Leinster start with a victory
Leinster got their PRO12 season off to a winning start but they missed out on a try bonus-point in their 20-8 victory over Treviso in Dublin.
Two Joey Carbery tries helped the Irish province ease their way past Treviso to secure four points on the opening day of the season.
The home side went ahead after three minutes, and remained in the driving seat from there on in.
Carbery’s double was added to by James Tracy late in the game, with Treviso’s only response coming from lock Marco Fuser.
Just three minutes in to the new season, the home supporters were rewarded with their side’s first try of the season from debutant Carbery, followed by Fergus McFadden slotting the conversion to make it 7-0.
After a quiet 25 minutes, Carbery was able to break free of the Treviso defence, before scoring his second of the night from more than 40 metres out.
McFadden’s touchline conversion drifted wide, but he atoned for his errors moments later with a fine penalty.
The visitors hit back just before the break as Fuser crossed the whitewash, making the most of a spell of sustained pressure from the Italians.
In the second half Tommaso Allan opened his account for the season with a simple penalty from the 22-metre line as the Italians looked for a way back in to the tie.
Tracy found the whitewash from the back of a driving maul to all but finish the tie off, giving the hosts a 12-point lead with just six minutes left on the clock.
Tries: Carbery 2, Tracy
Eight-try victory for Ospreys
Ospreys started the new season in impressive style on Friday as they cruised to a 59-5 PRO12 victory over Zebre at the Liberty Stadium.
Sam Parry became the first ever Ospreys forward to score a hat-trick, Ben John came off the bench to add two, with Lloyd Ashley, Ashley Beck and Dafydd Howells completing the rout.
With the bonus point secured before the break, Zebre’s only reply came through Tomasso D’Apice, but the Italians were prevented from creating any other chances.
With five minutes on the clock, Ospreys Sam Davies opened his account for the season with a penalty, before a well worked line out saw Parry score the hosts’ first try of the season, which was converted by Davies.
Ashley was next to add to the scoresheet, after showing a great turn of pace to beat his man and find the corner. Davies’ touchline conversion sailed through the uprights, taking the score to 17-0.
Ospreys continued to press before Beck found his way over the try line, as he spun his man and darted home from close range to the left of the posts, making the conversion a formality for Davies.
Zebre hit back just past the half hour mark, as D’Apice crashed over at the back of a driving maul, although Edoardo Padovani failed to find his range from the tee.
A second of the game for Parry saw Ospreys go in at the break having already secured a bonus point, as the hooker broke through the middle of a maul and reached for the line.
Parry repeated the feat shortly after the break, scoring an almost identical try to secure his hat-trick, before Davies added the extras with ease.
Shortly after entering the fray as a replacement, John made a clean break before crashing over the line for the Welsh side’s sixth try of the night, as Davies converted with ease to extend their lead to 40 points.
Zebre replacement Tommaso Boni was sent to the sin-bin with 14 minutes remaining, as John came close to scoring his second try of the night, but couldn’t quite collect the offload just a metre from the try line.
Ospreys finally made the most of their numerical advantage with a great break from Dan Evans, who was able to find Howells with an inventive cross-field kick to finish the move. Davies’ kick soared through the posts.
Eventually John did score his second, and Ospreys’ eighth of the night, after collecting Justin Tipuric’s offload to finish the scoring in emphatic fashion. Davies slotted his eighth conversion of the night, as the Italians fell to a 59-5 defeat.
Tries: Parry 3, Ashley, Beck, John 2, Howells
Cons: Davies 8
Pienaar scores in Ulster win
Ruan Pienaar picked up the man-of-the-match award and scored a try in Ulster’s 29-8 victory over the Dragons in their PRO12 clash.
It has been a traumatic week for Ulster fans with the news that star man Pienaar departs at the end of the season. But nothing lifts the mood like a substantial win and the Belfast side delivered one on Friday.
Rookie Rob Lyttle scored a brace and his efforts were supplemented by tries from Jacob Stockdale, Rob Herring and of course, that man Pienaar.
The Dragons actually scored first through Pat Howard and the Welsh visitors kept Ulster to a slim half-time lead.
The Irish province pulled away with a second half performance that was very clinical, albeit leaving them with plenty to work on. However, the hosts will certainly be happy with a bonus point win in their first game.
The Dragons bagged the first points courtesy of a five minute Nick Macleod penalty.
It was all the visitors early on and they got the first try on 11 minutes when Howard gathered a clever Macleod kick to touch down in the corner. The conversion was missed, but that didn’t detract from the Dragons’ early dominance.
Ulster looked okay when they got the ball, Charles Piutau showing some nice touches, but the home forwards struggled to win enough possession.
Ulster hit back well on 22 minutes, though. Pienaar showed the Ravenhill faithful what they’ll miss next season by making a cutting break before cleverly chipping ahead, and his stray ball was gathered by replacement Lyttle to touch down. Pienaar converted to make it 8-7 to the Dragons.
The home side had finally hit its stride and Stockdale got the second try four minutes later when he scored in the left hand corner, Pienaar missing the conversion this time.
It got a bit fractured after that and both sides struggled for any continuity. The hosts had a greater deal of control, however, and the firepower to make their dominance count. Half-time arrived with a slim Ulster lead then, but the Ravenhill men were slowly starting to find their rhythm.
It was the Irishmen who started the second half better and they scored again on 45 minutes when talisman Pienaar charged down Dragons’ full-back Carl Meyer’s clearance kick to get Ulster’s third try, missing his conversion.
The visitors tried valiantly to get some territory and made some good inroads through skipper Thomas Rhys Thomas, but the Ulster defence kept them pinned back in their own half.
Kingsley Jones’ men were holding their own up front, but struggled badly for creativity and cohesion behind the scrum. For their part, Ulster struggled to close out the game and seemed content to keep it tight rather than stretch the Dragons’ defence.
The door was unlocked eventually on 65 minutes, though, when Lyttle grabbed his second try to seal the bonus point. Pienaar again missed the conversion, but the game was over as a contest.
The hosts got over again on 71 minutes when a mighty rolling maul allowed replacement Herring to score. Ulster’s scrum-half converted this time to give his side a mammoth 29-8 lead. The Ulstermen weren’t threatened again as they closed it out comfortably to open their account with a good win.
Tries: Lyttle 2, Stockdale, Pienaar, Herring
Cons: Pienaar 2
Munster get the better of Scarlets
Munster registered a hard-fough 23-13 victory over the Scarlets in their PRO12 opener at Parc y Scarlets on Saturday.
The first half saw three tries, with James Cronin and Ronan O’Mahon crossing for Munster and Gareth Davies scoring for the Scarlets.
In the second half, two Tyler Bleyendaal penalties and three points from Rhys Patchell were the only additions to the scoreboard.
Despite a period of early dominance from Scarlets, it was Munster who grabbed the first score of the game. Munster loosehead prop James Cronin powered over and placed the ball at the foot of the posts, with Bleyendaal converting.
Just before the half hour mark, Scarlets opened their account with a penalty from Rhys Patchell. The Scarlets defence was exposed again with Ronan O’Mahony able to sprint under the posts from 40 metres for Munster second try.
Scarlets eventually got the try their possession deserved couresty of a wonderful solo effort through talismanic scrum half Gareth Davies, with Patchell adding the extras.
A Bleyendaal penalty just before half time restored Munster’s seven point lead going into the break. Patchell closed the gap to four once again just after the break with his second penalty of the evening.
The battle of the kickers continued, with Bleyendaal kicking two further penalties to extend Munsters lead to ten points. To the frustration of the Scarlets players, they were unable to overcome the deficit.
A very good away win for Munster will give them confidence ahead of their next game against Cardiff Blues. For Scarlets, they travel to Murrayfield to face Edinburgh.
Tries: G Davies
Pens: Patchell 2
Tries: Cronin, O’Mahony
Cons: Bleyendaal 2
Pens: Bleyendaal 2, Keatley
Warriors down Connacht
PRO12 champions Connact made a disastrous start to the season when they suffered a 41-5 loss to Glasgow Warriors in Galway on Saturday.
The first-half got off to a tight start with two of the Pro 12’s best sides each enjoying good spells.
However, Tommy Seymour’s two tries cancelled out Niyi Adeolokun’s effort to establish an eight-point lead at the break. The hosts were relentless in their pursuit of their 2015-16 crown, however, this intensity was absent from their second-half performance as they conceded four tries from Stuart Hogg, Tim Swinson, Sila Puafisi and Sean Lamont.
The score could have been even higher were it not for the notorious Sportsground wind affecting the Glasgow kickers. The resounding 5-41 score line putting down a convincing marker for a Warriors’ title challenge.
2015 champions Glasgow got off to perfect start in the match when, in the 10th minute, some fantastic build-up play found its way to Seymour on the wing. The Scotland international found a burst of pace before touching down in the corner.
Henry Pyrgos missed a difficult conversion attempt leaving the score set at 5-0. However, the Warriors’ scrum-half found his kicking boots with a successful effort at the posts in the 24th minute which extended the visitors’ lead to eight points.
Ryan Wilson was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle in the 28th minute reducing Glasgow to 10 men. This yellow proved to be pivotal as Connacht preceded to pile on the pressure on the visitors, this dominance paid dividends on 33 minutes as Eoin Griffin found Adeolokun on the overlap. The winger beat the defender before crossing in the corner to cut the score to 5-8 after Jack Carty’s conversion attempt was carried wide by the swirling wind.
However, the hosts’ resurgence was stopped in its tracks three minutes later when Seymour scored his second try of the match, evading the attentions of the Connacht defence for another try out wide. Pyrgos’s attempt to add the extras was once more thwarted by the wind to make the half-time score 5-13.
The Warriors started the second half in a similar manner, winning a scrum five metres out before working the ball across to Hogg. The 24-year-old showed great power in shrugging off the hosts’ defensive efforts before touching down after just 90 seconds of the second period had been played. Pyrgos converted to make the score 5-20 to the Scottish side.
Glasgow secured a bonus point after Swinson touched down for the visitors before Pyrgos added the extras to make the score 5-27, placing his side in a commanding position.
Replacement prop Sila Puafisi added a fifth score for the visitors after 58 minutes, burrowing under the tacklers to continue his side’s rout of the defending champions.
In the 70th minute, the rout was completed as Sean Lamont marked his 100th Glasgow appearance with a sniping try from close range. Rory Clegg’s conversion attempt was good and took the score to 5-41 and this was how it finished, a comprehensive bonus point victory.
For Glasgow Warriors:
Tries: Seymour 2, Hogg, Swinson, Puafisi, Lamont
Cons: Pyrgos 3, Clegg
Cardiff Blues too strong for Edinburgh
Cardiff Blues got their PRO12 campaign off to a winning start when they beat Edinburgh 34-16 at Cardiff Arms Park on Saturday.
The first half got off to a flyer with Cardiff going into the break with a 17-13 lead. A try from Steven Shingler and a penalty try edging the hosts in front.
Solomoni Rasolea scored for Edinburgh in what was a spirited response. However, momentum had swung in the hosts’ favour with the sin-binning of Jamie Ritchie just before the break and they stretched their lead after the interval with Nick Williams and Tomos Williams both scoring.
Kiwi Nick Williams produced a standout performance on his Blues debut both scoring and creating tries as his side put the Edinburgh defence to the sword.
The final score of 27-16 was representative of the difference in performances on the day. Edinburgh opened the scoring after three minutes, the boot of Duncan Weir slotting a penalty between the posts for an early lead.
Four minutes later, the hosts scored the first try of the match, scrum-half Shingler produced a wonderful show and go before steeling in to score.
Shingler converted his own score to edge the Blues into a four-point lead. Edinburgh responded in the 15th minute with a try of their own, Rasolea running a great line to cruise in for a debut try. Weir was successful in his conversion attempt to make the score 7-13.
After 19 minutes the Scotland fly-half was on target once more, this time he produced a colossal penalty kick from over 50 metres out to notch another three points for the visitors. In the 27th minute Shingler kicked a penalty from close range to cut the deficit to three points.
Five minutes later, a dangerous maul from the hosts was collapsed five metres out. Referee John Lacey deemed the offence worthy of the awarding of a penalty try to the Blues.
Irishman Lacey also awarded a yellow card to Ritchie meaning that Edinburgh would go into half-time down a man and with a 17-13 deficit to their hosts.
Shingler took his personal tally to 15 points with a long-range penalty for Blues after 44 minutes. Edinburgh kept themselves in touch of their hosts with a penalty to take the score to 20-16.
After 62 minutes, Nick Williams extended Cardiff’s lead with a try his fantastic performance on debut had merited. Gareth Anscombe successfully converted to extend the Blues’ advantage to nine points.
The hosts desperately pursued a fourth try and were rewarded for their efforts in the 72nd minute as Nick Williams played in Tomos Williams off the back of a scrum to cross the whitewash, taking the score to 34-16 and this was how it finished.
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Shingler, Penalty try, N Williams, T Williams
Cons: Shingler 2, Anscombe 2
Pens: Shingler 2
Pens: Weir 3
Yellow Card: Ritchie