Benetton produced a hugely impressive performance to defeat Conference B leaders Leinster, while Edinburgh, Zebre and Cardiff Blues also secured fine wins.
Edinburgh 52-14 Scarlets
A brilliant eight try performance saw Edinburgh win 52-14 at Murrayfield.
It was a thrilling first 40, with Edinburgh bursting out of the blocks against the reigning champions. The first try came on seven minutes, Blair Kinghorn given enough space in the corner to dot down. And just a minute later, the hosts added to that lead. Duhan van der Merwe found enough room to sprint down the wing and over, Sam Hidalgo-Clyde making it a deserved 12-0 lead.
And the Murrayfield crowd saw the hosts create a 19-point advantage before the 20th minute mark. The steal from Jaco van der Walt saw the offload to Hidalgo-Clyne, and his downfield sprint took him home from 50 metres. Scarlets’ horrendous start only continued as Edinburgh secured the bonus-point. Toying with the visitors, possession ended up with Magnus Bradbury, with the lead heading up to 26 points.
Scarlets eventually troubled the scoreboard on the half hour mark though, as part of a much better final 10 minutes. Tom Varndell found the corner in the best move that the Welsh side had formed all afternoon, and it was a try that reignited Scarlets. Dan Jones, having already converted, got their second try and further two points, to give Scarlets hope at 26-14 down at the break.
But there was to be no rejuvenation because Edinburgh started the half the same way they did the first. They added to their try tally through van der Merwe’s second, benefitting from Hidalgo-Clyne’s kick forward and stretching the lead again. Scarlets’ chance of getting anything from the game slipped away on the hour mark, with Luke Crosbie’s try being followed by the conversion to drag the score up to 40-14.
The seventh try arrived late on, following a sustained spell of Scarlets pressure that failed to produce anything. Instead, it was Mark Bennett who finished off a break and sauntered through. And the rout was completed on 80 minutes, with try number eight coming when Nathan Fowles ran through from 20 metres.
Tries: Kinghorn, Van der Merwe 2, Hidalgo-Clyne, Bradbury, Crosbie, Bennett, Fowles
Cons: Hidalgo-Clyne 5, Weir
Tries: Varndell, Jones
Cons: Jones 2
Zebre 34–32 Dragons
Stadio Tommaso Fattori
It was yet more despair for Dragons as they blew a big lead to lose 34-32 to Zebre.
They may not have a better chance anytime soon of ending their wretched away form, having led 26-10 when the sides went into the break. Zebre opened the scoring early on through Marcello Violi, making the most of a counter attack, with Carlo Canna converting. But Dragons bounced back immediately through Jared Rosser, the first of three for the wing. Canna made it 10-5, but the restart immediately brought Rosser’s second.
Zebre failed to deal with a burst forward and the conversion from Arwel Robson made it a 12-10 lead. Before the break, Rosser was celebrating his hat-trick, winning the race for Charlie Davies’ kick through to seal a perfect first 34 minutes. And the half ended on another high for a Dragons side who put in arguably their best 40 of the season. Davies got that fourth try for a 16-point lead at the break, but that’s where it all went downhill.
Dragons’ half-time talk was blown away within the first 10 minutes of the restart, with two quick-fire tries from Tommaso Castello and Tommaso D’Apice turning the game around and narrowing the gap down to seven points. A Robson penalty kept Dragons an arms length away.
Zebre soon had their fourth try though, Johan Meyer making the most of a misplaced pass in the middle. Canna was unable to add the two, leaving a tantalising two-point gap. Robson made that five points but Zebre retook the advantage through Canna, going down by the post. Robson could have seized victory right at the death, but his penalty went wide and extended the winless run away from home to three years.
Tries: Violi, Castello, D’Apice, Meyer, Canna
Cons: Canna 3
Tries: Rosser 3, Davies
Cons: Robson 3
Pens: Robson 2
Southern Kings 12–45 Cardiff Blues
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
A dominant display from Cardiff Blues saw them record a 45-12 win over Southern Kings.
Kings have struggled throughout their debut PRO14 campaign and within two minutes, it was clear tonight would be no easier. Nick Williams pushed for the line and the ball was recycled to Alex Cuthbert, who got the ball rolling on the demolition job. The lead was doubled on just seven minutes from Seb Davies. Having switched play infield, Rey Lee-Lo fed Davies and Jarrod Evans got his second conversion for a 14-0 lead.
Josh Turnbull stretched the lead with the third try on 25 minutes. Olly Robinson picked up possession after a powerful challenge from Williams, with Turnbull going over from a couple of metres. The bonus-point arrived on 33 minutes when Willis Halaholo worked his way through some weak challenges to ground, with a fifth following from Kirby Myhill, leaving it at 33-0 at the break.
Two minutes was all Cardiff needed to break down Kings from the first whistle in the second half, with try number five coming from Blaine Scully. Evans’ kick through bamboozled the hosts backline and Scully darted through to take the lead up to 40 points. Kings offered something though and got their first try, Ntabeni Dusika attacking from 15 metres out and crossing.
Myhill instantly responded though with his second, the finisher of a driving maul that penned Kings all the way back. Kings had the final points with their second try, Lindokuhle Welemu going through for their second try. It was mere consolation though, with Blues seeing out the 45-12 win.
Tries: Dukisa, Welemu
Yellow Card: Coetzee
Tries: Cuthbert, Davies, Turnbull, Halaholo, Myhill 2, Scully
Cons: Evans 5
Leinster 15–17 Benetton
Benetton shocked Leinster with a 17-15 win at the RDS.
Leinster struck first blood early on courtesy of Richardt Strauss, breaking out of the back of a driving maul to get Leinster onto the scoreboard. The two from Joey Carbery made it a seven-point lead, but the Italians hit back five minutes later. A lineout saw Benneton push forward, and Luca Bigi forced himself over, although the conversion didn’t follow.
The hosts struggled to break down the visitors for the remainder of the half but did manage to grab their second try before the sides headed off. A scrum eventually saw possession go wide to Barry Daly, who snuck inside the corner for a 12-5 half-time advantage.
Treviso again levelled though and the gap was back down to just two, with Federico Ruzza the recipient of a Jayden Hayward pass. And a shock was on the cards minutes later when Tommaso Allan took full advantage of Fergus McFadden’s horror offload and kicked his way downfield and over.
But Benneton lost Tito Tebaldi for a stamp with 20 minutes remaining after a Joey Carbery penalty cut the lead to two, and Leinster had the chance to pick up victory. But they were unable to add any extra points, succumbing to a shock 15-17 defeat.
Tries: Strauss, Daly
Tries: Bigi, Ruzza, Allan
Yellow Card: Tebaldi