lineout.
Frisby stretched their lead moments later, collecting from Nick Grigg after the centre had been unleashed smartly by Warriors fly-half Brandon Thomson.
But the Blues – who had barely had a touch by this point – hit back immediately, Summerhill crossing the line with his side’s first opportunity to help half the deficit.
Cardiff gradually increased their standing in the game and gained more ground through Jarrod Evans’ boot, and Brad Thyer’s huge hit on Ruaridh Jackson riled the home support as the game’s intensity increased a notch ahead of half-time.
Summerhill recovered well after a defensive error had almost allowed Grigg a scoring opportunity early in the second period, but Thomson did restore the hosts’ seven-point lead from the kicking tee.
Evans got the Blues’ first points of the half on the board shortly after, but the Warriors remained on top and Summerhill was again on hand to deny a home score following a lineout maul.
The away side pushed for a way through the Warriors defence, but a yellow card for Rory Thornton with little over 10 minutes remaining made their task all the more difficult.
A knock-on at the tryline meant the Warriors couldn’t put the result beyond doubt in the closing minutes, but they held on to seal a crucial win.
MAN OF THE MATCH
New Zealand born Grigg was a constant menace in all areas of the pitch, and his defence-splitting run and dummy helped put the Warriors on course for their first win of the fresh campaign.
But – despite finishing on the losing side – Olly Robinson stood above the rest in the first 15 minutes and helped pull the Blues back into the tie after they had surrendered two early scores.
PLAY OF THE DAY
The Scotstoun crowd were treated to a brilliant passage of play early on in the clash, with Frisby’s second try of the season showcasing some fantastic Pro14 Rugby action.
Thomson unlocked the Blues defence with a smart pass to Grigg, and his lung-busting run drew in a challenge from Evans, opening up the perfect chance for Frisby to go over.
Tries: Gibbins, Frisby
Cons: Thomson 2
For the Blues:
Pens: Evans 2
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Kyle Steyn, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Stafford McDowall, 11 Rory Hughes, 10 Brandon Thomson, 9 Nick Frisby, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Callum Gibbins (captain), 6 Bruce Flockhart, 5 Kiran McDonald, 4 Rob Harley, 3 Adam Nicol, 2 Grant Stewart, 1 Alex Allan
Replacements: 16 Johnny Matthews, 17 George Thornton, 18 D’arcy Rae, 19 Tim Swinson, 20 Chris Fusaro, 21 Jamie Dobie, 22 Huw Jones, 23 Glenn Bryce
Cardiff Blues: 15 Matthew Morgan, 14 Owen Lane, 13 Garyn Smith, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Aled Summerhill, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams (captain), 8 Will Boyde, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Rory Thornton, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Dimitri Arhip, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Brad Thyer
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Scott Andrews, 19 Shane Lewis-Hughes, 20 Nick Williams, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Harri Millard
Referee: Sean Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Ben Blain (Scotland), Johnny Erskine (Ireland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)
Ospreys 24-20 Benetton
Sam Parry was the unlikely hero for Ospreys as the hooker’s hat-trick ensured his side earned their first Pro14 win of the season against 14-man Benetton.
Having conceded 91 points in away defeats to Ulster and Leinster in their opening two games, Ospreys were in desperate need of a result in their first home game of the campaign.
And they duly delivered as Parry crashed over the whitewash twice before half-time and once more after the restart, with Scott Williams also dotting down to secure all five points.
Benetton had lead twice through first-half Keatley penalties but a red card for Marco Lazzaroni proved too big a hurdle for the Italians to overcome as they slipped to a third straight defeat.
Despite beginning the season with back-to-back defeats, Benetton started strongly at the Liberty Stadium and an early Keatley penalty gave the visitors the lead inside five minutes.
But their momentum was brought to a shuddering halt in the 11th minute when Lazzaroni was sent off for a high tackle on Ospreys fly-half Luke Price after a TMO review.
Allen Clarke’s men took immediate advantage of their extra man, with Parry crashing over from the back of a driving maul for his side’s opening try to edge Ospreys ahead.
Benetton hit back with another three points from the boot of Keatley before the Welsh side restored their lead with their second try, Parry benefiting from a powerful pick-and-drive.
Ospreys soon began to turn the screw and a sustained spell of possession ended in a third try through Williams after the ball was worked wide by substitute Hanno Dirksen.
Price subsequently added the extras to make up for his previous two missed efforts at goal and extend the lead to 17-6, which is how it remained going into the half-time interval.
On the resumption of play, Ospreys continued to pile the pressure on the tiring Italians with their forward dominance and it was not long before they secured their bonus-point score.
It was Parry once again who put the finishing touches to another driving maul from a lineout around 10 metres out, completing his hat-trick in the 43rd minute to cap off a special night.
That proved to be Parry’s last act of the night as he was given a deserved rest, with Scott Otten taking his place in one of several changes made by Clarke after the restart.
Benetton were given a glimmer of hope when Williams was sin-binned, only for Ospreys to remain steadfast in defence and see off wave after wave of attack from the visitors.
But Kieran Crowley’s side refused to give up and after Olly Cracknell also saw yellow, Antonio Rizzi and Leonardo Sarto dotted down to secure a losing bonus-point for Benetton.
Man of the match
Who else but Parry? Ospreys did not get off to the best of starts in Swansea but the hooker made the difference with his powerhouse display after Benetton were reduced to 14 men.
His accuracy at the lineout was consistent throughout, while the 27-year-old also showed huge experience from the back of the driving mauls as he collected a rare hat-trick.
Play of the day
Patience was a virtue for Ospreys in the build-up to their third try as they made the most of their extra player by retaining possession and used their forward strength to gain territory.
After initially looking for a gap down the left, the ball was recycled and went right through the hands of Sam Cross, Price and Dirksen before finding Williams in plenty of space to cross in the corner.
Tries: Parry 3, Williams
Cons: Price 2
Tries: Rizzi, Sarto
Cons: Rizzi 2
Pens: Keatley 2
Yellow cards: Scott Williams (Ospreys, 55), Olly Cracknell (Ospreys, 73)
Red card: Marco Lazzaroni (Benetton, 11)
Ospreys: 15 Cai Evans, 14 Luke Morgan, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler, 11 Keelan Giles, 10 Luke Price, 9 Matthew Aubrey, 8 Gareth Evans, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Lloyd Ashley, 4 Dan Lydiate (captain), 3 Tom Botha, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Rhodri Jones
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Gheorghe Gajion, 19 Will Griffiths, 20 Dan Baker, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Tom Williams, 23 Hanno Dirksen
Benetton: 15 Luca Sperandio, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Ignacio Brex, 12 Alberto Sgarbi (captain), 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Luca Petrozzi, 8 Toa Halafihi, 7 Giovanni Pettinelli, 6 Marco Lazzaroni, 5 Marco Fuser, 4 Niccolò Cannone, 3 Michele Mancini Parri, 2 Engjel Makelara, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Tomas Baravalle, 17 Damiano Borean, 18 Filippo Alongi, 19 Lodovico Manni, 20 Charly Trussardi, 21 Ian McKinley, 22 Antonio Rizzi, 23 Joaquin Riera
Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Gwyn Morris (Wales), Simon Rees (Wales)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ireland)