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Wins for Leinster, Scarlets, Bennetton, Cheetahs and Munster

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Leinster kicked off the PRO14 action with a comfortable bonus-point win over Zebre before Scarlets saw off Glasgow in Llanelli.

Elsewhere, Benetton and the Cheetahs left it late to defeat the Dragons and Cardiff Blues respectively while Munster won at the Kings.

Leinster 41-6 Zebre

Conference B pacesetters Leinster made it triumph number 14 in the PRO14 as they easily dispatched Zebre, winning 41-6 at the RDS.

The Irish side had the match sewn up by the break as they crossed three times, with the second-half all about wrapping up the bonus-point.

James Lowe, Rory O’Loughlin and Max Deegan were the try-scorers in the first period, with Carlo Canna’s penalties making it a 17-6 buffer.

And the fourth try arrived on the hour mark for the hosts in Dublin, as number eight Deegan crossed for his brace to complete the maximum.

Leinster weren’t done there though as Lowe also grabbed a second late on before replacement Vakh Abdaladze and Bryan Byrne also scored.

For Zebre this is their 14th negative of this PRO14 campaign as they remain rooted to the foot of the Conference A table after 18 matches.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Lowe 2, O’Loughlin, Deegan 2, Abdaladze, B Byrne
Cons: R Byrne 3

For Zebre:
Pens: Canna 2

Scarlets 26-8 Glasgow Warriors

Scarlets inflicted only a third PRO14 defeat on Glasgow as they managed to see off the Warriors 26-8 at the Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.

It was a hard-fought victory for the Welsh region, who have stayed in touch with Leinster at the summit of Conference B with this home win.

A low-scoring first-half saw Scarlets go in 8-0 to the good thanks to Rhys Patchell’s try in the 28th minute and a Leigh Halfpenny penalty.

But in the second period they managed to pull clear as Gareth Davies, the boot of Halfpenny and a second Patchell try saw them prevail.

Glasgow, who remain 12 points clear at the Conference A summit, did give themselves a chance of turning things around when scrum-half Henry Pyrgos crossed on 62 minutes to make it 19-8. But they were well beaten in the end as Scarlets claimed a key victory in Llanelli.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: Patchell 2, G Davies
Cons: Halfpenny
Pens: Halfpenny 3

For Glasgow:
Try: Pyrgos
Pen: Horne

 

Benetton 29-27 Dragons

Benetton’s Tito Tebaldi snatched a 29-27 victory for his side at the Stadio Monigo.

A penalty inside two minutes soon produced the perfect start for Benetton. Winning the line-out, Federico Ruzza was driven over the line for a dream opening. The extras from Tommaso Allan gave the Dragons a challenge from the off, though a quick-fire penalty reduced the lead down to 7-3. A second kick, again from Arwel Robson, left Benetton’s lead down at just a solitary point.

A five-minute spell before the half-hour mark gave the Italian side full control though, with two more tries taking the lead to double figures. The first of the two came from Monty Ioane, coming after Tommaso Benvenuti was held up just short. And five minutes later, Allan got the third. The kicker’s two conversion in the half resulted in a hefty 19-6 before the break. And the bonus point was wrapped up right on 40 minutes, Tebaldi going through for the deserved 26-6 lead.

Dragons had something to cheer 10 minutes into the second half when their first try arrived. Rynard Landman provided some hope by cutting the lead in half, but they still looked well short of building any sort of fightback.

The visitors were improving though and cut the gap down to just six with their second try of the night. Jared Rosser found the space to go through with 20 minutes still to play, Robson again making no mistake with the kick. Dragons then completed the shock turnaround with 15 minutes remaining with a third converted try. Connor Edwards shook the hosts with the third Dragons effort, but that jubilation turned to desperation at full-time.

The 81st minute produced Benetton’s pivotal moment with the final kick of the game. The Dragons were penalised as the Italians piled the pressure on and Tebaldi kept his nerve to record the two-point 29-27 win.

The scorers:

For Benetton:
Tries: Ruzza, Ioane, Allan, Tebaldi
Cons: Allan 3
Pen: Tebaldi

For Dragons:
Tries: Hill, Rosser, Edwards
Cons: Robson 3
Pens: Robson 2

 

Cheetahs 29-27 Cardiff Blues

A last-minute penalty try robbed Cardiff Blues as Cheetahs stole a 29-27 win in Bloemfontein.

A quickfire penalty from Gareth Anscombe was soon equalled by the hosts’ Niel Marais in a first half that Cheetahs were to be the better side. Winger Sibhale Maxane found the line following a disjointed line-out from the Blues, Clayton Blommetjies feeding Maxane for 8-3.

Blommetjies soon found himself in the sin-bin after deliberate knock on, with the subsequent penalty from Anscombe reducing the gap back down to a couple of points. Cheetahs didn’t let the lack of men affect them though as they recorded the second try midway through the half. Francois Venter made the most of an attacking position and capitalised on a slip by Alex Cuthbert, Marais making it 15-6.

Cardiff Blues’ half was to get worse when Owen Lane saw yellow for a push, and the Cheetahs took full control of his indiscretion by sending Maxane through for his second of the match.

The Blues recovered quickly after the break and the returning Lane made up for his yellow card with a try. Steve Shingler added two to cut the lead down to 22-13. And things got even more interesting right on the hour with a second try. Willis Halaholo had just saved the Blues from conceding a fourth, and at the other end he played the major role as he cut the gap down to just two points.

And the turnaround was completed with 10 minutes left to play. Cardiff Blues had come out of the second half rejuvenated, and Halaholo combined with Rey Lee-Lo, the latter finding the line and Shingler adding the two for 27-22. Cardiff lost Cuthbert for the final few minutes to a yellow card, and that almost proved pivotal. A late scare from the TMO produced a penalty from close range, but Cheetahs picked up the penalty try right at the death to break Blues’ hearts and secure a 29-27 win.

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Maxwane 2, Venter, Penalty try
Cons: Marais 2
Pen: Marais
Yellow Card: Blommetjies

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Lane, Halaholo, Lee-Lo
Cons: Shingler 3
Pens: Anscombe 2
Yellow Cards: Lane, Cuthbert

 

Southern Kings 22-39 Munster

It was a slow opening but Munster took the lead on 17 minutes, with the always reliable boot of Ian Keatley putting Munster three to the good.

But the Kings were the better side in the first half an hour and a yellow card to Gerbrandt Grobler quickly set the hosts on their way to the first try. The extra man allowed Andisa Ntsila to make the most of space out wide and go over. Masixole Banda added two and was soon preparing for another as Kings got their second try.

Stephan Greeff again capitalised only three minutes after the opening try, 12-3 the advantage on the half hour. A Banda penalty stretched that further but Munster’s first try reduced the arrears.

Niall Scannell went through from short after getting the extra man back, and it was quickly followed by a second. Calvin Nash went on a wonderful solo mission, dummying his way around Kings bodies and cutting the half-time score to 15-13 in the hosts’ favour.

Rejuvenated from the late rally, Munster took charge after the break. Their lead came from CJ Stander eight minutes into the half, and try number four saw Kings blown away. Rory Scannell’a pass sent Dan Goggin through for a deserved 25-15 lead.

Rhys Marshall increases the advantage with the fifth try, for a 32-15 the lead. Kilcoyne made the lead even bigger, with a late consolation from Michael Makasa finishing it at 39-22.

The scorers:

For Kings:
Tries: Ntsila, Greeff, Makase
Cons: Banda 2
Pen: Banda

For Munster:
Tries: N Scannell, Nash, Stander, Goggin, Marshall, Kilcoyne
Cons: Keatley 3
Pen: Keatley
Yellow Card: Grobler

Thanks to

Ospreys and Edinburgh with bonus point wins

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Ospreys and Ulster picked up bonus-point victories in the PRO14 on Friday as they overcame Connacht and Edinburgh respectively.

Ospreys 39-10 Connacht

Ospreys eased to a 39-10 victory over Connacht at the Liberty Stadium.

Tries from Jeff Hassler, Dan Evans, Scott Otten, Ashley Beck and Hanno Dirkson saw the Welsh region ease to victory. Craig Ronaldson’s first-half effort was as good as it got for Connacht.

With both sides struggling in the PRO14 this campaign, Ospreys took charge inside two minutes with Dan Biggar nailing the first penalty of the evening. The Welsh international made it two from two before the clock had reached 10 minutes, in a half that the hosts largely controlled. Evans saw yellow for the home side for what looked like a knock-on, but the man disadvantage actually helped them stretch their lead.

The first try came for the 14 men, with Hassler ignoring the other 13. Possession was stolen on half-way and Ospreys’ 14 went the length unchallenged, allowing Biggar to make it a 13-0 lead.

Connacht got themselves back in the game with their first points of the night though on 21 minutes. Ronaldson had only entered the field a couple of minutes prior but he received the pass from Jarrad Butler to sprint through. The try scorer added two to cut the gap down to six.

The returning Evans built the lead back up though with Ospreys’ second try of the night. He found the line following a line-out to restore the advantage just before the half-hour. A kick from Jack Carty reduced the half-time deficit to 20-10.

The Ospreys added to their lead though after the break with try number three. A quick penalty saw Otten find the line, the TMO giving the all clear for a 27-10 lead.

And on the hour mark, Ospreys virtually sealed the win with a fourth try. A line-out caught Connacht napping and Beck went through, 34-10 the ever growing advantage.

Things soon got worse with try five, Dirksen given time and space to ease his way over for 39-10.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: Hassler, Evans, Otten, Beck, Dirksen
Cons: Biggar 4
Pens: Biggar 2
Yellow Card: Evans

For Connacht:
Try: Ronaldson
Con: Ronaldson
Pen: Carty

Edinburgh 20-32 Ulster

Ulster picked up a 32-20 win in a thriller at Myreside.

Darren Cave, Charles Piutau, John Cooney and Iain Henderson outscored the hosts efforts from Duncan Weir and a penalty.

It took nine minutes for the scoreboard to get ticking, with Weir’s easy penalty easing the hosts into an early lead. That lasted just a couple of minutes though, with Ulster soon grabbing the first try of the night. Jacob Stockdale found room down the wing to go on a run and he saw Cave in space, with the try swiftly following. Cooney added two to put Ulster into a 7-3 lead.

Weir was again on hand with his second penalty of the night to cut the gap back down to just a point, but Ulster again responded with a try.

Their second of the night came from Piutau, who had found himself in space following the switch of the ball to the wing. Cooney missed his effort this time but soon made up for it.

The Ulster 10 was the next man over the line on 24 minutes, the end man after a slick passing move that cut the hosts backline open. He made no mistake with the conversion either.

Edinburgh responded though before the break. Weir had the pitch to himself after stealing possession and went 60 metres downfield before converting, Ulster’s lead cut to 19-13 at the break.

Cooney added another three following the restart though to put the visitors back in command. But a penalty try brought Edinburgh within a couple of points with the Ulster defence struggling to keep the hosts out. With the gap down to two, a Cooney penalty was vital to take the lead back up to five. And Henderson wrapped up the win in the final moments for a 32-20 win.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Weir, Penalty try
Con: Weir
Pens: Weir 2

For Ulster:
Tries: Cave, Piutau, Cooney, Henderson
Cons: Cooney 3
Pens: Cooney 2

Thanks to

PRO14 Preview – Dragon v Cheetahs

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The Dragons return to Rodney Parade for their final home game of the season as they take on South African side the Cheetahs in the PRO14.

The Men from Newport returned to training following a seven-day break after their trip to South Africa where they lost out to Southern Kings.

Dragons Head Coach, Bernard Jackman has included Welsh Internationals Cory Hill, Elliot Dee and Hallam Amos in the changes he has made for this Friday’s clash.

Hallam Amos is named on the wing in the back three and joins Ashton Hewitt and South African full-back Zane Kirchner. The centre partnership is all change as Sam Beard and Connor Edwards get the nod whilst there are also changes in the half-backs as fly-half Arwel Robson and scrum-half Sarel Pretorius return to the starting XV.

The front row sees two changes made to it as hooker Elliot Dee returns alongside loosehead prop Sam Hobbs and tighthead prop Lloyd Fairbrother. Whilst skipper Cory Hill returns to join Joe Davies in the second row, and Harrison Keddie, Aaron Wainwright and Lewis Evans make up the back row.

The bench sees Ellis Shipp, Gerard Ellis, Dan Suter, Max Williams, Taine Basham, Dan Babos, Adam Warren and Jared Rosser all named.

Looking back at the Dragons previous game, Jackman commented: “We have looked at why the game got away from us and in fairness, the boys have been really positive following the week off. Following that we had a good week training ahead of the match.

“We have some older heads back with the likes of Hallam, Elliot and Cory as well as Sarel who is back in the team. This gives us a little bit more experience which is important particularly when you come back from a poor performance.

“We would like to think that there are areas in our game that we can challenge the Cheetahs. We have been watching them since Round 1 in the PRO14 so we know what they are about and we know that they have some very good players – we are well aware of their strengths.”

He continued; “It’s an important game in particular given the fact how we have played against Edinburgh and the Kings so we need to show some character. We want to finish our last game at Rodney Parade with our heads held high.”

Meanwhile, Cheetahs coach Rory Duncan has announced his team with some changes from last week. William Small-Smith is back in action after injury. He will be replacing Craig Barry who was on loan from the Stormers.

Niel Marais moves to inside centre, replacing the injured Nico Lee. Rabz Maxwano moves in to the starting line-up to replace Luther Obi who sustained an injury in the previous match.

Fred Zeilinga will be the starting fly half, while Zee Mkhabela moves to the bench with Tian Meyer as the starting scrum-half.

Finally, Oupa Mohoje will be wearing the number seven jersey with Henco Venter providing cover on the bench.

The Cheetahs are in need of adding to their recent win over Connacht in order to keep their Final Series challenge in good health. Dragons, however, will be eager to rebound from their recent loss to the Southern Kings.

This will be the Cheetahs’ first encounter with the Dragons.

“We’ve matured a lot as a side and our focus will be on what we need to do. We’ve have grown tremendously playing in European conditions,” said captain Francois Venter.

“The biggest lesson we’ve learned in PRO14 is to have control over the moment and to make a positive out of a negative on field.”

The teams:

Dragons: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Sam Beard, 12 Connor Edwards, 11 Hallam Amos, 10 Arwel Robson, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 Aaron Wainwright, 6 Harrison Keddie, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Joe Davies, 3 Lloyd Fairbrother, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Gerard Ellis, 18 Dan Suter, 19 Max Williams, 20 Taine Basham, 21 Dan Babos, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Jared Rosser

Cheetahs: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Niel Marais, 11 Sibhale Maxano, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Ox Nche
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Charles Marais, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Henco Venter, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Clinton Swart, 23 AJ Coertzen

Cassiem leaves Cheetahs for Scarlets

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The Scarlets have announced that Springbok number eight Uzair Cassiem will join the Welsh region ahead of the 2018/19 PRO14 season.

The 28-year-old South African has put pen to paper on a deal with the region and will join the Scarlets from fellow PRO14 side the Cheetahs.

Cassiem, who has featured on eight occasions for the Springboks, started his playing career with the Golden Lions in 2011.

The ball carrying number eight is the third new name added to Scarlets’ squad for the forthcoming season, alongside loose forward Blade Thomson from Super Rugby’s Hurricanes and centre Kieron Fonotia from the Ospreys.

Current internationals Aaron Shingler, Ryan Elias, James Davies, Rhys Patchell, Wyn Jones, Gareth Davies, Jake Ball and Jonathan Davies have put pen to paper on new deals with the Scarlets as well as Dylan Evans, Jonathan Evans and Lewis Rawlins.

Commenting on the news, Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac said: “Uzair is a current international who possesses the skills that we believe will suit the way we play the game. He’s a dynamic player that likes to carry and has the ability to offload, is a very physical individual and has good aerial skills.

“He’s currently playing at the highest level of the game and faced Wales in the recent autumn series at number eight. He has the ability to play across the back row but has been signed primarily as an eight.”

Jon Daniels, Scarlets general manager of rugby, said: “Uzair has shown his capabilities in the PRO14, Super Rugby and internationally for the Springboks. When we met him we were struck by his desire to take on a new rugby challenge and to compete for silverware.

“What he brings on and off the field will be a welcome addition to our squad. We look forward to welcoming him to the Scarlets prior to next season.”

Cassiem added: “The Scarlets are known throughout the world and are playing some great rugby at the moment. When I met with Jon and Wayne it was clear to see the ambitions of the club and the environment at the Scarlets is just what I am looking for.

“I’ll be giving my all for the Cheetahs for the rest of the season whilst looking forward to the next chapter of my rugby career in South Wales.”

PRO14 wins for Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh

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There were wins for Cardiff Blues and Edinburgh in the PRO14 on Friday as they saw off Benetton Rugby and Munster respectively.

Cardiff Blues 31-25 Benetton Rugby

Cardiff Blues cut the gap on the third-placed Cheetahs in their Conference to five points after they beat Benetton 31-25 with a bonus point.

They led 17-13 at the break thanks to tries from Owen Lane and Olly Robinson, both results of expansive and entertaining passages of play.

However, the Italians were proving more than a match for their Welsh hosts as two early penalties from Marty Banks had taken them ahead.

After Robinson’s try Benetton did cross for a try of their own when Jarrod Evans’ kick was charged down and grounded by Giorgio Bronzini.

The second half upped in tempo as Tomos Williams’ smart chip kick allowed Ellis Jenkins to dive over, but Monty Ioane hit back for Benetton.

Nick Williams responded in kind from close range on 55 minutes to make it 31-20 and that was how it stayed until a minute before the end, when Tomas Baravalle crossed from the back of a driving maul to give Benetton at least a losing bonus-point for their efforts in a solid showing.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Lane, Robinson, E Jenkins, N Williams
Cons: Evans 4
Pen: Evans

For Benetton:
Tries: Bronzini, Ioane, Baravalle
Cons: Banks, McKinley
Pens: Banks 2

 

Edinburgh 12-6 Munster

Edinburgh picked up their 12th victory of the PRO14 campaign on Friday as they beat Munster 12-6 at Murrayfield in a low-scoring fixture.

A try in each half from wing Duhan van der Merwe proved the difference as the Scottish side closed the gap on the Scarlets to six points.

Edinburgh led 5-3 at the break thanks to Van der Merwe’s 36th minute try. Dougie Fife sparked the attack with a superb break from his own 22 before setting up the big wing to open his team’s account. This came after Munster had taken a 3-0 lead thanks to a JJ Hanrahan penalty.

Hanrahan was on target 10 minutes into the second-half to make it 6-5 to Munster but seven minutes later Van der Merwe was over for his brace, this time thanks to a miss pass from fly-half Jaco van der Walt, who slotted the conversion to make it 12-6 which was how it finished.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Van der Merwe 2
Con: Van der Walt
Yellow Card: Harries

For Munster:
Pens: Hanrahan 2

Kings get first PRO14 win

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It took them 17 outings but the Kings got their first win in the PRO14 on Friday when that thrash the Dragons in PE 45-13.

Lets say it upfront we know that the Dragons is not one of the top sides of the competition but it was an impressive win for the Kings as they played the way we expected them from the start.

The Dragons went with a 10-0 lead showing the problems of the Kings and that they did not have allot of confidence after so many losses.

The Kings hit back with Luzuko Vulindlu that set them on their way by taking a neat line off the shoulder of scrum-half Rowan Gouws. Jones did kick a penalty to regain control of proceedings for the visitors, but tries either side of half-time took the hosts away from the Welsh region.

Firstly, Masixole Banda’s superb individual score gave them a 14-13 lead at the interval before a scything Kurt Coleman break sent Vulindlu across the whitewash.

Ruaan Lerm’s effort effectively sealed the win and Coleman’s penalty – to go with six conversions – added to the Newport outfit’s pain.

Bernard Jackman’s men had no answer to the Kings’ pace out wide and Anthonie Volmink made it 38-13 with 14 minutes remaining.

By this point, the Dragons’ spirit had gone and Bobby de Wee completed a fine victory for the South Africans.

The scorers:

For Southern Kings:
Tries: Vulindlu 2, Banda, Lerm, Volmink, De Wee
Cons: Coleman 6
Pen: Coleman

For Dragons:
Try: Jones
Con: Jones
Pens: Jones 2

Preview – Kings v Dragons

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It has been a horror time for the Kings since they join the PRO14 last year and this weekend they face the Dragons at the Nelson Madela Stadium.

They will be happy to back at home after another horror tour in Europe this last couple of weeks.

Head coach Deon Davids decided to keep faith with the bulk of the players who started against Leinster last weekend.

There is a single change in the backline where Masixole Banda returns in place of Yaw Penxe whilst the forward pack sees Andisa Ntsila returned to his favoured position at number six from the number eight spot he occupied against Leinster.

Ruaan Lerm returns to the run-on XV in the number eight position vacated by Ntsila.

On the bench Davids made a few more changes with Coleman, Van Schalkwyk back in the matchday squad with Masimla also joining the bench.

“Every team in an international competition like this presents a tough challenge and the Dragons are no different but I expect a strong reaction from my team to last week’s blowout against Leinster,” said Davids.

“Everyone is determined to make up for what was a bad day at the office. We’ve played really well at times this season and it’s now time we put in an 80-minute performance at that level. If we execute properly and cut down on some basic errors then we’ll be in with a shout. Errors at this level are severely punished.”

The Dragons made six changes to their team as head coach Bernard Jackman has moved versatile back Zane Kirchner to the full-back position from centre as he joins Ashton Hewitt, who has recovered from a foot injury, and Jared Rosser in the back three.

The centre partnership sees ex-Southern Kings player Jarryd Sage link up with Jack Dixon, and as Dorian Jones retains his position at fly-half South African scrum-half Sarel Pretorius is named.

He also made two changes to the back-row as flankers Harri Keddie and Ollie Griffiths join skipper Lewis Evans.

“It will be a nice game for me and playing against an old team always gives you a bit of extra motivation to prove yourself.

“I didn’t play much at the Kings so want to go back there and almost show them what they lost. It’s a very exciting game for me and it will be good to play in front of my family.”

“It’s a different experience and environment for us but I don’t think that my advice will really be needed, we’ve just got to go out there and work on the performance from last week.

“The Kings are going to target this game because they haven’t won yet. It will be a tough fight but we’ve just got to do what is needed for the win.”

There are four changes to the bench as Max Williams, James Benjamin, Dan Babos and Rio Dyer join Ellis Shipp, Gerard Ellis, Lloyd Fairbrother and Connor Edwards.

The teams:

Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Michael Makase, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Anthonie Volmink, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby De Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Andries van Schalkwyk, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Kurt Coleman, 23 Jacques Nel

Dragons: 15 Zane Kirchner, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Jarryd Sage, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Dorian Jones, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lewis Evans (c), 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 Harri Keddie, 5 Rynard Landman, 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Liam Belcher, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Ellis Shipp, 17 Gerard Ellis, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Max Williams, 20 James Benjamin, 21 Dan Babos, 22 Connor Edwards, 23 Rio Dyer

Huge blow for Munster as Cloete injure his arm

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South African Chris Cloete could be out for three to four months which will be a huge lost for his club Munster.

Cloete suffered a fracture in his forearm in Munster victory over Glasgow this past weekend.

With the European Champions Cup quarter final against Toulon coming up Johann van Graan will surely miss the South African flanker.

His absence is tempered slightly, however, by the return of Tommy O’Donnell from a shoulder injury, who will be available for Friday night’s PRO14 clash with Edinburgh.

 

Leinster demolish Kings

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It was yet an embarrassing defeat for the Kings this time at the hands of Leinster when they run in 11 tries against the 1 from the Kings on Friday. 

Having disappointed away from South Africa, Kings were up against it on this visit to the RDS. And it was a very long night for the long distance visitors.

Three minutes was all it took for the first try to come, Bryan Byrne getting the ball rolling. And there was to be no respite throughout the evening, with the second quickly following from Nick McCarthy. Kings had their only bit of action to cheer on 15 minutes, with a drive that saw Mike Willemse through. But only a minute or two later, Barry Daly got the third.

The bonus point was a guarantee and just 22 minutes had been played when Dave Kearney secured it, Kings already well and truly out of this one. Byrne got his second later in the half, but the standout moment came when debutant Ciaran Frawley marked his debut with the sixth try of the half, with Leinster taking a brutish 40-7 lead into the second half.

It’s difficult to know whether they slowed down after the break, though they did add 24 more points. It still took just seven minutes of the half for McCarthy to get his second try, with the beleaguered Kings reduced to 14 when Pieter Scholtz saw yellow.

James Lowe was next on the scoresheet with half an hour to play, with Daly following with his second. And the night was rounded off when Jordan Larmour brought up the double figures of tries, with Leinster rounding off a dominant night with a 64-10 win.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Byrne 2, McCarthy 2, Daly 2, D Kearney, Frawley, Lowe, Larmour
Conversions: Frawley 7

For Kings:
Try: Willemse
Conversion: Du Toit
Yellow Card: Scholtz

Ospreys keep Kings winless in PRO14

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In a battle between two sides woefully out of form, Ospreys were able to recall the likes of Justin Tipuric. But with a further 20 players out, it wasn’t easy pickings for Allen Clarke, as he looked for a win to keep in hope of a Champions Cup spot.

The hosts started the better though and grabbed the opening try on 13 minutes. Kings struggled to hold back their opposition and had to resort to a number of fouls in the build up, before Tom Habberfield burst through to break the deadlock. Sam Davies added the conversion, but that was as good as it got for Clarke and co in the first half.

Kings, who had flattered to deceive for much of the half, sprung into life when Andisa Ntsila offloaded to Luzuko Vulindlu, who in turn fed Michael Makase inside the corner. The conversion by Martin du Toit levelled it up. And the visitors took the lead on the half-hour mark, as Michael Willemse made the most of a line-out to barrage his way over. The 12-7 half-time deficit was desperately disappointing for the Welsh side.

The hosts performance didn’t improve early after the break, and they were left disappointed after the referee deemed Nicky Smith to have landed on his back without grounding when crossing the line. They were given a lifeline though when Kings saw a yellow card flashed at Johan Smith for an infringement at the scrum. And they took full advantage of the extra man straight away. Unable to hold back the scrum, penalty try quickly arrived to put Ospreys 14-12 ahead.

Kings night was unravelling and they fell to 13 men when Eital Bredenkamp was penalised for an offence in the ruck. A second penalty try sealed the win with three minutes remaining as Ospreys made the extra men count in the final 15 minutes. And the bonus point arrived at the death, with Jeff Hassler making the most of the beleaguered Kings backline.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: 
Habberfield, Penalty Try 2, Hassler
Con: Davies

For Southern Kings:
Tries: 
Makase, Willemse
Con: Du Toit
Yellow Card: Smith, Bredenkamp

Thanks to

Cheetahs falls short against Warriors

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Cheetahs never looked like taking anything from Scotstoun against a Glasgow side so strong on home soil, with the visitors tending to struggle when out of their continent.

But within 10 minutes they had the first try on the board after stealing possession five metres from their line. Four orange shirts piled forward and Malcolm Jaer sprinted through for the early advantage.

Niko Matawalu hit back with a sprint of his own though. He was found by Adam Hastings and threw the defender a dummy to break through.

Glasgow took the lead for the first time soon after, Ruaridh Jackson with a wonderful solo effort as he chipped ahead and beat the backline to go through. A penalty from each 10 saw Warriors take a 15-10 lead into the second half.

Niel Marias added another three points early in the second half to cut the Glasgow lead down to a couple of points, but they soon had try number three to restore breathing space.

Siua Halanukonuka got his first in Warriors colours when he drove through from just a metre. Another penalty for Cheetahs kept them alive though, 20-16 the lead with a hefty chunk of the second-half left.

But with George Horne on the field there was always another try to come, and he sealed the bonus point. Sam Johnson hurdled a challenge and fed Horne who was waiting on his shoulder, with Hastings making it 27-16.

It was a thrilling night at Scotstoun and Cheetahs refused to give this one up. Almost immediately they replied with a try when Clayton Blommetijes finished off a well-worked move following a line-out.

But the tries continued to rain down and Henry Pyrgos added to the tally. Warriors broke and a couple of dummies from Pyrgos saw him deceive and go through for 37-23 at the end.

The scorers:

For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: 
Matawalu, Jackson, Halanukonuka, Horne, Pyrgos
Cons: Hastings 3
Pens: Hastings 2

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Jaer, Blommetjies
Cons: Marais 2
Pens: Marais 3

Thanks to

PRO14 Preview – Glasgow v Cheetahs

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Glasgow Warriors welcome back second-rows Scott Cummings and Tim Swinson and centre Sam Johnson for the visit of the Cheetahs on Friday.

Scotland international Swinson has been out of action with a hand injury since November, Johnson suffered a broken jaw in the game against Montpellier in December and Cummings has been out since the beginning of the year.

All three come straight into the starting XV, Swinson and Cummings starting behind a front-row of Alex Allan, James Malcolm and Siua Halanukonuka.

Behind them Rob Harley captain’s the side and equals Graeme Morrison’s record for all time Glasgow Warriors appearances, playing his 177th game for the club.

Chris Fusaro and Matt Fagerson are the other loose forwards.

It is an unchanged half-back pairing from last weekend’s draw against the Dragons and Nick Grigg joins Johnson in the midfield.

Niko Matawalu starts on the wing, joining Lee Jones and Ruaridh Jackson in the back three.

This is the Cheetahs’ first and only visit to Scotland this season. The two sides met in Bloemfontein in Round 6 with Glasgow handing the South Africans their only home defeat of the campaign so far.

“Glasgow is obviously a quality team who have proven that they are tough to beat on their home turf. This week we have made some exciting changes to the line-up that we believe suit our style of play intended for this weekend.” said coach Rory Duncan.

The teams:

Glasgow Warriors:  15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Chris Fusaro, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Scott Cummings, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Siua Halanukonuka, 2 James Malcolm, 1 Alex Allan
Replacements: 16 Grant Stewart, 17 Oli Kebble, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Matt Smith, 20 Adam Ashe, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Brandon Thomson, 23 Ratu Tagive

Cheetahs:  15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Craig Barry, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Malcolm Jaer, 10 Niel Marais, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Henco Venter, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Luan de Bruin, 2 Torsten Van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques Du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Carl Wegner, 20 Paul Schoeman, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Fred Zeilinga, 23 Luther Obi

Date: Friday, February 16
Venue: Scotstoun
Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Thanks to 

PRO14 Preview – Ospreys v Kings

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Ospreys interim head coach Allen Clarke has included Wales internationals Justin Tipuric and Owen Watkin in his side to face the Kings.

He is however without Dan Biggar, Alun-Wyn Jones and Bradley Davies while 20 others are currently injured and unavailable for selection.

Dewi Cross makes his PRO14 debut while Watkin starts with Kieron Fonotia in midfield and Tom Habberfield and Sam Davies are at half-back.

“There were positive signs in Connacht last Friday. We played the game with the right intent but failed to make the most the of the possession and territory that we had, hence the disappointing outcome on the night,” said Clarke.

“We want to approach Friday night and Southern Kings with a similar outlook, but knowing that we must finish off the opportunities we create. There’s been plenty of positivity around the place this week but with the realism of where we are at the moment and what we need to do if we want to qualify for the Champions Cup next season, starting this Friday night at the Liberty Stadium.

“These next three weekends are crucial for us, with back to back home games before we go to Zebre at the start of next month. Our focus is fully on delivering the best performances and outcomes that we can, before we regroup and take stock of our position for the final push.”

Meanwhile, the Southern Kings have opted for just a single change from the XV who took to the field against Ulster last weekend.

Left wing Anthony Volmink is replaced by Michael Makase with the remaining members of the team all offered another chance to show what they are capable of after a disappointing last outing.

Concerns about the fitness of fly-half Martin du Toit (lower back) and scrum-half Rowan Gouws (ankle) have proven to be unfounded and the Kings will be buoyed by this news, as well the fact that head coach Deon Davids arrived to join their touring group this week.

Davids missed the match against Ulster due to illness and Barend Pieterse acted as interim coach in his absence.

In a show of faith in their bench as well, the Kings have made just a single change among their replacements with Luvuyo Pupuma coming in for the injured Daylan Van Der Westhuizen.

The team will once again be captained by hooker Michael Willemse who features in third place overall on the official Guinness Opta Stats ranking for most turnovers won throughout the season.

The teams:

Ospreys:  15 Dan Evans, 14 Jeff Hassler, 13 Kieron Fonotia, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Dewi Cross, 10 Sam Davies, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 Rob McCusker (c), 7 Justin Tipuric, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 James King, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Ma’afu Fia, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Rhodri Jones
Replacements: 16 Scott Otten, 17 Nicky Smith, 18 Dmitri Arhip, 19 Guy Mercer, 20 Will Jones, 21 Reuben Morgan-Williams, 22 Luke Price, 23 Hanno Dirksen

Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Michael Makase, 10 Martin du Toit, 9 Rowan Gouws, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Pieter Scholtz, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Johan Smith, 18 Luvuyo Pupuma, 19 Jurie van Vuuren, 20 Eital Bredenkamp, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Barend Janse van Rensburg, 23 Harlon Klaasen

Date: Friday, February 16
Venue: Liberty Stadium
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffkin (Ireland), Richard Kerr (Ireland)
TMO: Simon McDowell (Ireland)

Thanks to 

PRO14 – Cheetahs and Kings falls short

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The PRO14 is still going strong and the weekend was not a great one for the two South African sides in the competition.

The Kings got another hiding this time by Ulster and the Cheetahs could not blow the final punch against the Blues losing 25-20 on Saturday night.

Ulster have thrashed the hapless Southern Kings in their PRO14 encounter at the Kingspan Stadium in Belfast on Friday evening.

The home side won 59-10 after leading 21-3 at half-time.

Ulster scored a whopping nine tries through a hat-trick by Craig Gilroy, a brace by Robert Lyttle with Stuart McCloskey, Johnny McPhillips, Kieran Treadwell and Darren Cave also crossing the try line.

Scrumhalf John Cooney kicked seven conversions to see his side to a comprehensive victory.

The Kings lone try came through Harlon Klaasen with Benhard Janse van Rensburg landing the conversion and Masixole Banda kicking a penalty in the first-half.

The South African franchise has struggled in their debut PRO14 season, having lost all 14 matches to date and sit at the bottom of Conference B.

Scorers:

Ulster

Tries: Craig Gilroy (3), Stuart McCloskey, Johnny McPhillips, Robert Lyttle (2), Kieran Treadwell, Darren Cave

Conversions: John Cooney (7)

Kings

Try: Harlon Klaasen

Conversion: Benhard Janse van Rensburg

The Cheetahs suffered a blow as they went down to the Cardiff Blues 25-20 in a tough encounter at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday night.

Rory Duncan’s side desperately wanted the victory to strengthen their chances for the quarter-finals of the PRO14, and to shake off the tag of not being able to win in Europe.

The win was massive for the Blues as it managed to bring them a bit closer on the log to the Cheetahs who will still remain third in their respective PRO14 log despite the loss.

But while the Cheetahs didn’t stave off their mantra of a side that needs to prove they can win overseas, they did win a lot of fans with their approach to the game in poor rainy conditions in the Welsh capital.

The Cheetahs opened the scoring through a powerful drive that will have underlined the quality of Ox Nche, whose leg drive powered him over the line for the opening score.

It was a try that underlined their scoring prowess, and it wasn’t long before Fred Zeilinga had added a penalty to the cause.

At 10-0 up it looked as if things were going well, but the Blues struck back through a Ray Lee-lo try.

Reynier Bernardo was yellow carded for a professional foul in the red zone shortly afterwards, which allowed the Welsh team to take control of the game.

Ellis Jenkins rumbled over the line from the lineout drive called from the penalty for the yellow, sending the Blues into a lead they wouldn’t give up for the rest of the game.

Jarrod Evans added a penalty to put the scoreline up to a try difference, with the teams going into the break with the home side leading 15-10.

The Cheetahs brought that back by three when Zeilinga added another three points to the scoreline.

But the Blues extended their lead again with a try to Nick Williams on the hour mark, powering his way over from a scrum, with the try needing to be reviewed by the television match official, who eventually confirmed the try.

Uzair Cassiem produced a great leg drive to bring his side within range, with Zeilinga adding the extras.

But while the Cheetahs tried their best to attack, the Blues held firm, with Evans adding another penalty to put his side further ahead.

Try as the might, the Cheetahs couldn’t close the gap as the Blues’ defence held firm to stop attack after attack.

Scorers

Cardiff Blues

Tries: Rey Lee-lo, Ellis Jenkins, Nick Williams

Conversions: Jarros Evans (2)

Penalties: Evans (2)

Toyota Cheetahs

Tries: Ox Nche,Uzair Cassiem

Conversions: Fred Zeilinga (2)

Penalties: Zeilinga (2)

Here is the Results:

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 9

Ulster 59-10 Kings

Edinburgh 29-24 Leinster

Dragons 15-15 Glasgow Warriors

Connacht 26-15 Ospreys

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 10

Cardiff Blues 25-20 Cheetahs

Munster 33-5 Zebre

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 11

Benetton Treviso 22-12 Llanelli Scarlets

Kings tour without coach Davids

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Kings coach Deon Davids have named his strongest possible squad to tour in Ireland and Wales for the next three weeks when the PRO14 resumes.

The Kings are without a win still in the competition and will want to start getting on the right track not just for their first win but also to be more competitive.

They will have to do this all without their coach Davids as he will not tour with them due to medical reasons.

In a statement on Monday, the Kings said that in Davids’ absence, Barend Pieterse will take over the coaching reins.

The winless Kings are set to face Ulster this Friday, followed by clashes against the Ospreys and Leinster overseas.

Davids may join up with the squad at a later date.

Notable absentees from the travelling squad include flyhalf Oliver Zono and fullback Ntabeni Dukisa, who are both likely to be out for an extended period of time due to injury.

In better news, front rower Luvuyo Pupuma and wing Michael Makase make a welcome return to the squad.

Kings squad – Schalk Ferreira, Michael Willemse (Captain), Pieter Scholtz, Stephan Greeff, Bobby de We, Andisa Ntsila, Tienie Burger, Ruaan Lerm, Rowan Gouws, Martin du Toit, Anthony Volmink, Luzuko Vulindlu, Berton Klaasen, Michael Makase, Yaw Penxe, Johan Smith, Stephan Coetzee, Tango Balekile, Luvuyo Pupuma, Dayan van der Westhuizen, Jurie van Vuuren, Lindokuhle Welemu, Eital Bredenkamp, Godlen Masimla, JP Smith, Benhard Janse van Rensburg, Harlon Klaasen, Masixole Banda.

Cheetahs outclass Kings

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The Cheetahs claimed their second win over the Kings in as many weeks with a 45-24 victory at Free State Stadium on Saturday.

Tries from Uzair Cassiem, Ox Nche, Makazole Mapimpi, Shaun Venter and a Nico Lee brace proved too much for the Kings who scored through Luzuko Vulindlu, Schalk Ferreira and Marthinus Burger.

With two minutes gone, the Kings conceded a penalty for an infringement at scrum time just outside their own 22 and Fred Zeilinga made no mistake with the kick as the hosts opted for poles early on.

The visitors hit back as Vulindlu scored the game’s first try but it was all thanks to number eight Andila Ntsila who made the break off the back of the scrum before finding the centre with a brilliant offload as he was falling to ground. Ntabeni Dukisa’s conversion gave the visitors a 7-3 lead.

Hat-trick hero from last week Lee then made it four in one and a quarter games against the Kings when he reached over to put the Cheetahs back in front with twenty minutes gone.

Five minutes later, the hosts extended their lead as they began to assert their dominance on the opposition. From a five-metre attacking lineout, the maul was halted and the ball recycled out to the left. Cassiem’s pick and go from close range was a successful one and Zeilinga’s conversion made the score 17-7.

The Kings responded to cut the deficit to three at 14-17 with a well-worked try for their second. Martin Du Toit ran a great angle and saw a mismatch among the Cheetahs forwards before he ran into the Cheetahs 22 and got the offload away in the tackle to Ferreira. The loosehead prop bumped off a tackler and dotted down for the try.

But Lee hit back with his second of the game once again from close range off the back of an attacking scrum move as the Kings were immediately pegged back.

A Dukisa penalty for an infringement at the breakdown brought it back to a seven-point game as the sides went into the interval with the visitors needing just a converted try to restore parity.

The Free State faithful were brought to their feet when Clayton Blommetjies showed wonderful vision with his kick ahead for loosehead Nche of all players who showed tremendous pace to collect and run through under the posts.

Soon after, Craig Barry was shown a yellow card as the Cheetahs went down to 14 men for ten minutes for tackling Kings wing Yaw Penxe in the air.

The lead was stretched further to 38-17 as another Blommetjies kick through was pounced upon by Mapimpi this time who showed the composure and pace to direct it further ahead with his boot over the try-line and then dive on the ball. Zeilinga added the extras once again.

Soon after, scrum-half Venter put five more past the Kings as he showed scintillating with his sniping run to dot down. Zeilinga made it a perfect six from six with the conversion.

The Kings scored a consolation try after Michael Makase was halted five metres. The ball was recycled to Burger who was not going to be stopped from that range.

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Lee 2, Cassiem, Nche, Mapimpi, Venter
Cons: Zeilinga 6
Pen: Zeilinga

For Kings:
Tries: Vulindlu, Ferreira, Burger
Cons: Dukisa 2, Janse van Rensburg
Pen: Dukisa

Ox Nche was at the end of s great try the Cheetahs scored

Munster – Getting to know JP Ferreira..

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New Defence Coach JP Ferreira has had a hectic month since joining Munster in December from Super Rugby side the Lions.

He arrived at the province just before Christmas ahead of three Interpro derbies and is set to experience the Champions Cup atmosphere at Thomond Park for the first time on Sunday.

JP spent a decade working with the South African club across a number of coaching and analyst roles before joining the Munster coaching team of Head Coach Johann van Graan, Forwards Coach Jerry Flannery, and Backline and Attack Coach Felix Jones.

thanks to

Munster fitness chief to join Springboks?

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Munster have confirmed that Head of Athletic Performance Aled Walters will depart the province in March, with reports linking him to the Boks.

Though Munster do not mention South Africa, they do reveal that Walters is to lead “a national team’s strength and conditioning programme”.

With the squad informed of the departure in December, Team Manager Niall O’Donovan said: “Aled has been an integral member of this backroom team for the past number of seasons, and oversees a great S&C department here within the High Performance Centre where our programmes and processes are well established. We thank Aled for his contribution on and off the field, wishing him all the best with the next chapter.”

Several reports in South Africa suggest that Walters is set to link up with former Munster and now Springbok rugby boss Rassie Erasmus.

PRO14 Saturday Wrap – Yellow card cost Cheetahs

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Benetton came from behind to defeat the Cheetahs while there were also victories for Ospreys, Glasgow, Leinster and Munster on Saturday.

Benetton 27-21 Cheetahs

Benetton recorded their third successive win with a 27-21 victory over the Cheetahs at Stadio di Monigo on Saturday.

Fred Zeilinga notched three first-half penalties but Benetton hit back just before the break with a fantastic team try, the move rounded off by Monty Ioane as the away side took a 9-5 lead in to the interval.

The Cheetahs added their second try shortly after the break just after a Marty Banks penalty when Oupa Mohoje bashed over after good work by the Cheetahs backline.

The Cheetahs were reduced to 14 men when Torsten van Jaarsveld was penalised for not supporting his body weight and cynically slowing down Benetton ball deep in Cheetahs’ territory.

The visitors were subsequently reduced to thirteen men when scrum-half Shaun Venter was guilty of a deliberate knockdown at a defensive scrum.

Benetton duly capitalised on their numerical advantage when the ball was swept out all the way from the right wing to the left wing with full-back Jayden Hayward providing the killer pass for replacement hooker Hame Faiva to finish clinically in the corner to cut the deficit to three.

Soon after, the home side took the lead when Federico Ruzza got over and Banks added the extras to make it 20-16 to Benetton.

Faiva then grabbed his brace as the hosts extended their lead. Banks converted brilliantly from deep out on the left touchline to extend the lead to 27-16 with 10 minutes to go.

With two minutes to go, Mohoje grabbed his brace showing his finishing qualities with a good stretch and grounding.

However, it was not enough as Benetton grabbed their third win on the bounce; something that has not happened in the PRO14 for the Italians since 2012.

For Benetton:
Tries: Ioane, Faiva 2, Ruzza
Con: Banks
Pen: Banks

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Mohoje 2
Con: Zeilinga
Pens: Zeilinga 3

Referee: Frank Murphy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Gianluca Gnecchi (Italy)
TMO: Leo Colgan (Ireland)

Ospreys 29-28 Cardiff Blues

Ospreys held on for a dramatic 29-28 win over Cardiff Blues at Liberty Stadium on Saturday.

The Blues took the lead thanks to great work from Josh Navidi at the breakdown to win the penalty for his side which Gareth Anscombe slotted betweem the posts.

Good interplay between Willis Halaholo and Rey Lee-Lo earned the Blues a penalty and they opted for touch. Navidi took the ball down from the blindside and made decent metres. The ball was recycled to Nick Williams who was always going to be impossible to stop from that sort of range making it 8-0 to the visitors.

Soon after, the Ospreys were right back in it courtesy of a Jeff Hassler intercept try in which the winger showed his poaching abilities and searing pace. Dan Biggar converted to cut the deficit to one at 8-7 but Anscombe’s penalty made it 11-7 to the Blues.

Then out of nothing Biggar showed his vision as he collected his own deftly-weighted chip and chase and set half-back partner Rhys Webb over for a scintillating Ospreys try. Biggar added the extras as the scoreline read 14-11.

Anscombe pegged the hosts back with a penalty after the Ospreys were penalised for going off their feet at the breadown for the second time in the match.

But Biggar responded with a penalty to restore the hosts’ 17-14 lead by half-time.

10 minutes after half-time, Biggar’s sublime cross-field kick was well collected by Ashley Beck who fed instantaneously on his inside to Justin Tipuric whose offload was collected by Webb stepped his way past a couple of defenders in a consumnate finish. Biggar added the extras and make it 24-14 to Ospreys.

Biggar caught the Blues sleeping at a set-piece when he produced another gorgeous cross-field kick for Justin Tipuric to dot down.

Despite being a man down due to Alex Cuthbert’s yellow card for a cynical infringement, the Blues and Owen Lane in particular showed wonderful fighting spirit as he muscled two defenders on his way over the line.

The Blues’ next try was even better, with Steve Shingler collecting his own chip and chase in much the same way Biggar did igniting the move. Tomos Williams and Anscombe were also involved in a lengthy build up before Garyn Smith scythed his way through the Ospreys defence. Anscombe’s conversion brought the deficit to within just one.

But Ospreys held on for a hard-fought 29-28 victory.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: Hassler, Webb 2, Tipuric
Cons: Biggar 3
Pen: Biggar

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Williams, Lane, Smith
Cons: Anscombe 2
Pens: Anscombe 3
Yellow Card: Cuthbert

 

Referee: Nigel Owens (Wales)
Assistant referees: Dan Jones (Wales), Adam Jones (Wales)
TMO: Jon Mason (Wales)

Zebre 20-40 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow Warriors recorded a comfortable 40-20 victory over Zebre at Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi on Saturday.

Tries from Matt Fagerson, George Horne, Nick Grigg, a Lee Jones brace and a penalty try proved too much for Zebre who scored through Renato Giammarioli, Maxime Mbanda and Tommaso D’Apice.

Fagerson opened the scoring for Glasgow from a driving maul with seven minutes gone but Giammarioli hit back three minutes later for the hosts.

Jones then glided over for Glasgow as first receiver from a five metre attacking scrum. The visitors began to turn the screw and were rewarded with a penalty try for their dominance.

Glasgow had four before the break when Horne tiptoed around a defender after Adam Ashe had barged through a tackle and got the hands free for the offload.

Zebre had a response immediately after the interval with a try from Mbanda. Any hopes of a Zebre comeback, however, appeared to be extinguished when Jones grabbed his brace ten minutes later.

Soon after, Grigg scored what would be the final try of the game.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Tries: Giammarioli, Mbanda, D’Apice
Con: Canna
Pen: Violi

For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Fagerson, Jones 2, Horne, Grigg, Penalty Try
Cons: Russell 4

 

Referee: Andrew Brace (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (Ireland), Manuel Bottino (Italy)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Leinster 38-7 Ulster

Leinster continue to march on as they smashed Ulster 38-7 at RDS on Saturday.

It took the hosts seven minutes to break the deadlock. Fergus McFadden did well to make the initial break from the line-out and had the vision to feed full-back Jordan Larmour to finish off.

More good backline play from Leinster with Larmour heavily involved once again saw Barry Daly dart over 10 minutes later.

McFadden turned from provider to try-scorer when Scott Fardy’s excellent pass found him in open space on the left wing to dot down.

Leinster’s next try came from Ulster losing possession and the ball going through the backline in another impressive move that saw McFadden pop up to grab his brace and make it 26-0.

Larmour scored his second after excellent hands between Johnny Sexton and Robbie Henshaw set him free down the left to make it 31-0.

With eight minutes to go, Ulster scored a consolation try. Tommy Bowe was halted inches short after making a fantastic break. The ball went quickly through the hands for Jacob Stockdale to dot down.

Not for the first time, Leinster scored from turnover ball and it was Sexton at the end of another scintillating move.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Larmour 2, Daly, McFadden 2, Sexton
Cons: Byrne 3, Sexton

For Ulster:
Try: Stockdale
Con: Cooney

 

Referee: George Clancy (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Joy Neville (Ireland), Shane Kierans (Ireland)
TMO: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)

Munster 39-13 Connacht

Munster recorded a comprehensive 39-13 victory over Connacht at Thomond Park.

Tries from Darren O’Shea, Andrew Conway, Keith Earls and Conor Murray (2) proved too much for Connacht who scored through two Jack Carty penalties and a converted Tom McCartney try.

Carty kicked a penalty to give Connacht an early lead with three minutes gone on the clock.

After 20 minutes, Munster got the game’s first try. Chris Farrell made good ground with a powerful carry up the middle and from the recycled ball O’Shea bashed over from close range. Ian Keatley slotted the resulting conversion to make it 7-3 to the hosts.

Soon after, Carty kicked a fantastic long-distance penalty to reduce the deficit to one. But Keatley responded with a penalty to restore the lead to four points at 10-6 at the half an hour mark.

Keatley maintained his one hundred percent kicking record with his third penalty after Connacht were penalised at the breakdown.

Not long after, Conway chased Keatley’s grubber kick through to dot down. Keatley made no mistake with the conversion as the hosts took what looked like could be an unassailable 20-6 lead even though only 54 minutes had passed.

Keatley and Conway combined next to set Earls clear on a free run to the line with an easy finish capping off a promising team move.

The game turned spiky with a number of off-the-ball scuffles and one big brawl which saw Quinn Roux deservedly sin-binned for fighting.

Munster capitalised on their numerical advantage when Murray sneaked over after a series of powerful carries from the hosts’ forwards. Keatley added the extras to make it 32-6 in favour of Munster with 64 minutes gone before Murray crossed again on 70 minutes.

Connacht scored a consolation try in the closing stages through McCartney.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: O’Shea, Conway, Earls, Murray 2
Cons: Keatley 4
Pens: Keatley 2

For Connacht:
Try: McCartney
Con: Ronaldson
Pens: Carty 2
Yellow Card: Roux

Thanks to 

Preview – Strong Cheetahs team to take on Benetton

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After a second successive win in the Italian derby against Zebre, Benetton will return to Stadio di Monigo to face the Cheetahs.

Coach Kieran Crowley makes only two changes to his starting XV that defeated Zebre.

Full-back will be Jayden Hayward, on the wings Luca Sperandio and Monty Ioane, Tommaso Benvenuti and Alberto Sgarbi will be in the centres and the half-backs are Tito Tebaldi at scrum-half and Marty Banks at fly-half.

The front-row will consist of Nicola Quaglio, Luca Bigi and Tiziano Pasquali, locks will be Irné Herbst and captain Dean Budd, who makes his 100th appearance for Benetton, and finally the back-row sees Whetu Douglas, Abraham Steyn and Marco Barbini complete the XV.

Meanwhile, Francois Venter is back at centre for the Cheetahs and will be taking over the reins after his impressive performance for the Springboks on the end-of-year tour.

Craig Barry moves to full-back, replacing Clayton Blommetjies who has been sidelined due to a cold. William Small-Smith will be starting on right wing.

Springboks Oupa Mohoje (flanker) and Uzair Cassiem (number eight) are both in the starting line-up. Cassiem will be making his PRO14 debut. Rynier Bernardo and Junior Pokomela will be providing cover on the bench.

Tian Meyer is suffering from a groin injury giving Zee Mkhabela the opportunity on the bench. Niel Marais and AJ Coertzen will both be making their PRO14 debuts when they set foot to field.

The teams:

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Luca Sperandio, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Monty Ioane, 10 Marty Banks, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Marco Barbini, 7 Abraham Steyn, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Dean Budd (c), 4 Irné Herbst, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Luca Bigi, 1 Nicola Quaglio
Replacements: 16 Hame Faiva, 17 Federico Zani, 18 Cherif Traore, 19 Federico Ruzza, 20 Marco Fuser, 21 Sebastian Negri, 22 Edoardo Gori, 23 Ian McKinley

Cheetahs: 15 Craig Barry, 14 William Small-Smith, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 Nico Lee, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Fred Zeilinga, 9 Shaun Venter, 8 Uzair Cassiem, 7 Oupa Mohoje, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Carl Wegner, 3 Johan Coetzee, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Tom Botha, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Zee Mkhabela, 22 Niel Marais, 23 AJ Coertzen

Another use lost for Kings

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Edinburgh maintained the pressure on third place Ulster in Conference B following a comfortable 37-7 triumph over the winless Southern Kings.

Conditions meant that free-flowing rugby was at a premium and the supporters had to wait until the second quarter for the first score.

That came through the home side’s fly-half Jaco van der Walt before the floodgates opened and Grant Gilchrist touched down after displaying some impressive footballing skills.

Blair Kinghorn then crossed the whitewash as Richard Cockerill’s men moved into a 15-0 lead at the interval.

The Kings, alongside fellow South African side the Cheetahs, had a break over Christmas and New Year, but it did not seem to do them any good as the hosts continued to dominate.

Van der Walt kicked a second three-pointer and Duhan van der Merwe then went over to effectively complete the win.

Edinburgh then went in search of the bonus-point and they duly got their reward through Cameron Fenton and Dougie Fife.

Ntabeni Dukisa’s effort was sandwiched in between the Scottish outfit’s last two tries but it was another disappointing evening for the Kings.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Gilchrist, Kinghorn, Van der Merwe, Fenton, Fife
Cons: Van der Walt 3
Pens: Van der Walt 2

For Kings:
Try: Dukisa
Con: Dukisa

Preview – Edinburgh v Kings

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Scotland international centre Mark Bennett will make his eagerly anticipated debut against the Southern Kings at Myreside on Friday night.

Head coach Richard Cockerill has made five changes to the side that faced Glasgow Warriors in last weekend’s 1872 Cup fixture at Scotstoun.

Dougie Fife is the only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three. The winger – who touched down against Southern Kings in last month’s fixture in Port Elizabeth – joins Duhan van der Merwe on the wing, whilst Blair Kinghorn keeps his place at full-back.

In the midfield, 20-times capped Scotland international centre Bennett makes his first appearance for the club since joining in the summer, having fully recovered from a knee injury suffered in last year’s Six Nations. The 24-year-old is joined in midfield by the experienced Phil Burleigh.

In the front-row, prop Jordan Lay gets the nod at loosehead and packs down alongside Murray McCallum and hooker Stuart McInally, who once again captains the side.

The dynamic pairing of Ben Toolis and Grant Gilchrist form the second-row, whilst Magnus Bradbury returns to the starting XV to link up with Hamish Watson and Cornell du Preez in the back-row.

On his selection, Cockerill said: “Mark has worked incredibly hard to return from injury, so we’re delighted that he’s able to make his first start for the club in front of our supporters at Myreside.

“Southern Kings are a dangerous side in attack, and they will be well-rested having had a few week’s break over the festive period. It’ll be a tough game, but we’re looking forward to getting back to Myreside and putting in a good performance, and one that keeps us looking up the table.”

Meanwhile, the Kings return from their winter break with a number of familiar faces included in the starting XV.

The team will be captained by Schalk Ferreira and will be chasing their first ever win in the PRO14. Yaw Penxe, Kurt Coleman, Berton Klaasen and Dries van Schalkwyk are some of the team’s key performers who will line out in the Scottish capital.

Top tackler Andisa Ntsila (132) did not travel with the squad on their last trip to Europe before heading back to South Africa for back to back derby games with the Cheetahs.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 Mark Bennett, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Duhan van der Merwe, 10 Jaco van der Walt, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Magnus Bradbury, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 Murray McCallum, 2 Stuart McInally (c), 1 Jordan Lay
Replacements: 16 Cameron Fenton, 17 Elliot Millar-Mills, 18 Matt Shields, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 Viliame Mata, 21 Sean Kennedy, 22 Chris Dean, 23 Damien Hoyland

Southern Kings: 15 Ntabeni Dukisa, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Martin du Toit, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Kurt Coleman, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Martinus Burger, 6 Bredenkamp Eitel, 5 Dries van Schalkwyk, 4 Jurie van Vuuren, 3 Rossouw de Klerk, 2 Stephan Coetzee, 1 Schalk Ferreira (c)
Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Njabulo Gumede, 18 Pieter Scholtz, 19 Lindokuhle Welemu, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Gouws Rowan/Godlen Masimla, 22 Harlon Klaasen, 23 Masixole Banda

Date: Friday, January 5
Venue: Myreside
Referee: Lloyd Linton (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Mike Adamson (Scotland), Sam Grove-White (Scotland)
TMO: Neil Paterson (Scotland)

Kings ready for Edinburgh

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After a few weeks break from the rigours of competitive PRO14 action, a re-energised Southern Kings look ahead to their first match in 2018.

Head coach Deon Davids has named the strongest possible squad available to him for this week’s trip to Scotland where Edinburgh lie in wait as the opposition Friday evening.

In as much as the break period since their last fixture – against the same opponents – on December 1, 2017, has allowed the Kings to regroup and recover from a few bumps and niggles, their time on the training ground has unfortunately cost them the services of prop forward Luvuyo Papama and stand-out loose forward Andisa Ntsila.

“Luvuyo unfortunately tore a hamstring muscle during training and he is likely to be out for three to four weeks as a result while Andisa suffered a concussion and mandatory protocol requires that he sit out for a minimum of two weeks whilst we monitor his condition,” said team doctor Clement Plaatjies.

Other players unavailable for selection were squad captain Michael Willemse, flyhalf Oliver Zono and wing Michael Makase. All three are making their way back to full fitness after injury, however Dr Plaatjies said he expected them to be ready for action soon.

Commenting on the make-up of his squad Coach Davids stressed that the omission of Stefan Greeff and Bobby de Wee from the touring group was nothing more than a desire on his part to manage their workload and that they would return for the match against the Cheetahs later this month.

”Those two have been grafting extremely hard in our previous encounters and will return for the Cheetah game. We have in their place though, Jurie van Vuuren and Lindokuhle Welemu, two replacements who will be determined to prove themselves. There’s also an opportunity for Eital Bredenkamp and Freddie Ngoza, neither of whom have played in the first half of the season, to step up as loose forwards, in the place of the injured players,” he said

Davids also revealed that Mzamo Majola, on loan from the Sharks, had been required to return to his home franchise and had been replaced by Njabulo Gumede whilst recent loan signing from the Lions Anthony Volmink was not considered for the Edinburgh encounter due to family commitments.

“Overall this has been a difficult touring squad to put together and I’ve had much to consider. Firstly, we’ve had to take into account the players’ workload prior to this break and consider the impact that the tough travelling schedule we have coming up could have on their recovery. We have also been hit by some unforeseen injuries. In light of the said, we decided it would be a good opportunity to assess the depth and talent within the squad by giving other players an opportunity on this one week tour whilst at the same time not discarding too much continuity,” he said.

An added challenge for Davids and his Kings team will be the icy mid-winter conditions they are likely to experience in Edinburgh.

The match will take place at the Scottish team’s Myreside home on Friday, January 5 and kick-off is at 21:35 (SA time).

Southern Kings touring squad:

Forwards

Schalk Ferreira

Pieter Scholtz

Martin Dreyer

Njabulo Gumede

Rossouw de Klerk

Tango Balekile

Stephan Coetzee

Lindokuhle Welemu

Dries van Schalkwyk

Jurie van Vuuren

Martinus Burger

Eital Bredenkamp

Freddie Ngoza

Ruaan Lerm

Backs

Rudi van Rooyen

Godlen Masimla

Rowan Gouws

Kurt Coleman

Berton Klaasen

Harlon Klaasen

Martin du Toit

Alshaun Bock

Yaw Penxe

Masixole Banda

Ntabeni Dukisa

Wins for Benetton and Glasgow

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Benetton and Glasgow Warriors claimed wins over Zebre and Edinburgh respectively in the two PRO14 derbies played on Saturday.

Zebre 16-20 Benetton

Zebre may have had the overwhelming majority of the possession and territory in this encounter but they could not make it count.

Fly-halves Carlo Canna and Marty Banks traded a pair of penalties apiece as the sides went into the interval on equal terms.

The game sparked into life in the 45th minute when Jayden Hayward crossed the whitewash for the visitors. Banks added the extras.

Soon after, the hosts hit back with a well-worked try which saw winger Mattia Bellini going over at the end of it to level matters at 13-13 after 51 minutes.

But it was Benetton lock Dean Budd who had the last laugh when he bashed over from close range after the a series of powerful carries from the away side’s forwards as Benetton ran out 20-16 winners.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Try: Bellini
Con: Violi
Pens: Violi, Canna 2

For Benetton:
Tries: Hayward, Budd
Cons: Banks, McKinley
Pens: Banks 2

 

Glasgow 17-0 Edinburgh

Glasgow dominated the possession and territory in this encounter and ran out comfortable 17-0 winners thanks to the boot of playmaker Finn Russell who kicked four penalties.

In a cagey first half, the only scoring action was a Russell penalty before the stadium had to be evacuated due to a fire alarm being set off.

And after a bizarre 20 minute delay in which supporters had to re-enter the stadium, play resumed with no further points scored before the referee called time on the first-half.

Russell extended the hosts’ lead to 6-0 two minutes after the interval with a penalty goal. And 15 minutes later, the Glasgow playmaker made it a 9-0 lead with a further penalty.

After Hamish Watson was penalised for not rolling away, Russell added his fourth penalty in the 72nd minute. The hosts put the cherry on the top as Lee Jones went over in the corner after the hooter had sounded for the game’s only try. Both sides ended with 14 men for some late afters with Chris Fusaro and Fraser McKenzie getting the respective yellow cards for their sides.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:
Try: Jones
Pens: Russell 4
Yellow Card: Fusaro

For Edinburgh:
Yellow Card: McKenzie

 

PRO14 Boxing Day Wrap

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Three PRO14 games took place on Tuesday as Cardiff Blues, Leinster and Scarlets overcame the Dragons, Munster and Ospreys respectively.

Dragons 17-22 Cardiff Blues

The all-Welsh clash at Rodney Parade saw both sides return to league action following a fortnight of Challenge Cup, with Cardiff Blues remaining top of their pool with an impressive win over Sale.

It was a scrappy start between both sides, partly influenced by the heavy downfall that arrived at the start of the game. Dragons were the better of the two, and were given a helping hand as Blues prop Brad Thyer saw yellow as the hosts pressed. But that didn’t produce any points, and we had to wait until just before the half hour mark for the visitors to take the lead. A penalty from the boot of Gareth Anscombe broke the deadlock, following an offside decision against Cory Hill.

That led to a flurry of points before the break, five of which came from Cardiff Blues’ Aled Summerhill. He grabbed the opening try of the match as Summerhill capitalised on the best passing move of the half, as well as the helpful aid of a knee to find the line. Gavin Henson reduced the arrears with a penalty right on half-time, the Blues taking in an 8-3 lead.

The second half started in a similar vein to the first, but the Blues were able to build on their lead with a second try. Rey Lee-Lo got it on 51 minutes, with he and Owen Lane combining well before the former went over. Anscombe added two and before long, Cardiff had the match wrapped up with try number three.

All the work was done in the build up by Matthew Morgan, who allowed replacement Tom James to stumble his way through and seal the win. Anscombe’s extras made it 22-3 with 20 minutes remaining, although the hosts made it interesting with their first try. Lloyd Fairbrother squeezed his way around a challenge, with Henson making it a 12 point gap with the conversion.

It got even more interesting with six minutes left, as a penalty try for Dragons also came with a yellow card to Kirby Myhill, as Dragons threatened to turn the game on its head. But the Blues held off the charge to pick up a 22-17 win.

The scorers:

For Dragons:
Tries: Fairbrother, Penalty try
Con: Henson
Pen: Henson

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Summerhill, Lee-Lo, James
Cons: Anscombe 2
Pen: Anscombe
Yellow Cards: Thyer, Myhill

 

Munster 24-34 Leinster

At a packed out Thomond Park, it was always destined to be a full-on Boxing Day battle between the old rivals. And it was a frantic start that saw Jamison Gibson-Park kick Leinster into the lead just a couple of minutes in. That lead was extended with the first try of the game, as the visitors blew their hosts right out of the water.

The first try cane courtesy of a Ross Byrne kick, which found the welcoming arms of Dan Leavy. He had all the time in the world to cross, with Ross Byrne making the lead double figures. And four minutes later came their second penalty, with Byrne making it a 13 point lead after 13 minutes. Munster got themselves right back into it though after 20 minutes. Having penned Leinster back, Conor Murray leant his way over to level the try scoring – but it was only temporary.

Leinster were the better side and extended their lead with the third try of an all action opening. It came from the whistle of the referee, who allowed a penalty try when Munster failed to hold out an attack – they also lost Andrew Conway to the sin-bin in the process.

It was turning into the nightmare after Christmas for Munster, as Leinster extended their advantage with a third try in 30 minutes. Robbie Henshaw has space and time to pick where he wanted to go, as the Munster defence parted and allowed the conversion to follow for a 27-5 half-time lead.

With a mountain to climb, Munster took a step towards it eight minutes after the restart. Having been in charge from the whistle, Murray found Ian Keatley who found the space to score. Still with a 15 point gap to make up, things got a whole lot brighter with Munster’s third try. Having earlier seen yellow, Conway redeemed himself with five points when the hosts again threw everything at their guests.

It would take some stopping to halt Munster’s fightback, but Jordan Larmour did it superbly. He went the full length to shimmy his way across challenges and through bodies, restoring a 34-19 lead with around 10 minutes remaining.

Such was the nature of the game, there was another late twist. Conway grabbed his second of the afternoon for Munster, sprinting over the line following a Simon Zebo pass. The conversion didn’t follow, leaving a 24-34 scoreline. And that was how it finished at Thomond Park, with Leinster’s dominant first 40 enough to see them home.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Murray, Keatley, Conway 2
Cons: Keatley 2
Yellow Card: Conway

For Leinster:
Tries: Leavy, Penalty try, Henshaw, Larmour
Cons: Byrne 3
Pens: Byrne 2

 

Scarlets 12-9 Ospreys

Table topping Scarlets went into this one looking to complete a league double over Ospreys for the first time in a decade. And although the visitors might be performing well in the Champions Cup, their league form has left them at the foot of Conference A.

The final PRO14 game of the day was something of a slow burner, with Leigh Halfpenny squandering three penalties inside the first 15 minutes before the first points arrived. Unsurprisingly it was the hosts who struck the first try on 17 minutes. Steff Evans was able to seize after Gareth Davies forgot to take the ball with him, going round a challenge to start the scoring. Halfpenny missed his fourth kick at the sticks, and there was only one more moment of note before half-time. And that moment would have a huge impact on the second half.

As Ben John leaped for a Sam Davies kick, he was wiped out by try scoring Evans, who was shown red by Ian Davies after consultation with the TMO. That instantly led to three points from Davies, who gave Ospreys a lead early in the second half in a first 50 minutes that had the visitors 6-5 up.

The Scarlets fans were not enamoured with the officials, and their anger helped to create a feisty encounter that most thought would only go one way before kick-off. But another penalty from Davies created a four point lead for Ospreys, and from that moment on, Ospreys were on top.

With the man extra, they threatened to stretch the lead and wrap up the points, though couldn’t find that killer blow. And that’s why it was little surprise when the 14 men stole the win in overtime. Josh MacLeod capitalised on a kick over the top and grounded, with Ospreys only having themselves to blame as they fell to another league defeat.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: S Evans, Macleod
Con: Halfpenny
Red Card: S Evans

For Ospreys:
Pens: Davies 3

 

Pro14 Wrap – Connacht thump Ulster, Benetton and Edinburgh win

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Benetton were winners in the early PRO14 game, seeing off Zebre, while 14-man Edinburgh beat Glasgow and Connacht thumped Ulster.

Benetton 27-14 Zebre

Benetton picked up their fourth victory of the PRO14 season as they battled past Italian rivals Zebre 27-14 at Stadio Monigo on Saturday.

In contrast, this loss is defeat number eight for Zebre as the home side claimed a bonus-point try to go with the four points they accrued.

Benetton went 5-0 up in the 18th minute when numbers were created wide on the right where Angelo Esposito was sent over by Jayden Hayward. That was to be the only crossing of the half though as Marcello Violi’s penalty for Zebre cut the lead down to two points at the interval.

The hosts came out firing in the second-half and had their second try 60 seconds in when Hame Faiva slipped over from close range.

It was 12-6 when Carlo Canna struck off the tee but Zebre were then down to 14 when Johan Meyer was red carded, Dean Budd being issued a yellow. Marty Banks landed the resulting penalty to make it 15-6, but Zebre hit back through Giulio Bisegni’s well-worked try on 50 minutes.

Banks would then set up Esposito for his second crossing of the day on the right wing, which gave Benetton a 20-14 lead on 65 minutes.

And Edoardo Gori added welcome breathing space on 70 minutes when he dotted down at the back of a dominant scrum to seal the five.

The scorers:

For Benetton:
Tries: Esposito 2, Faiva, Gori
Cons: Banks, McKinley
Pen: Banks
Yellow Card: Budd

For Zebre:
Try: Bellini
Pens: Violi, Canna 2
Red Card: Meyer

 

Edinburgh 18-17 Glasgow

Glasgow Warriors suffered a first defeat this PRO14 campaign after they lost to a 14-man Edinburgh side, going down 18-17 at Murrayfield.

When Edinburgh’s Simon Berghan was sent off for a stamp to the head of Fraser Brown in the fifth minute, a win looked highly unlikely.

But the hosts somehow got the victory with a late try from Chris Dean seeing them stun the Conference leaders in front of over 20,000.

The Warriors did not have things their own way after that fifth minute red card as their lead at the interval was only 7-3 in their favour.

They scored that try on two minutes when Tommy Seymour’s superb line off a line-out led to him sending Huw Jones in for the run-in.

Edinburgh though frustrated their visitors and it remained a four-point ball game at 10-6 until the 56th minute as Pete Horne and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne traded shots. Glasgow would then turn to duo Finn Russell and Niko Matawalu off the bench in the hope of seeing off their hosts.

But it was their pack that conjured their second try when Stuart Cummings crossed in odd style, as the lock backed over from a line-out.

Edinburgh, to their credit, refused to give up and Nathan Fowles’ close-range try on the hour got them back into it at 17-13 before Dean scored the match-winner. Glasgow appeared to have stopped playing as Dean went over with a surprised look on his face for an incredible victory.

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Fowles, Dean
Con: Van der Walt
Pens: Hidalgo-Clyne 2
Red Card: Berghan

For Glasgow:
Tries: Jones, Cummings
Cons: Horne, Russell
Pen: Horne

 

Connacht 44-16 Ulster

Connacht were the dominant side in their inter-provincial derby against Ulster as they hammered their visitors 44-16 in the late fixture.

Ulster were given a harsh lesson by Kieran Keane’s outfit, who ran in six tries to pick up only their fourth victory of the PRO14 season.

Connacht were 20-6 ahead at the break thanks to tries from flank Eoghan Masterson, centre Bundee Aki and full-back Tiernan O’Halloran.

They continued their dominance in the second stanza too, as Ultan Dillane’s pushover try and Jarrad Butler’s simple finish made it 37-6.

Ulster thought they had crossed on 65 minutes when replacement Johnny McPhillips’ grubber through found Louis Ludik, but he fumbled it. However, they scored soon after through wing Craig Gilroy, who finished strongly to give their travelling supporters something to cheer.

But just as Ulster were looking for their second crossing of the evening, an intercept from replacement Eoin Griffin led to fellow substitute Darragh Leader taking on the baton before lock Dillane finished off under the posts for try number six. Jack Carty added the final gloss.

Ulster did however have the final say when Rob Lyttle scored but it didn’t change what was a record win for Connacht over their rivals.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: Masterson, Aki, O’Halloran, Dillane 2, Butler
Cons: Carty 4
Pens: Carty 2
Yellow Card: O’Halloran

For Ulster:
Tries: Gilroy, Lyttle
Pens: Cooney 2
Yellow Cards: Warwick, Ludik

Thanks to

PRO14 Friday Wrap- Kings still without a win

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The Southern Kings have been given another lost after Edinburgh beat them 48-21. The Kings are yet to get a win in the PRO14 and Friday night has been another disappointment for them.

Southern Kings 21-48 Edinburgh

Richard Cockerill was able to welcome six members of the Scotland squad back into his squad for the long journey to South Africa, as the Kings looked to build on last week’s narrow Scarlets loss.

The South African heat might not be the ideal location for an Edinburgh side more at home with freezing nights and howling wind, but it took just three minutes to stamp their authority into the game. The first try quickly came when Fraser McKenzie was at the end of a number of passes to get the first points, Jaco van der Walt adding the two.

Bill Mata swiftly followed McKenzie’s opener, bullying his way down the right flank to find the line, in a destructive start by Edinburgh. The Kings’ woes continued as they lost captain Schalk Ferreira to the sin-bin, all this before the clock had even gone past 11 minutes. A penalty from van der Walt took the long distance visitors to a 15 point lead, before the Kings got their first three through Kurt Coleman.

Try three came on 19 minutes, Grant Gilchrist on hand to finish off a well worked move and batter his way through challenges. The hosts hit back however, as Harlon Klaasen hit the accelerator to break through the centre and narrow the deficit, Coleman making it 10-22.

Two more kicks from Coleman reduced the gap to just six points, but Edinburgh were on hand to strengthen it again after the break. Their fourth try arrived from Dougie Fife, who evaded three Kingsmen to secure the bonus point and restore the gap to a healthy 11. And that grew further when the TMO gave the thumbs up as Sam Hidalgo-Clyde managed to find the post and the line in one.

The match was rounded off with the sixth and seventh Edinburgh tries to add further gloss, Hidalgo-Clyne getting his second in five minute as he went around the back and charged over. And he completed his quickfire hat-trick right at the death, all three coming within a seven minute spell. A late try from Dries van Schalkwyk was something to celebrate for the Kings.

The scorers:

For Kings:
Tries: H Klaasen, Van Schalkwyk
Con: Coleman
Pens: Coleman 3
Yellow Cards: Ferreira, Penxe

For Edinburgh:
Tries: McKenzie, Mata, Gilchrist, Fife, Hidalgo-Clyne 3
Cons: Van der Walt 2, Hidalgo-Clyne 3
Pen: Van der Walt
Yellow Card: Du Preez

 

Glasgow Warriors 40-16 Cardiff Blues

With internationals returning for both sides, it was Cardiff Blues who broke the deadlock inside two minutes as Jarrod Evans dispatched an early penalty through the sticks. And the Blues swiftly added a try for a double figures lead inside the first 10 minutes. Evans combined with Willis Halaholo, with the latter adding the pass to Macauley Cook who went over inside the corner, Evans adding two.

The Warriors battled back and would have narrowed the gap sooner had it not been for the resolute Blues defensive unit, who battled to defend the early lead. But it was cut by the hosts, when Sam Johnson bounced away from a challenge to run through the posts. Peter Horne added two, but Evans quickly fired back with a penalty restoring a 7-13 lead for the Blues.

The game turned on its head midway through the half, as Blues prop Taufa’ao Filise was shown a red card. Not many in the Scotstoun crowd knew why Nigel Owens opted for the sending off, and with an hour left to defend against an extra man, Cardiff’s early lead looked in peril. And it proved so, as Alex Dunbar quickly got Glasgow’s second of the night, Horne putting his side into the ascendancy.

Evans kicked his side back into the lead, Blues taking a 16-14 lead with half an hour remaining. The Welsh side were putting up an incredible fight, but it only got harder when Olly Robinson was shown yellow, the one man disadvantage becoming two. And Ruaridh Jackson swiftly made the extra-extra man pay for Warriors, Horne adding the two for the 21-16 lead.

Samu Vunisa made sure of the home win as the clock ran down with a fourth try, Cardiff’s fighting spirit eventually waning out to the extra Glasgow men. Leonardo Sarto extended the lead as he managed to just get a hand to the ball as he dived for the line, and another try at the death from Niko Matawalu sealed the 40-16 Glasgow win.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:
Tries: Johnson, Dunbar, Jackson, Vunisa, Sarto, Matawalu
Cons: Horne 5

For Cardiff Blues:
Try: Cook
Con: Evans
Pens: Evans 3
Yellow Card: Robinson
Red Card: Filise

 

Dragons 32-32 Ulster

An early yellow shown to Jack Dixon allowed Christian Lealiifano to kick Ulster ahead inside the opening minutes, before the first try followed for the visitors. Craig Gilroy sped down the wing to finish, following neat play in the build up by Louis Ludik and Charles Piutau.

Matthew Screech levelled the try scoring soon after for Dragons, the man at the heart of a drive that allowed Gavin Henson to narrow the gap to just a point, following that with a penalty as the 14 men of the Dragons impressed in the early minutes. Ludik, who had played a part in the Ulster try, was at fault for Dragons second. He slipped, allowing Ashton Hewitt to find the line over in the corner. Henson saw his conversion effort bounce back off the post, Dragons led at 15-8.

A penalty try for Ulster levelled as the half wore on, 15 all in a tightly contested opening 40 minutes. The restart saw Paul Marshall give Ulster the lead, as he went over within a couple of minutes of the sides reemerging.

The visitors were starting to dominate and Gilroy grabbed his second and the bonus point try, Lealiifano making no mistake with the kick as the lead grew to 27-15. Liam Belcher reduced that gap for the Dragons though with 10 left to play, the Welsh side keeping it in the balance. And Angus O’Brien added another try as Ulster’s lead disappeared, finishing off a break from Henson who levelled the scoring with a conversion.

It looked like the comeback was completed with a minute to go, Hewitt putting the Dragons five points clear after three tries in 10 minutes. But in overtime, Lealiifano found the line to make it 32 apiece. He failed to secure the win though as the conversion effort missed the sticks, the points shared in an enthralling 32-32 draw.

The scorers:

For Dragons:
Tries: Screech, Hewitt 2, Belcher, O’Brien
Cons: Henson 2
Pen: Henson
Yellow Card: Dixon

For Ulster:
Tries: Gilroy 2, P Marshall, Penalty try, Lealiifano
Cons: Lealiifano
Pen: Lealiifano

Kings fall short again with Muster and Glasgow with bonus point wins

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The Kings was once again at the end of a match they should have won when Scarlets sneak past the Kings on Sunday to win 34-30.

Wasted opportunities and decision making at crucial stages of the match cost them at the end although the inconsistent officiating from Stuart Berry  did not help.

He did not look like he wanted to be there in the first place and let Scarlets get away with murder at he rucks and mauls from lineouts.

But at the end the referee cannot be blamed for the lost as the Kings had all the opportunities to seal the victory.

Dan Jones’ late try proved crucial as the Scarlets held off a spirited Southern Kings side to secure their eighth league victory of the campaign following a 34-30 triumph.

The South African outfit have struggled in their first season in the PRO14, but they were much improved against the high-flying Welsh region.

Wayne Pivac’s men still had enough quality to defeat their opponents but, despite an early converted try for Tadhg Beirne, they were made to work for it.

Michael Makase reduced the arrears for the hosts by touching down and Yaw Penxe then gave the strugglers the lead for the first time in the match, crossing the whitewash after 16 minutes.

Oliver Zono’s two penalties to Jones’ one took the home side 16-10 ahead at the break before they increased that buffer minutes into the second period via Martin du Toit.

Evidently frustrated by their performance, the Scarlets finally hit their stride and successive scores from Ioan Nicholas and Werner Kruger regained their advantage.

Jones’ three-pointer appeared to end the Southern Kings’ resistance but the South African team hit back when Harlon Klaasen pounced on a mistake to score.

However, they could not hold on and the Scarlets’ excellent fly-half snatched the win.

The scorers:

For Kings:
Tries: Makase, Penxe, Du Toit, H Klaasen
Cons: Zono, Coleman
Pens: Zono 2

For Scarlets:
Tries: Beirne, Nicholas, Kruger, Jones
Cons: Jones 4
Pens: Jones 2

Zebre 19-36 Munster

Alex Wootton’s second-half brace helped Munster maintain their play-off push following a comfortable 36-19 triumph over Zebre.

The Irish province dominated the opening half-hour and, after JJ Hanrahan had kicked an early penalty, Rory Scannell scampered across the whitewash.

James Hart then touched down to increase their lead to 17-0 before a yellow card for Robin Copeland saw the momentum swing in the hosts’ favour.

Two quick-fire tries by Giulio Bisegni and Jacopo Sarto – the second after the visitors had been reduced to 13 men following Sam Arnold’s yellow – put the game in the balance.

However, Munster regained their composure and sealed the victory via Wootton’s double and Calvin Nash’s score, despite Giovanbattista Venditti getting over for a consolation.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Tries: Bisegni, Sarto, Venditti
Cons:  Palazzani 2

For Munster:
Tries: Scannell, Hart, Wootton 2, Nash
Cons: Hanrahan 4
Pen: Hanrahan
Yellow Cards: Copeland, Arnold

 

Ospreys 6-47 Glasgow Warriors

The Glasgow Warriors juggernaut shows no sign of abating after another thoroughly impressive performance saw them thrash the Ospreys 47-6 for their ninth successive PRO14 triumph.

In what has been an outstanding weekend for Scottish rugby, following the exploits of the national side yesterday, Dave Rennie’s men continued the feel-good factor.

Despite Sam Davies opening the scoring for the Conference A’s bottom placed side, Adam Hastings hit back for the league leaders.

George Horne then scampered over for the Warriors as they increased their advantage to 11 points before Davies’ second three-pointer kept the hosts in the contest at the interval.

However, the Ospreys had little answer to Glasgow’s excellence after the break as quick-fire Scott Cummings and George Turner tries completed the bonus-point.

Horne, Brandon Thomson and Leonardo Sarto then rubber stamped an emphatic victory as the Welsh region’s atrocious season continued.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Pens: Davies 2
Yellow Cards:

For Glasgow:
Tries: Hastings, Horne 2, Cummings, Turner, Thomson, Sarto
Cons: Hastings 6

 

 

Wins for Ulster, Cardiff Blues and Leinster

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Cardiff Blues 36–30 Connacht
Cardiff Arms Park

Cardiff Blues held off a late fight back to seal a 36-30 win over Connacht.

With changes aplenty in the Cardiff side, they fell behind after a strong start by the visitors, with Jack Carty sending a penalty through. They were soon on terms though with Jarrod Evans dispatching a three pointer.

And they didn’t have to wait long before grabbing the opening try. Olly Robinson got his first for the side after good initial work from Willis Halaholo, and Evans converted. The lead quickly became 10 when he sent another three through, Blues 13-3 to the good.

Halaholo was soon at fault at the other end though as Connacht narrowed the lead. His pass was cut out by Niyi Adeolokun, with the conversion followed by a levelling penalty. But Cardiff Blues did take a three point advantage into the break thanks to a last minute three points from Evans, 16-13 at half-time.

The first points of the second half went the hosts way, especially after Eoin Griffin saw yellow. This produced a quick fire try from Matthew Morgan in the corner, the lead heading to double figures.

Connacht were quickly back into it after a drive saw Shane Delahunt go through, but a third from Owen Lane came after neat handling from Gareth Anscombe. He in turn added two, 30-18 the lead.

It was a frantic finale, all spurred by a yellow shown to Nick Williams for a shove on a Connacht man. That soon led to a third try for the visitors, coming from Delahunt again to make it 30-23.

A penalty made the lead 10 again but Connacht piled on more pressure with a try from John Muldoon making it just a three point Cardiff lead. But a late penalty from Anscombe sealed the 36-30 win.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Robinson, Morgan, Lane
Cons: Evans, Anscombe 2
Pens: Evans 3, Anscombe 2
Yellow Card: Williams

For Connacht:
Tries: Adeolokun, Delahunt 2, Muldoon
Cons: Carty, Crosbie
Pens: Carty 2
Yellow Card: Griffin

 

Leinster 54-10 Dragons
RDS Arena

Eight tries sealed a dominant 54-10 Leinster win at the RDS Arena.

Leinster were able to welcome back skipper Isa Nacewa and a number of other first teamers for their tie with Dragons on Friday night. And if they were to keep the pressure on Scarlets, victory was a must.

It was Dragons who got the ball rolling though, with Gavin Henson sending a drop goal through within the first three minutes at the RDS. And that lead was strengthened in an incredible opening for the visitors.

James Benjamin went over for try number one, coming after a strong passage of play. Henson converted, but Leinster were soon back in contention.

Jamison Gibson-Park soon cut the lead with the hosts’ first try, bouncing back from the unexpected early deficit. And normal service was resumed when Nacewa found the line, marking his triumphant return and putting Leinster ahead.

Dragons half was getting worse as it went on and before the break, they’d shipped four tries. The third came when Josh Murphy was given the all clear by the TMO, not a bad way to mark his first home bow. And the fourth produced the bonus point, with Max Deegan leaving Dragons with a mountain to climb, 28-10 behind.

Dragons woes continued as they saw Angus O’Brien shown a yellow for an intentional knock on, and his absence quickly produced a penalty try as Leinster put the 14 men to the sword. Nacewa got his second try as number six was chalked up, Dragons already consigned to defeat with 25 minutes on the clock still.

Two more tries followed as Leinster destroyed the Welsh side, Rory O’Loughlin grabbing the eighth to compound Dragons woes in a 54-10 result.

The scorers:

For Leinster:
Tries: Gibson-Park, Nacewa 2, Murphy, Deegan, Penalty Try, O’Loughlin, Larmour
Cons: Byrne 6, Marsh

For Dragons:
Try: Benjamin
Con: Henson
Drop Goal: Henson
Yellow Card: O’Brien

 

Ulster 23-22 Benetton
Kingspan Stadium

A final minute conversion from Christian Lealiifano spared Ulster blushes in a 23-22 win for the hosts.

Paul Marshall was forced to wait from the bench for his 200th Ulster appearance, in what was widely expected to be a straight forward victory against Italian opposition. Tommaso Allan did give the visitors an early lead thanks to a brace of penalties, but the lead didn’t last too long.

Tommy Bowe went through for the first try after a scrum, with John Cooney helping him along the way before the former found the right corner. Cooney himself added the two, and followed it with a wonderful kick from distance to make it 10-6. A further kick from each side made it a slender 13-9 Ulster lead at the break.

Another kick from Allan had Ulster looking over their shoulders, with just a single point separating the two sides with half an hour still on the clock. The lead switched hands as Treviso got their first try, Robert Barbieri claiming a loose ball and nipping through, the Italians taking a surprise six point advantage.

Christian Lealiifano reduced that back down to three as a frantic final 20 looked assured. Marty Banks pushed it back to six, but a second Ulster try from Andrew Trimble allowed Lealiifano to kick them a single point ahead right at the death and seal an unconvincing 23-22 win.

The scorers:

For Ulster:
Tries: Bowe, Trimble
Cons: Cooney, Lealiifano
Pens: Cooney 2, Lealiifano

For Benetton:
Try: Barbieri
Con: Allan
Pens: Allan 4, Banks

Cheetahs beat Edinburgh in Bloem

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The Cheetahs claimed a hard-fought 33-13 victory over Edinburgh in PRO14 action at Free State Stadium in Bloemfontein on Friday evening.

Tries from Craig Barry, Rynier Bernardo, Junior Pokomela and Makazole Mapimpi proved too much for Edinburgh who scored through Sam Hidalgo-Clyne

Despite both sides playing enterprising rugby, the first points of the match only came in the 26th minute and it came as the Cheetahs opted for a scrum penalty after Edinburgh were penalised for taking too long to throw into the lineout. From the scrum, the home side took the ball wide and a perfectly weighted grubber from Clayton Blommetjies allowed substitute Barry to race on to the ball having run the perfect line to dot down. Fred Zeilinga added the extras.

And the hosts scored again just before the half-time whistle to take a 14-0 lead in to the interval. It was that man Blommetjies again who made the initial break. The ball was recycled to the right where William Small-Smith produced a long pass out to the touchline for Bernardo to dot down.

But the visitors began to claw their way back after the break first through a Sam Hidalgo-Clyne penalty after the Cheetahs were penalised for not rolling away.

Then the nippy scrum-half waltzed over at the back of an attacking scrum completely unchallenged. He converted his try and after adding another penalty the deficit stood at only one with half an hour to go.

The Cheetahs showed their forward power with a dominant five-metre scrum which they pushed all the away over the try-line with Pokomela the man to exert downward pressure on the ball and claim the score. Zeilinga added the extras to make the score 21-13 to the Cheetahs with twenty minutes to go.

Mapimpi put the game beyond doubt with the bonus-point try as he consolidated his position as the PRO14’s top try-scorer with his ninth try of the campaign. It was a brilliant team move from the Cheetahs who took the ball through the phases showing showing patience and ball retention before Mapimpi eventually dotted down in the far left-hand corner.

And subsitute scrum-half Meyer put the icing on the cake profiting from quick Cheetahs turnover ball and Zeilinga converted as the home side ran out 33-13 winners

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Barry, Bernardo, Pokomela, Mapimpi, Meyer
Cons: Zeilinga 4

For Edinburgh:
Try: Hidalgo-Clyne
Con: Hidalgo-Clyne
Pen: Hidalgo-Clyne 2

Kings and Cheetahs comes up short

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Ulster, Edinburgh, Connacht and Cardiff Blues claimed wins over Kings, Ospreys, Cheetahs and Zebre in Saturday’s PRO14 action.

Kings 36-43 Ulster

Robbie Diack scored a try with four minutes left on the clock which proved to be the match-winner for Ulster as they won 43-36 in Port Elizabeth.

The home side got off to an excellent start, with Berton Klaasen scoring a try after four minutes before Yaw Penxe added another three minutes later, which Oliver Zono converted, to give them a 12-0 lead before the 10 minute mark.

Sean Reidy hit back for the away side with a try after 19 minutes before Zono landed a penalty to extend the Kings’ lead.

Ulster scored another try through John Andrew before Michael Makase crossed for the Kings’ third. Penxe went from hero to villain when he was sin-binned five minutes before half-time, but the home side didn’t concede before the hooter to secure a 22-10 half-time lead.

Andrew scored again 10 minutes into the second-half before a John Cooney try and conversion levelled the scores at 22-22.

Klaasen got his second try for the Kings next and then Andrew Trimble scored for Ulster, with the scores level again with 10 minutes remaining.

Clive Ross dotted down for Ulster in the 73rd minute to give the away side the lead for the first time in the match before Penxe went in for his second to level scores yet again. Diack though scored a try late on which proved to be the match-winner, securing Ulster a 43-36 win.

The scorers:

For Kings:
Tries: Klaasen 2, Penxe 2, Makase
Cons: Zono 3, Coleman
Pen: Zono
Yellow Card: Penxe

For Ulster:
Tries: Reidy, Andrew 2, Cooney, Trimble, Ross, Diack
Cons: Cooney, Lealiifano 3

 

Edinburgh 37-10 Ospreys

Edinburgh earned a 37-10 victory over Ospreys in their PRO14 clash at Myreside Stadium on Saturday night.

Jason Tovey starred by scoring a try and landing four conversions and three penalties for the home side.

The away side scored first through a Dimitri Arhip try after 12 minutes of play. Tovey hit back for the home side with a penalty before Sam Davies cancelled it out with one of his own.

Blair Kinghorn scored Edinburgh’s first try in the 29th minute. Brendon Leonard was sin binned for Ospreys before Tovey nailed two more penalties to make the half-time score 16-10 to Edinburgh.

The home side came out all guns blazing for the second, with Nathan Fowles dotting down two minutes after play resumed.

Tovey sealed his solid performance with a try of his own to hand his side a 30-10 lead before Magnus Bradbury went in after the final hooter sounded to secure the home side a 37-10 victory

The scorers:

For Edinburgh:
Tries: Kinghorn, Fowles, Tovey, Bradburt
Cons: Tovey 4
Pens: Tovey 3

For Ospreys:
Try: Arhip
Con: Davies
Pen: Davies
Yellow Card: Leonard

 

Cardiff Blues 37-8 Zebre

Cardiff Blues turned on the style with a comprehensive 37-8 victory over Zebre in PRO14 action at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.

Tries from Lloyd Williams, Willis Halaholo, Matthew Rees, Matthew Morgan and Tom James proved too much for Zebre who scored through a sole Guglielmo Palazzani try.

Cardiff Blues took an early 5-0 lead after good line speed in defence initially by Gethin Jenkins forced the turnover and Halaholo passed to Williams who raced 50 metres to dot down. Steve Shingler missed the conversion.

Zebre fly-half Carlo Canna notched a penalty to cut the deficit to two.

Halaholo then got himself in the try column with a trademark step and finish in the far right corner. Shingler extended the lead to 12-3 with the conversion.

Shingler added another two penalties as the Blues took an 18-3 lead in to the interval.

Rees extended the hosts’ lead when he bashed over at the back of a driving maul after a superb Shingler kick found touch on the five-metre line.

The bonus-point try came from full-back Morgan after his one-two with Blaine Scully before James rubbed salt in Zebre wounds when he bashed over for the Blues’ fifth.

Zebre scored a consolation try when Palazzani crossed for the visitors who lost 37-8 in the end.

The scorers:

For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Williams, Halaholo, Rees, Morgan, James
Cons: Shingler 3
Pens: Shingler 2

For Zebre:
Try: Palazzani
Pen: Canna

 

Connacht 23-15 Cheetahs

Connacht claimed a hard-fought 23-15 victory despite a late onslaught from the Cheetahs in PRO14 action at the Sportsground on Saturday.

Craig Ronaldson gave Connacht an early 3-0 lead with a penalty

The first try of the game came via good Connacht hands before Niyi Adeolokun made an instant impact upon his return to the starting XV when he got on the outside of opposite number Luther Obi whom he left trailing in his wake. Ronaldson made sure with the conversion as Connacht led 10-0 by the 14-minute mark.

Ronaldson further extended the home side’s lead to 13-0 with another three points from the tee on the half-hour mark.

The Cheetahs’ ball was slow and they were unable to trouble the Connacht defence in the first half except for an Ernst Stapelberg penalty on the half-time whistle as the home side took a 13-3 lead in to the interval.

Connacht’s second try came after some persistent pressure which saw the home side take the ball through numerous phases showing good patience and ball retention as Tom McCartney bashed over from close range. Jack Carty added the extras to make it 20-3 with 50 minutes gone.

The Cheetahs finally showed they are capable of breaching the line when they scored in the 68th minute after good work by Shaun Venter to break his tackle and race in to touch down in the right-hand corner.

A quick tap penalty saw the ball go wide and the Connacht defence caught napping by Makazole Mapimpi who broke the tackle of Gavin Thornbury to dot down in the left-hand corner. Stapelberg added the extras as the Cheetahs cut the deficit to eight at 23-15.

But Connacht held on for a solid victory.

The scorers:

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Venter, Mapimpi
Con: Zeilinga
Pen: Stapelberg

For Connacht:
Tries: Adeolokun, McCartney
Cons: Ronaldson, Carty
Pens: Ronaldson 2, Crosbie

Jacques Nienaber Speaks About His Time At Munster

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Jacques Nienaber speaks about his time at the province following his last home game in Irish Independent Park tonight as we defeated Dragons 49-6.

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Wins for Munster, Glasgow and Scarlets in PRO14

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Munster, Glasgow Warriors and Scarlets picked up PRO14 wins on Friday, defeating the Dragons, Leinster and Benetton Rugby.

Munster 49-6 Dragons

A dominant display from Munster saw them ease to a seven-try 49-6 victory over Dragons at Irish Independent Park.

Despite making 10 changes from last week’s victory over Connacht, Munster were the better side from the off and grabbed the first try right on the 20 minute mark. It came as little surprise when Rory Scannell found the line following JJ Hanrahan’s work in the build up, and the Munster fly-half’s conversion swiftly followed.

Dragons’ Angus O’Brien narrowed the gap back down to four almost immediately, making no mistake with his first effort at the sticks. They failed to really get a grip on the game however, and Munster’s lead grew when Simon Zebo made his way over for a 14-3 advantage at the break.

O’Brien was on hand to send a second penalty through early in the second half, but it was Munster who again had the big impact with their third try. Jack O’Donoghue went through following a strong break from Robin Copeland, with the extras following for the 21-6 advantage. Dragons never really looked like getting back into the game and Darren Sweetnam took it even further from them with a fourth Munster try, Hanrahan converting.

Try number five came from Sam Arnold, adding the finishing touch after Hanrahan burst through the centre to perfectly set up the Munster replacement and add the two. The hosts were enjoying themselves and try six came when a line-out maul left Dragons clutching at shirts before they inevitably allowed the power of Munster through. Arnold got his second of the night as the clock ran down, Hanrahan continuing his 100 percent record for the evening for a seventh straight conversion.

Dragons’ second 40 had undone all their promise of the first half, shedding five tries and adding just a single penalty to their tally as they fell to a hefty defeat.

The scorers:

For Munster:
Tries: Scannell, Zebo, O’Donoghue, Sweetnam, Arnold 2, O’Byrne
Cons: Hanrahan 7

For Dragons:
Pens: O’Brien 2

Glasgow Warriors 31-21 Leinster

Glasgow Warriors claimed a bonus-point victory over Leinster with a 31-21 win in an enthralling contest.

Hoping to bounce back from the demoralising defeat just a couple of weeks ago in the Champions Cup, it was an exhilarating start that saw Warriors put in a much better showing than they did against Leinster in their last meeting. But that only came after Leinster’s opening try on four minutes. Jamison Gibson-Park got the ball rolling after some lovely footwork in the build up by Jordan Larmour, with Ross Byrne safely converting for the seven-point lead.

But Warriors fired back instantly and Niko Matawalu’s offload led to George Horne grabbing his second in two games. Despite getting level immediately, they were soon behind for the second time. Rory O’Loughlin got number two following strong work in the pack, and Byrne again added two.

It was breathless for the entire first 40, and Warriors again fought back when Nick Grigg dotted over from five metres, although it was all thanks to Matawalu’s quick feet that kept the move alive. Leinster were dealt a major blow when they lost Jordi Murphy found himself with a yellow to his name, penalised for a tackle from an offside position. And that swung the momentum Glasgow’s way, as Horne got his second of the night. His side were pushing for the line and despite the best efforts of the 14 men, Horne snuck through – and the bonus point was secured moments later.

Despite not having any points to his name for the evening, Matawalu was the real difference maker and he went the length of the pitch to bamboozle the opposition, feeding Grigg right at the end for number four and a 28-14 lead. A Pete Horne penalty before the break saw Glasgow take in a deserved 31-14 half-time advantage.

Early in the second half Glasgow were given reason to worry, as they lost Scott Cummings to the sin-bin for disrupting a maul. And that prompted the third Leinster try of the evening. Adam Byrne narrowly managed to squeeze over the line before being forced into touch, with the TMO giving the all clear. Conversion followed, Leinster finding themselves well placed for a comeback at 31-21.

Having welcomed Cummings back, Warriors returned back to 14 men after a harsh yellow was shown to Alex Dunbar, Leinster continuing to cling onto hope. But that’s all it was, with Glasgow seeing out the 10 point victory in an impressive showing.

The scorers:

For Glasgow:
Tries: G Horne 2, Grigg 2
Cons: P Horne 4
Pen: P Horne

For Leinster:
Tries: Gibson-Park, O’Loughlin, A Byrne
Cons: R Byrne 3

Scarlets 20-8 Benetton

Scarlets were made to work for the win, but a try in each half saw the reigning PRO14 champions claim a 20-8 victory.

Last season saw Scarlets ease to a 51-4 victory over Treviso, but they knew they could be up against a stronger side this time around with the Italian side boasting three wins so far this campaign.

It only took a couple of minutes for Scarlets to trouble the scoreboard, with a Dan Jones kick coming after his side tease their way towards the Treviso try line. And the lead grew after a terrible attempt at a catch from Cherif Traore. A standard kick looked to be easily claimed, only for Traore to knock on, allow the scrum and subsequently see Jones go through and convert. 10-0 was the lead for Scarlets and the Italians looked in a world of trouble.

Ian McKinley narrowed the gap down to seven though with his first penalty of the night, only for another three from the boot of Jones to send the reigning champions into the break with a 13-3 lead.

The visitors narrowed that three minutes into the second half when McKinley went through for a wonderful solo effort. Coming from a line-out, he skipped past two challenges to go through the hosts backline and get Treviso right back into the game.

Scarlets always looked the more likely to add to the scoreline next, and even more so when Andrea Bronzin was shown yellow for a knock on. The hosts could eventually breath a little easier with 10 minutes remaining when they got their second try of the night. Jones kick through was claimed by Scott Williams, who gathered and dived over to calm home nerves.

The scorers:

For Scarlets:
Tries: D Jones, Williams
Cons: D Jones 2
Pens: D Jones 2

For Benetton:
Try: McKinley
Pen: McKinley

Preview – Scarlets v Benetton 

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Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac can call on the services of centres Scott Williams and Hadleigh Parkes and back-row John Barclay, all released from their international camps for the championship clash at Parc y Scarlets.

Williams will captain the side as the Scarlets look to secure their seventh victory in the PRO14 to keep them atop of Conference B with the championship taking a fortnight’s break after round eight’s completion.

Barclay will make his first appearance in Scarlets colours since suffering a concussion against Edinburgh at the end of September. Barclay’s return sees Tadhg Beirne move to blindside flank with Will Boyde on the openside. Lewis Rawlins and David Bulbring partner up in the second row with Dylan Evans, Ryan Elias and Werner Kruger packing down in the front row.

Johnny McNicholl moves to full-back with Paul Asquith coming in on the wing. Winger Tom Prydie, fly-half Dan Jones and scrum-half Jonathan Evans will make their first competitive starts for the region.

Looking ahead to the challenge head coach Pivac said; “It’s probably our biggest test since we took over as a coaching group.

“It’s exciting. We’ve talked about how well we’ve gone in the last few years during the international windows and this is the biggest test for that particular group of people.

“We want to put on a good display as a team so everybody can hopefully enjoy the success and enjoy what has been a proud run at home in this competition.

“Having said that we’re expecting a big challenge. It’s a home game, we see all home games as a must win for us and if they come over fully loaded we’ll be very happy to come out of it with a win. It’s definitely a target of ours to get four points.”

Meanwhile, Benetton head coach Kieran Crowley has made 10 changes to his starting XV that lost at home to Edinburgh last weekend.

In the back-line, Jayden Hayward lines up at full-back alongside Angelo Esposito and Andrea Bronzini, who are on the wings. Tommaso Benvenuti and Ignacio Brex will form the midfield combination.

The half backs are Giorgio Bronzini, who starts at scrum-half, and fly-half Ian McKinley.

The front row will consist of Tomas Baravalle, who packs down at hooker, with Cherif Traore and Tiziano Pasquali the starting props.

Alessandro Zanni and Federico Ruzza will pack down in the second row. Finally, the back row sees Whetu Douglas and Nasi Manu starting on the flanks with captain Robert Barbieri (number eight) completing the XV chosen by Crowley.

The teams:

Scarlets: 15 Johnny McNicholl, 14 Tom Prydie, 13 Hadleigh Parkes, 12 Scott Williams (c), 11 Paul Asquith, 10 Dan Jones, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 John Barclay, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Tadhg Beirne, 5 David Bulbring, 4 Lewis Rawlins, 3 Werner Kruger, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Dylan Evans
Replacements: 16 Taylor Davies, 17 Rhys Fawcett, 18 Simon Gardiner, 19 Tom Price, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Declan Smith, 22 Rhys Jones, 23 Steff Hughes

Benetton: 15 Jayden Hayward, 14 Angelo Esposito, 13 Tommaso Benvenuti, 12 Ignacio Brex, 11 Andrea Bronzini, 10 Ian McKinley, 9 Giorgio Bronzini, 8 Robert Barbieri (c), 7 Nasi Manu, 6 Whetu Douglas, 5 Federico Ruzza, 4 Alessandro Zanni, 3 Tiziano Pasquali, 2 Tomas Baravalle, 1 Cherif Traore
Replacements: 16 Federico Zani, 17 Alberto De Marchi, 18 Filippo Filippetto, 19 Marco Lazzaroni, 20 Sebastian Negri, 21 Edoardo Gori, 22 Alberto Sgarbi, 23 Luca Sperandio

thanks to 

Giles set for knee surgery

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Ospreys wing Keelan Giles will undergo reconstructive surgery after suffering a “significant knee ligament injury” against the Dragons.

The wing was stretchered off after an hour of the PRO14 derby clash at the Liberty Stadium on Friday and Chris Towers, Medical Performance Manager at the Ospreys, revealed the disappointing news on their website.

“Keelan has sustained a significant knee ligament injury and will require reconstructive surgery,” he said. “We are currently in the process of seeking expert opinion to formulate the best course of management going forward and will provide appropriate updates when necessary.”

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Cheetahs snatch victory

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Substitute Fred Zeilinga hit a dramatic late penalty as Toyota Cheetahs claimed a thrilling win in the last minute away at Conference A rivals Zebre.

Tries from Matteo Minozzi and Oliviero Fabiani seemingly set the hosts on course for victory while Carlo Canna was deadly from the tee against the South Africans.

But the visitors were dangerous throughout and scored two tries of their own from Makazole Mapimpi, the second setting up a grandstand finish.

And Zeilinga came off the bench to kick the winning points, earning his side their first ever away win in the Guinness PRO14.

Following a one-point defeat to Edinburgh Rugby last time out, Zebre had a point to prove but they faced a substantial challenge against a Cheetahs side that had won two of their last three games.

And if Zebre needed any further evidence about the size of the task they were up against, then the Cheetahs gave it to them in the fifth minute.

A neat move resulted in Mapimpi, one of the league’s most dangerous wingers, touching down for his sixth try of the season.

But Zebre, buoyed on by their home supporters, rallied as Minzzoi dotted down just minutes after Canna booted two of his three penalties.

The Italian fly-half kicked another to give the home side an eight-point lead at the break and they stretched that when Fabiani rumbled over for a superb score.

Yet the Cheetahs hit back as Mapimpi scored his second of the match with a fine finish and Ernst Stapelberg slotted through three penalties.

Zebre thought they had done enough to win but Zeilinga came off the bench to score the winning points, giving the away side their fourth win of the season.

The scorers:

For Zebre:
Tries: Minozzi, Fabiani
Cons: Canna 2
Pens: Canna 3

For Cheetahs:
Tries: Mapimpi 2
Con: Zeilinga
Pens: Stapelberg 3, Zeilinga

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Kings still without a win

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Glasgow Warriors responded to their European disappointment in fine style as they made it seven wins from seven in the Guinness PRO14 with a 43-13 win over Southern Kings at Scotstoun on Friday night.

While the final score shows a convincing Warriors win, this was a tight game for much of the first half until a three-minute blitz from the home side swung the momentum their way.

Two converted tries in quick succession helped Dave Rennie’s team take control of the game, and Zander Fagerson added a fourth just before the hour to wrap up the bonus point.

That keeps the Warriors in control of Conference A, and was the perfect response to successive losses to Exeter Chiefs and Leinster in Europe.

The Warriors made a dream start when Stuart Hogg crossed after just a minute, the Scotland full-back picking up from where he left off a week ago against Leinster. He finished off a brilliant score, made by Sam Johnson’s break through the middle.

At that point it looked as if the Warriors were going to cruise to a seventh straight victory in the Guinness PRO14, but the Kings fought back well and took the lead thanks to two Maxisole Banda penalties, with the visitors showing their strength in the set-piece.

Glasgow needed a response, and they finally got one just after the half-hour with two tries in the space of three minutes.

The first came after a scrum in midfield with Nick Grigg sent on a powerful run. While he was stopped, a couple of rucks later Niko Matawalu showed his athleticism to leap over the ruck and dot down.

Adam Hastings converted, and was at it again three minutes later following Grigg’s score.

That try came after a chargedown deep in Kings territory. The Warriors kept pressing and eventually man of the match George Horne’s wide pass put Grigg over.

That made it 19-6 at the break, with Glasgow just one try away from the bonus point.

The second half was a slow burner initially, but having worked their way up into Kings territory, the Warriors turned to a training park move to extend their lead.

From a five-metre lineout, Jonny Gray took the ball and then as Fagerson looped around the ball was palmed down to him. At full pelt there was no way he was going to be stopped by Rudi van Rooyen and the Warriors prop crashed over. Hastings’ conversion came back off the post.

They were able to push on from there, with Matt Smith emerging from a pile of bodies after a dominant rolling maul from the home side. Having come on for Hastings, Ruaridh Jackson imitated him by hitting the post with the conversion attempt.

Try number six followed, this time the impressive Horne sniping over, and although the Kings responded with an intercept score by Jacques Nel, the Warriors had the last laugh as George Turner crossed for a final try with the last play of the game.

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Ospreys back to winning ways

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Ospreys returned to winning ways with a bonus-point win over Dragons.

In this all Welsh affair, Ospreys were the better side in the early exchanges and Dan Biggar eventually gave them the lead on the 20 minute mark, just rewards for a strong start at the Liberty. But Dragons bounced back and had their defensive work to thank after being barraged early on. Leon Brown levelled with one of their first real attacks, powering his way underneath Ospreys bodies for a belated 21st birthday present.

Gavin Henson kicked Dragons into a two-point lead from the resulting conversion, as Ospreys were left ruing missed opportunities to stretch their advantage. But they didn’t have long to wait before retaking the lead, as Sam Parry slid in on the right after a passing move sliced open the Dragons defence. The conversion failed to find the sticks but Biggar safely kicked a three pointer through for a 13-7 lead at half-time.

Biggar added three more to extend the gap to nine points, but Elliot Dee cut that right down after he just managed to get the ball a centimetre or two over the line. Henson added the two, with Dragons just a couple of points shy of their opponents.

But then Ospreys scrum-half Brendon Leonard was at the heart of a small maul and they turned their way over the line for a 21-14 lead.

And the bonus point was secured with 10 minutes left when Ma’afu Fia bundled his way over, 28-14 the final score.

The scorers:

For Ospreys:
Tries: Biggar, Parry, Leonard, Fia
Con: Biggar
Pens: Biggar 2

For Dragons:
Tries: Brown, Dee
Cons: Henson 2

Connacht get one over Munster

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A red card to Andrew Conway proved the game changer as Connacht beat Munster 20-16.

With attention turning back to the PRO14 after the European interruptions, there was no better way for these sides to return than with a tasty Friday night derby at the Sportsground.

It was a fast paced start that saw the visitors go ahead, as Simon Zebo carved his way through a couple of challenges to find the line, with the two following from Ian Keatley. Connacht were soon back in it though, grabbing their first points after Keatley had taken the lead to 10.

Tiernan O’Halloran made his way over with the conversion from Jack Carty swiftly following. Keatley restored a six point lead with another safely executed penalty, as Munster kept full control of the first half. Carty’s late kick narrowed it to a 13-10 Munster lead at the break.

Carty followed up his late penalty with another after the break, with the hosts drawing level at 13 apiece. And they looked the far likelier to pick up the points after Munster’s Conway was shown a red card after an incident, the TMO deeming him to have used an elbow on Carty.

It was Munster who retook the lead though, a kick from CJ Stander putting the 14 men three points to the good. But almost immediately, Connacht struck with a try. Tom Farrell took advantage of the extra man by going through, with Craig Ronaldson putting Connacht 20-16 ahead with 10 to play. And that proved to be enough, with the red cart pivotal in the hosts victory.

The scorers:

For Connacht:
Tries: O’Halloran, Farrell
Cons: Carty, Ronaldson
Pens: Carty 2

For Munster:
Try: Zebo
Con: Keatley
Pens: Keatley 2, Hanrahan
Red Card: Conway

PRO14 Preview: Friday

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Three fixtures take place in the PRO14 on Friday which include derbies between Connacht and Munster and the Ospreys and Dragons.

Connacht v Munster

John Muldoon returns to captain Connacht with Kieran Marmion, Ultan Dillane, Finlay Bealham, Tom McCartney, Tom Farrell, Jarrad Butler and Cian Kelleher also coming into the starting team.

Tiernan O’Halloran starts at full-back with Darragh Leader and Kelleher on the two flanks. Farrell joins Bundee Aki in the centre as Marmion and Jack Carty form the half-back partnership.

Bealham, McCartney and Denis Buckley make up the front row with Dillane and James Cannon in the second row. Muldoon’s return sees him wear the number 8 jersey with Eoin McKeon in at blindside and Jarrad Butler at openside.

Niyi Adeolokun is named in the matchday 23 for the first time this season as he returns from injury.

Speaking ahead of the clash, Kieran Keane said: “There has been constant improvement from the lads, which has been refreshing for us. It has become pretty clear to me these local derbies are really important to the players, and they have been putting their hands up because they really want to play, so it brings excitement. I am excited by the occasion as much as they are.”

Meanwhile, Rassie Erasmus has made three changes to his Munster side. In the front five John Ryan and Mark Flanagan are promoted from the bench this week, with Ryan joining Dave Kilcoyne and Rhys Marshall in the front row as Flanagan links up with his second row partner Billy Holland once again.  Holland has started every game this season, playing the full 80 in each game, bar a 10 minute sin binning period against Glasgow.

The international back row trio of captain Peter O’Mahony, Tommy O’Donnell and CJ Stander complete the pack.

The half-back pairing of Conor Murray and Ian Keatley continue as they were and the only change to the backline is a straight swop as Andrew Conway takes the place of Darren Sweetnam to start on the wing, joining Keith Earls and Simon Zebo in the back three.

The teams:

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Darragh Leader, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Tom Farrell, 11 Cian Kelleher, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 James Cannon, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Quinn Roux, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Craig Ronaldson, 23 Niyi Adeolokun

Munster: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Chris Farrell, 12 Rory Scannell, 11 Keith Earls, 10 Ian Keatley, 9 Conor Murray, 8 CJ Stander, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 Peter O’Mahony (c), 5 Billy Holland, 4 Mark Flanagan, 3 John Ryan, 2 Rhys Marshall, 1 Dave Kilcoyne
Replacements: 16 Kevin O’Byrne, 17 Liam O’Connor, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Sean McCarthy, 20 Jack O’Donoghue, 21 Duncan Williams, 22 JJ Hanrahan, 23 Darren Sweetnam

 

Glasgow Warriors v Southern Kings

George Horne and Adam Hastings make their first starts for the Warriors as the Southern Kings come to Glasgow for the first time.

Fresh from signing a new two-year contract this week, Nick Grigg starts outside of the half backs and is joined by Sam Johnson in midfield.

At full-back, Stuart Hogg retains his place and Lee Jones and Niko Matawalu start outside of him, the Fijian making his first start of the season.

Rob Harley captains the side and is joined in the back-row by Matt Smith and Matt Fagerson.

The number 8’s older brother Zander starts in the front-row alongside Alex Allan and Pat MacArthur, while Scott Cummings and Jonny Gray pack down behind them.

On the bench BT Sport Scottish Rugby Academy player Stafford McDowall could make his Warriors debut and Lelia Masaga is also in line to play his first game at Scotstoun having recovered from a calf injury.

Ryan Grant is involved for the first time since returning to the club, while Greg Peterson and Lewis Wynne also feature for the first time this season.

Meanwhile, it has been confirmed that Adam Ashe will undergo surgery on an ankle injury sustained in last week’s game against Leinster and is expected to be out of action for 10-12 weeks.

Glasgow Warriors Head Coach Dave Rennie said: “The previous couple of weeks in Europe have been good for us. It has highlighted the shifts we need to make in our game and the importance of accuracy and the patience to build pressure. We’ve been working hard on that part of the game.

“The Kings provide a similar challenge, an imposing set piece and an ability to hurt you deep in your territory. We see this game as a chance for redemption and have prepared well. There is a fresh look about our side which is exciting.”

Meanwhile, there were call-ups for recent signings Martin du Toit and Mzamo Majola when Southern Kings coach Deon Davids named his squad.

Flyhalf Du Toit is included in the run-on XV, while Majola takes his place on the bench as replacement prop forward.

Other changes made to the team that did duty for the Kings in their last fixture against Benetton sees wing Yaw Penxe return at the expense of Sibusiso Sithole who has unfortunately sustained a long-term knee injury.

Kings fans will breathe a huge sigh of relief upon the news that star fullback Masixole Banda has fully recovered from the knock he sustained in the match against Benetton and retains his status as an ever-present in the Kings side this campaign.

Other changes to the backline see Berton Klaasen and Luzuko Vulindlu re-united as centre pairing with Jacques Nel dropping to the bench and fit-again Rudi Van Rooyen taking over at scrumhalf from Godlen Masimla. Rowan Gouws has been drafted into the squad as replacement scrumhalf.

Changes made by Davids to the pack include Rossouw de Klerk returning as tighthead prop in place of Martin Dreyer, whilst Ruaan Lerm is also restored to the starting XV. He comes in at No 8 in place of Dries Van Schalkwyk who is unavailable for selection due to personal reasons.

Both coach Davids and captain Michael Willemse were in agreement that the few weeks break the Kings have enjoyed since their last fixture came at a good time for the franchise and allowed them time to work on areas that had not been possible before due to their lack of pre-season preparation.

Davids said he expected a high-tempo game from the Warriors and that they were a team that liked to play off quick turnovers and against unstructured defence.

“We will need to be very organised on defence against them and try to make sure that we play the game in the right areas. Then we need to be more ruthless in using our opportunities when we get quality ball. These are the things we’ve been working on at training,” he said.

Saturday’s match at Scotstoun Stadium will be played on an artificial surface and despite the Kings not having had too much experience in this regard Davids did not think it would prove to be too much of a factor.

“We trained on artificial surfaces in both Wales and Ireland recently and there really isn’t that much of a difference. It only gets tricky if conditions are extremely wet but on the plus side it can make the set pieces easier and also assists in building continuity on attack,” he said.

The teams:

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Stuart Hogg, 14 Lee Jones, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Niko Matawalu, 10 Adam Hastings, 9 George Horne, 8 Matt Fagerson, 7 Matt Smith, 6 Robert Harley, 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Scott Cummings, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Pat MacArthur, 1 Alex Allan
Replacements: 16 George Turner, 17 Ryan Grant, 18 Adam Nicol, 19 Greg Peterson, 20 Lewis Wynne, 21 Ruaridh Jackson, 22 Stafford McDowall, 23 Lelia Masaga

Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Alshaun Bock, 10 Martin Du Toit, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Ruaan Lerm, 7 Jurie van Vuuren, 6 Andisa Ntsila, 5 Bobby de Wee, 4 Stephan Greeff, 3 Rossouw De Klerk, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Tango Balekile, 17 Mzamo Majola, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Lubabalo Mtyanda, 20 Khaya Majola, 21 Rowan Gouws, 22 Oliver Zono, 23 Jacques Nel

Ospreys v Dragons

The Ospreys field Sam Davies at full-back with former Dragon Dan Evans on the wing while Brynmawr’s Sam Cross, a shock selection in the Wales squad this week, makes his PRO14 debut at openside flanker.

Tandy said ahead of the derby clash:

“This is another derby match, another big game, something for supporters and players to get excited about again. The Dragons have got a real energy about them this season with some good young players starting to make an impression so they’ll come here full of belief that they can get a result.

“In the last three games we’ve gone toe-to-toe with the PRO14 champions, the French champions and the European champions and shown that we can compete at that level, really making a positive impression and starting to build some momentum.

“The challenge for us all now is to build on the good form we’ve shown over the last three weekends and make sure that our hard work and effort is reflected on the scoreboard on Friday and beyond that in the coming weeks.

“It promises to be a cracking derby match, with two teams full of positive intent and interesting match-ups across the pitch. We have to kick-start our PRO14 campaign. There’s plenty of work to be done to ensure we are where we want to be in the conference table, and that work started as soon as the final whistle went against Saracens.

“The supporters who were there on Saturday did a fantastic job of lifting the boys in some difficult circumstances, everyone pulling together in adversity. We need that collective spirit on and off the field moving forward, with the supporters playing their part.”

Dragons Head Coach Bernard Jackman has made six personnel and two positional changes to the side that secured a bonus point victory over Enisei-STM in the European Challenge Cup last weekend.

Two changes in the back three see wing Jared Rosser move to the left wing as Ashton Hewitt returns to the starting XV; Welsh International Hallam Amos retains his position as fullback. There is a change in the centre partnership as Jack Dixon joins Tyler Morgan who makes his 50th start for the Dragons. The half-backs see the return of Gavin Henson at fly-half and scrum-half Sarel Pretorius retains his position.

Experienced prop Brok Harris returns to the front row to join hooker Elliot Dee and tight-head prop Leon Brown, who yesterday signed a long-term deal with the region, as the second row remains unchanged. Ollie Griffiths will miss the Welsh derby as he recovers from the broken jaw he sustained last weekend, with fellow flanker James Thomas returning and James Benjamin moving from number 8 to make way for Lewis Evans who returns from injury to make his first Dragons appearance of the season.

The bench has three changes made to it as Aaron Wainwright, Angus O’Brien and Pat Howard join Gerard Ellis, Thomas Davies, Lloyd Fairbrother, Rynard Landman and Charlie Davies.

Dragons Head Coach Bernard Jackman commented: “We have that away win under our belt in Europe so now we are looking for the away win in the Guinness PRO14.

“We know that these derby matches are unbelievably tough as it’s another step up.

“I think that the Ospreys have hit form and we have massive respect for them. I thought that the performance against Saracens was a step up again from what they did the week before. We understand that this match is going to be a huge challenge for us, as they are one of the best squads in Europe so we are going to have to show massive improvement from what we have done in the last few weeks to be competitive, but that’s the challenge.”

The teams:

Ospreys: 15 Sam Davies, 14 Keelan Giles, 13 Ashley Beck, 12 Owen Watkin, 11 Dan Evans, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tom Habberfield, 8 James King, 7 Sam Cross, 6 Olly Cracknell, 5 Alun Wyn Jones (c), 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Dmitri Arhip, 2 Sam Parry, 1 Nicky Smith
Replacements: 16 Scott Baldwin, 17 Paul James, 18 Ma’afu Fia, 19 Adam Beard, 20 Rob McCusker, 21 Brendon Leonard, 22 James Hook, 23 Cory Allen

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 Lewis Evans, 7 James Benjamin, 6 James Thomas, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Joe Davies, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Gerard Ellis, 17 Thomas Davies, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Rynard Landman, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Charlie Davies, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Pat Howard

Thanks to 

Davids picked 25-strong squad for Warriors

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Southern Kings Head Coach Deon Davids announced his 25-strong squad to make the trip to Europe this week for their GUINESSPRO14 clash with the so-far unbeaten Glasgow Warriors.

A notable absentee amongst the travellers is wing Sibusiso Sithole who is likely to be out for a lengthy spell following surgery to a serious knee injury that he sustained in the Kings last fixture against Benetton. Also missing from the backline that did duty against Benetton is flyhalf Pieter-Steyn De Wet whilst changes amongst the pack see prop Entienne Swanepoel and loose forward Dries van Schalkwyk drop out. The latter is unavailable due to personal reasons.

In place of these Davids has called up new frontrow signing Mzamo Majola while there is also a recall for hooker Stephan Coetzee. Loose forward Ruaan Lerm gets the nod again, as does scrumhalf Rowan Gouws. Highly-rated wing Yaw Penxe also makes a welcome return to the squad whilst place is also found for new flyhalf Martin Du Toit – recently signed from South Western District Eagles.

First-choice pivot Kurt Coleman has not yet recovered from injury so does not make the trip.

Southern Kings captain Michael Willemse said that he and the team appreciated the few weeks break they’ve been afforded since the match against Benetton. “We have not only been able to get over a few knocks and niggles but also had a chance to focus on a few things that our lack of pre-season preparation had not made possible. After 6 weeks of really hard rugby I think the break came as a blessing for us,” he said.

Coach David’s acknowledged that a stern test awaited his team in Glasgow. “The Warriors play a high-tempo game and like taking on an unstructured defence so we need to make sure we are well- organised. It is also important for us to play the game in the right areas and to take our opportunities when we have quality ball. That is something we have spent a lot of time on during the past few weeks,” he added.

The match against Glasgow Warriors will be played on an artificial surface but Davids did not feel this would influence proceedings too much. “We trained on artificial surfaces in Wales and Ireland and it really was not that different. It helps improve the setpieces and to build continuity I think but can get rather slippery when it rains. It will be the same for both sides,” he said

The Kings flew out from Port Elizabeth earlier today (Tuesday) and Davids will announce his match day 23 on Thursday, 26 October.

SQUAD LIST

Schalk Ferreira
Mzamo Majola
Michael Willemse
Tango Balekile
Stephan Coetzee
Rossouw De Klerk
Martin Dreyer
Stephan Greeff
Lubabalo Mtyanda
Andisa Ntsila
Jurie Van Vuuren
Ruaan Lerm
Bobby De Wee
Rowan Gouws
Rudi Van Rooyen
Godlen Masimla
Alshaun Bock
Berton Klaasen
Luzuko Vulindlu
Yaw Penxe
Masixole Banda
Jacques Nel
Oliver Zono
Khaya Majola
Martin Du Toit

 

Kings sign two new players

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With the rigours of the first six rounds of GUINNESSPRO14 championship rugby action now behind them, the Southern Kings enjoyed a welcome break from the competition last week before their next assignment against high-flying Glasgow Warriors on Saturday, 28 October.

Invaluable to the players, as it afforded them a few extra days to recover from the inevitable bumps and bruises and niggles that they picked up during the course of the game, the break also presented the coaching staff with an opportunity to take stock of franchise performances to date and to start making changes where necessary.

An obvious weakness which stood out so far this season for the Kings is a lack of depth in certain positions and it was thus with great excitement that Head Coach Deon Davids announced to the media that the Kings had secured the services of Sharks prop forward Mzamo Majola and South Western Districts flyhalf Martin Du Toit on loan until the end of the 2017/2018 GUINNESSPRO14 championship.

Majola is rated as one of the rising frontrow stars of South African rugby and has already been capped by the Springboks at under-20 level. His arrival brings welcome depth to the position for Coach Davids who has been forced to field veteran hardman Schalk Ferreira in the number 1 jersey in every match so far this season.

The signing of Du Toit, who can also play at inside-centre, ensures the Kings have another option at flyhalf where they have missed the playmaking ability of the injured Kurt Coleman over the past few weeks. Coleman’s anticipated return to action within the next few weeks could then present Coach Davids with a rare selection dilemma at flyhalf should Pieter-Steyn De Wet, Oliver Zono and Martin Du Toit all be fit and ready to play.

“We welcome Mzamo and Martin to the squad.  They are both good players whom we have kept our eyes on for a while and there is no doubt they will add depth and strengthen our squad. Don’t be at all surprised if another name or two follows in their footsteps shortly,” the coached added cryptically.

Warriors keep unbeaten record intact with win against Cheetahs

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It was an exciting first half of rugby in Bloemfontein with the Cheetahs and Warriors running the ball from all corners.

At the end the Warriors were able to get a bonus point win of 29-26 against the Cheetahs on Friday night

It was the Warriors that put points on the board first with a penalty as they struggled in their set pieces against a Cheetahs who was certainly up for this one.

The Cheetahs scored first with Petersen going over in the corner and taken the lead 7-3 against the run of play in a way.

The Warriors had most of the possession but opted to go for lineouts rather than taken points and with the Cheetahs defence up for it in the first half they could not get pass them.

The Cheetahs got a penalty over to stretch the lead to 10-3 before the Warriors put multiple phases together and got their first try to level scores at 10-all.

Just before halftime, Specman was at the end of a kick forward to score and gave the Cheetahs the lead at the break 17-10.

The second half was as exciting as the first with both team throwing everything at it but it was the Cheetahs that dominated the scrums and lineouts.

The Warriors struggled to get going and had to work on counter attacks and scraps from the Cheetahs but the quality of this team showed at the end.

They levelled the scores early in the second half which gave us the signs that it will be a close one. With the scores at 17 all the Cheetahs did force a few penalties to get back in the lead with 23-17.

The turnaround came with the Cheetahs on attack in the Warriors twenty-two giving away a intercept which gave the lead back to the Warriors. This was a 14-point turnaround which hurt the Cheetahs at the end.

With the scores at 24-23 and 5 minutes left the Cheetahs got the lead back with another penalty but the fans hearts were broken with a brilliant try from a lineout for the Warriors with two minutes left.

At the end the Warriors could hang on to their 29-26 lead and kept their unbeaten record this season.

Scorers:

Toyota Cheetahs

Tries – Petersen, Specman

Penalties – Stapelberg(5)

Cons – Stapelberg(2)

Glasgow Warriors

Tries – Rob Harley, Henry Pyrgos, Callum Gibbins(2)

Penalties – Russel(3)

Cons – Russel

Minimal changes for Kings to take on Benetton

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Southern Kings Head Coach Deon Davids has elected to make minimal changes to his team to face Italian side outfit Benetton Treviso in the GUINNESSPRO14 this weekend, from the one that went down to Dragons last Saturday.

The changes come in the backline at centre and at wing while the forward pack, which showed up well in the wet against the Dragons, is retained intact. Right wing Yaw Penxe, who has been an ever-present in the team so far this campaign, is given a rest and Sibusiso Sithole – who previously did duty at left wing – comes in for him to partner Alshaun Bock and Masixole Banda as the back three. A new centre pairing of Jacques Nel and Luzuko Vulindlu does duty with Berton Klaasen dropping to the bench. Other changes on the bench see fit-again scrumhalf Rudi van Rooyen come in for Ruan Gouws while the replacement hooker berth goes to Tango Balekile in place of Stephan Coetzee.

Speaking after the team announcement Coach Davids said that in making his selection he was striking a balance between rewarding form and making sure all players on tour were given an opportunity to show their worth. “The extremely wet conditions we experienced last weekend made things difficult for everyone but once we had adjusted to them I thought the team showed up well – particularly our forwards where Bobby De Wee led the Opta Performance stats in terms of tackles made and lineouts stolen. If we can put an 80 minute performance together against Benetton Treviso then I believe we have a good chance of coming out on top,” he said.

Davids added that he knew his team were in for a tough match regardless.

“There are no easy games in an international competition like GUINNESPRO14 but we are determined to do everything we can to make our fans proud,” he said.

This weekend’s match against Benetton Treviso kicks off at 20h00  SA time and the Southern Kings will once again be captained by hooker Michael Willemse.

TEAM LIST

 

15 Masixole Banda

14 Sibusiso Sithole

13 Jacques Nel

12 Luzuko Vulindlu

11 Alshaun Bock

10 Pieter–Steyn de Wet

9 Godlen Masimla

1 Schalk Ferreira

2 Michael Willemse (C)

3 Martin Dreyer

4 Stephan Greeff

5 Bobby de Wee

6 Andisa Ntsila

7 Jurie van Vuuren

8 Dries van Schalkwyk

 

Substitutes

16 Tango Balekile

17 Rossouw de Klerk

18 Entienne Swanepoel

19 Lubabalo Mtyanda

20 Khaya Majola

21 Rudi van Rooyen

22 Oliver Zono

23 Berton Klaasen

PRO14 Preview – Friday

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The PRO14 is heating up and atleast one of our South African teams, the Cheetahs, are starting to find their strive in the competition with three wins now at home. It has been much easier for the Cheetahs as they have been playing at home for three weeks and will this week again take on Glasgow in Bloemfontein on Friday.

The Kings on the other hand have struggled so far but that was always expected as coach Davids and his team had to start all over after the Super Rugby this year losing so many players that played for them in Super Rugby.

Here is a look a the current log positions

The weekend starts off with the live match on Super Sport between the Cheetahs and Warriors.

There has been some injury enforced changes this week for the Cheetahs  with Raymond Rhule ruled out and being replaced by sevens star Rosko Specman. The Cheetahs will want to keep the momentum at home as it is so important for any team to take the points at home.

Warriors coach Rennie have made a few changes from last weeks winning side with Gray and Fraser Brown returning to the starting XV having recovered from a wrist and an ankle injury respectively. Fraser Brown made his comeback from the bench last weekend.

Jamie Bhatti and Zander Fagerson both return to join Brown in the front row while Tim Swinson partners Gray in the second-row.

Captain Ryan Wilson once again starts on the blind-side and Adam Ashe and Callum Gibbins both come back into the team at number eight and openside respectively.

Ali Price and Finn Russell are the half backs. Outside of them, Sam Johnson wears 12 having secured a bonus point for the Warriors last weekend with a try deep in injury time.

Nick Grigg starts at outside centre. In the back-three Leonardo Sarto joins Tommy Seymour and Ruaridh Jackson.

The warriors have shown great form this season and that the reason for being on top of Group A log.

This will be a great win for the Cheetahs at home if they can upset the log leaders at this stage of the competition.

The teams:

Cheetahs: 15 Sergeal Petersen, 14 Rosko Specman, 13 Francois Venter (c), 12 William Small-Smith, 11 Makazole Mapimpi, 10 Ernst Stapelberg, 9 Tian Meyer, 8 Oupa Mohoje, 7 Henco Venter, 6 Paul Schoeman, 5 Reniel Hugo, 4 Justin Basson, 3 Tom Botha, 2 Torsten van Jaarsveld, 1 Charles Marais
Replacements: 16 Jacques du Toit, 17 Ox Nche, 18 Johan Coetzee, 19 Rynier Bernardo, 20 Junior Pokomela, 21 Shaun Venter, 22 Nico Lee, 23 Luther Obi

Glasgow Warriors: 15 Ruaridh Jackson, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Nick Grigg, 12 Sam Johnson, 11 Leonardo Sarto, 10 Finn Russell, 9 Ali Price, 8 Adam Ashe, 7 Callum Gibbins, 6 Ryan Wilson (c), 5 Jonny Gray, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Zander Fagerson, 2 Fraser Brown, 1 Jamie Bhatti
Replacements: 16 Geroge Turner, 17 Alex Allan, 18 D’Arcy Rae, 19 Brian Alainu’uese, 20 Rob Harley, 21 Henry Pyrgos, 22 Peter Horne, 23 Niko Matawalu

 

The Edinburgh team selection includes five changes to the starting XV which narrowly lost to Leinster at the RDS Arena last weekend. The only alteration to an otherwise unchanged back-three sees Blair Kinghorn return to his familiar position of full-back after featuring off the bench in last weekend’s game in Dublin.

In the midfield, James Johnstone continues at outside centre following his impressive outing last weekend. The Scotland Sevens star is partnered by the experienced Phil Burleigh. Jason Tovey continues at stand-off after scoring all 13 of Edinburgh’s points in last weekend’s defeat. At scrum-half, Sam Hidalgo-Clyne drops to the bench and is replaced by Nathan Fowles.

In the front-row, experienced tighthead WP Nel packs down alongside Stuart McInally and Darryl Marfo. Ben Toolis returns to first team action after being rested last weekend and will once again partner Grant Gilchrist in the boiler room. In the back-row, club captain Magnus Bradbury comes back in at blindside flanker after missing the trip to Dublin. The 22-year-old is joined by the abrasive duo of Jamie Ritchie and Cornell du Preez.

On his team selection, Richard Cockerill said: “We’ve chosen a side which we feel can compete against Zebre in every facet of the game. There are a number of guys who impressed last weekend against Leinster and we hope they can continue to help the side makes positive strides.”

Meanwhile, there is only one change in the starting line-up for Zebre for the Myreside encounter. Giovanbattista Venditti is back as a starter at number 11 for his second appearance of the season.

The teams:

Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Dougie Fife, 13 James Johnstone, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Tom Brown, 10 Jason Tovey, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Cornell du Preez, 7 Jamie Ritchie, 6 Magnus Bradbury (c), 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Darryl Marfo
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Allan Dell, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Anton Bresler, 20 Luke Crosbie, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Duncan Weir, 23 Robbie Fruean%u200B

Zebre: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Mattia Bellini, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello (c), 11 Giovanbattista Venditti, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Johan Meyer, 6 Giovanni Licata, 5 George Biagi, 4 David Sisi, 3 Dario Chistolini, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Luhandre Luus, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Leonard Krumow, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Ciaran Gaffney

Cardiff Blues have made seven changes to the side that lost to Munster last week, as they prepare to welcome Dragons to Cardiff Arms Park.

Returning scrum-half, Lloyd Williams, has been named captain for the clash, and he links-up with Jarrod Evans at half-back, who keeps his place following his 11-point haul last week.

Rey Lee-Lo, who was rested for the trip to Thomond Park, replaces the injured Jack Roberts at outside centre while Alex Cuthbert returns to the wing.

Kristian Dacey is the only change in the front row, but there is a complete overhaul at lock, with Seb Davies and Damian Welch returning to replace George Earle and James Down.

There’s just a single change in the back row, as Josh Navidi comes in at blindside in place of Josh Turnbull, with Olly Robinson and Nick Williams retained at the openside and number eight respectively.

The Blues will be looking to extend their four-game winning streak over the Dragons, and will aim to build momentum ahead of next week’s opening European Challenge Cup clash against Lyon.

Meanwhile, the Dragons have two wins under their belts at Rodney Parade and will be looking to take those winning ways on the road to defeat their closest rivals.

Despite 29 injuries to the Dragons senior and academy squads, boss Bernard Jackman has only made one personnel change and one positional change to last weekend’s winning team. Welsh International Hallam Amos, who crossed for two tries last weekend, moves into the full-back position from the wing. Ashton Hewitt remains in position and Jared Rosser, who makes his first start for the region, covers the opposite wing.

The centre partnership sees youngsters Tyler Morgan and Jack Dixon get the nod, with the half-backs also remaining unchanged with Gavin Henson and scrum-half Sarel Pretorius retaining their positions.

Last weekend’s man of the match Elliot Dee remains in the starting XV; he is joined in the front row by props Brok Harris and Leon Brown. Matthew Screech and skipper Cory Hill make up the second row whilst James Thomas, Ollie Griffiths and James Benjamin retain their places in the back row.

The replacements bench sees the inclusion of Liam Belcher, who is set to make his Dragons debut and his PRO14 debut, as well as the return of Owain Leonard who has been out injured. Luke Garrett, Lloyd Fairborther, Joe Davies, Aaron Wainwirght, Angus O’Brien and Will Talbot-Davies make up the rest of the replacements bench.

The teams:

Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhun Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Tom James, 10 Jarrod Evans, 9 Lloyd Williams (c), 8 Nick Williams, 7 Olly Robinson, 6 Josh Navidi, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Brad Thyer
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 James Down, 20 Josh Turnbull, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Steven Shingler, 23 Matthew Morgan

Dragons: 15 Hallam Amos, 14 Ashton Hewitt, 13 Tyler Morgan, 12 Jack Dixon, 11 Jared Rosser, 10 Gavin Henson, 9 Sarel Pretorius, 8 James Benjamin, 7 Ollie Griffiths, 6 James Thomas, 5 Cory Hill (c), 4 Matthew Screech, 3 Leon Brown, 2 Elliot Dee, 1 Brok Harris
Replacements: 16 Liam Belcher, 17 Luke Garrett, 18 Lloyd Fairbrother, 19 Joe Davies, 20 Aaron Wainwright, 21 Owain Leonard, 22 Angus O’Brien, 23 Will Talbot-Davies

Chris Henry returns to captain Ulster from the back row, where he will be joined by two robust ball carriers in Iain Henderson and Jean Deysel.

Kyle McCall, Rob Herring and Wiehahn Herbst come in to occupy the front row positions, with Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell named in the second row.

John Cooney and Christian Lealiifano are retained as the half backs and will steer an all-international backline.

Stuart McCloskey is back in midfield alongside Luke Marshall, with Jacob Stockdale and Tommy Bowe selected on the wings and Charles Piutau at fullback.

John Andrew, Andy Warwick and Rodney Ah You will provide front row cover, while Robbie Diack and Sean Reidy will provide Les Kiss with further forward options from the bench.

Paul Marshall, Pete Nelson and Louis Ludik are the backline replacements.

Meanwhile, Kieran Marmion is set to make his 100th Championship appearance for Connacht.

Head coach Kieran Keane includes captain John Muldoon and Ireland scrum-half Marmion in the starting XV along with Matt Healy as the winger has recovered from a groin injury.

Tiernan O’Halloran moves to full-back having scored two tries against Scarlets last time out with Cian Kelleher, also a try-scorer last week, on the right wing.

Tom Farrell and Bundee Aki form the centre partnership. Aki has played every single minute for Connacht so far this season and Farrell’s four offloads last week were more than any other PRO14 player in round five.

Marmion, who has made more passes than any other player so far this season (405), teams up with Jack Carty in the half-backs with the fly-half the PRO14’s fifth top scorer on 39 points.

Hooker Tom McCartney is flanked by Denis Buckley and Finlay Bealham in the front row as the second row partnership of Ultan Dillane and Quinn Roux remains intact.

Eoin McKeon, Jarrad Butler and Muldoon form the Connacht back-row.

The teams:

Ulster: 15 Charles Piutau, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Luke Marshall, 12 Stuart McCloskey, 11 Jacob Stockdale, 10 Christian Lealiifano, 9 John Cooney, 8 Jean Deysel, 7 Chris Henry (c), 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Kieran Treadwell, 4 Alan O’Connor, 3 Wiehahn Herbst, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Kyle McCall
Replacements: 16 John Andrew, 17 Andy Warwick, 18 Rodney Ah You, 19 Robbie Diack, 20 Sean Reidy, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Pete Nelson, 23 Louis Ludik

Connacht: 15 Tiernan O’Halloran, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Tom Farell, 11 Matt Healy, 10 Jack Carty, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c), 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Eoin McKeon, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Tom McCartney, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Dave Heffernan, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Conor Carey, 19 James Cannon, 20 Eoghan Masterson, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Steve Crosbie, 23 Eoin Griffin

 

Beirne swaps Scarlets for Munster

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Munster and the Irish Rugby Football Union have announced that Scarlets lock Tadhg Beirne will join the province at the start of the 2018/19 season on a two-year contract.

The 25-year-old will make the move from Scarlets where he has made 29 appearances to date after making the switch from Leinster at the start of the 2016/17 season.

The move to the Llanelli based club proved to be career defining as the Kildare native developed into one of the club’s leading forwards. He rounded off his breakthrough season with an outstanding performance in the Welsh side’s PRO12 title win in May.

A former Ireland U20 player, Beirne featured in all of Ireland’s games during the 2012 U20 Six Nations and Junior World Championship, lining up next to current Munster men JJ Hanrahan, Chris Farrell and Niall Scannell.
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Munster lose Taute for six months

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Munster was given a blow with the news that Jaco Taute will be out of the game for six  months as he need to undergo surgery on his knee ligaments.

Taute joined the Irish club on loan in 2016 but decided to stay and have played 31 times since then for his club.

He got injured in the 39-19 victory over Cardiff Blues this weekend and will missed the greatest part of the season.

This will be a major blow for Munster as they prepare for their PRO14 match against Leinster on Saturday.

Taute, who has made 31 appearances for the region since joining at the beginning of 2016, sustained the injury in the 39-19 PRO14 victory over Cardiff Blues on Saturday.

The 26-year-old’s injury is a major blow for Munster’s season hopes who take on arch rivals Leinster this coming Saturday.

Dragons to good for Kings

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Southern Kings are still looking for their maiden Guinness PRO14 win after they were overpowered by the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The hosts used the driving maul to devastating effect as they went over four times in a bruising performance.

Braces from Elliott Dee and Hallam Amos either side of half time secured the win for Bernard Jackman‘s side with Anidisa Ntsila going over for the visitors in their only try of the night.

The result will give the Dragons a welcome boost and a second victory as they look to climb the Conference B table.

Southern Kings opened the scoring after just three minutes through a Pieter-Steyn de Wet penalty but their slender lead would last less than two minutes as Hallam Amos went over the line.

Straight from Gavin Henson’s kick off, the Dragons drove forward as Jack Dixon and Tyler Morgan linked up well to send Amos over the line.

In treacherous conditions, the Dragons continued to dominate proceedings and after a Henson penalty, two tries in four minutes put the game beyond the South Africans.

The Kings are penalised for blocking Ashton Hewitt allowing the hosts to kick to the corner before setting up a driving maul as Dee crashed over.

And just minutes the later Sarel Pretorious was able to find Amos in space and the winger managed to barge his way over the line.

There was no let up for the Kings as the Dragons continued to assert their dominance and went over three minutes into the second half.

The Dragons continued to use the driving maul to their advantage and after a fine break from Carl Meyer, the maul powered its way towards the line and Dee went over again.

The Kings were keen to haul themselves back into the contest and it was their turn to use the driving maul as Ntsila drove his way over the whitewash.

But scores were few and far between for the South Africans, who have lost every match so far this season.

Dragons were unable improve their healthy lead but a comfortable victory for the hosts will be music to the ears of Bernard Jackman after their heavy defeat at the hands of Ulster last week.

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Leinster hold of Edinburgh

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Jamison Gibson-Park’s late try sealed a hard-earned victory for Leinster at home to Edinburgh, with the hosts keeping up the pressure on Scarlets at the top of Conference B.

Leo Cullen’s men shaded the first half 14-13, Jordi Murphy and Joey Carbery touching down either side of Jason Tovey’s intercept score.

And after 33 scoreless minutes in a nip-and-tuck second period, finally Leinster broke through with Gibson-Park crashing down for the decisive try.

Leinster were looking to bounce straight back from a setback against the Cheetahs last week in South Africa, but it was visitors Edinburgh who started brightly at the RDS.

Tovey was pulling the strings beautifully as Richard Cockerill’s men kept the ball in hand, James Johnstone made a lovely break, and eventually they settled for three points in front of the posts as Devin Toner was penalised for a high tackle.

And Tovey doubled his tally in ten tenth minute from the tee as Leinster were pinged for offside – with Johnstone, Phil Burleigh and Sam Hidalgo-Clyne showing great hands in the build-up.

But out of nowhere Leinster were ahead two minutes later. Tom Brown was penalised for taking out Dave Kearney in the air, and from the resulting lineout the Boys in Blue were unstoppable and Jordi Murphy rumbled over.

Jonathan Sexton, skippering the hosts, made no mistake with the conversion to make it 7-6 – but Leinster were not in front for long as a loose pass cost them seven points.

Tovey picked it inside his own half and sprinted 70 metres to score under the posts, outpacing the chasing Leinstermen.

The hosts almost hit back immediately moments later with Seán Cronin making a searing break to move his side into the Edinburgh 22, but after Sexton chipped over the top, Scott Fardy knocked on with the line at his mercy.

But Leinster were not done there and piled on the pressure, with Edinburgh first offside and then pinged for not rolling away, giving Sexton the chance to kick to the corner.

And as the Boys in Blue pounded away at the line, Carbery finally wriggled across the whitewash past the tackle of Glenn Bryce as the clock ticked into the red, and Sexton’s conversion made it 14-13 at the break.

Edinburgh were defending deep in their own half at the start of the second period, but two crucial turnovers kept Leinster at bay, with Hamish Watson getting over the ball brilliantly.

However, when Jamie Ritchie saw yellow for a late hit on Luke McGrath, Leinster almost made their extra man count immediately as a powerful lineout maul was just stopped short.

But Edinburgh escaped unscathed from Ritchie’s ten-minute sin-bin, and went on the offensive, seeing Dougie Fife’s 64th-minute try chalked off by the TMO for crossing.

Entering the last ten minutes this clash could have gone either way, but it was Leinster who struck the hammer blow as Glenn Bryce hit an errant clearance and Jamison Gibson-Park was the benefactor.

Ross Byrne hit a brilliant conversion to take the gap to eight points, and from there Leinster held on for a 21-13 triumph.

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Glasgow fight for win against Benetton

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Tommy Seymour’s first home appearance of the season ended in impressive fashion as his try paved the way for another Glasgow Warriors Guinness PRO14 victory, this time over Benetton Rugby.

The Scottish international winger crossed in the first half, joined on the scoreboard by Rob Harley before the first half was up.

Peter Horne – alongside his 12 points from the boot – also got in on the act with a try after the interval as the Warriors secured their fifth win from five this season.

The Italian side responded through Marco Lazzaroni just before the hour mark as well as Federico Ruzza, though their third Guinness PRO14 win of the season was not to be forthcoming.

It’s taken a while for Seymour to take his Scotstoun bow this year, but he took just 15 minutes to make up for lost time with a move straight off the training field.

Attacking off a line-out, Glasgow worked the ball out to their talismanic wing, bisecting the Benetton defence to crash under the posts for the game’s first score.

A second was to come soon after, this time from Harley, though he had plenty to thank the rest of his Scottish team for before adding the finishing touches.

Going through the phases, Glasgow ended up in the Italian 22 where Harley took charge, the flanker charging through to dot down and open up a 14-point lead.

The first of Marty Banks’ three first-half penalties got Benetton on the board, though Horne too was impressive with the boot to ensure his side led 17-9 come the half-time whistle.

The initial score of the second half looked to be key and it was the hosts who got it, with Horne transforming his form from the tee to get his side’s third try of the evening.

This one was completely of his own doing too, intricate and nimble on his feet to steps, spins and sway his way to the try line – adding the finishing touches with the conversion.

But Benetton – with two victories already to their names this season – were not to be done there as Lazzaroni crossed with 23 minutes still to play.

Sending a penalty to the corner, the Italians pushed over from the resulting line-out, with the replacement credited for their first score of the contest.

That inspired plenty of confidence in the visitors, setting up a grandstand finale thanks to Ruzza 12 minutes from time.

After a period of pressure, it was another score to come from a replacement, burrowing his way over the line to narrow the deficit to six.

Brandon Thomson’s penalty gave his Glasgow side some late breathing space with time ticking down.

And with seven minutes extra played with the ball still alive, there was still just enough time for Sam Johnson to add gloss to the proceedings – picking up the all-important bonus point in the process.

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