Pro 12 Round 2

 

Guinness_Pro12_

 

Weir does the business for Edinburgh

Duncan Weir was the chief architect with the boot as Edinburgh claimed their first win of the Guinness PRO12 season 20-9 against Scarlets at Murrayfield.

Weir scored ten points off the tee but also created the opening score for wing Michael Allen with a delightful kick-through to add to a further effort from Magnus Bradbury.

Edinburgh, who lost to Cardiff last weekend, had lost just one of their last four encounters with the Scarlets ahead of kick-off at Murrayfield, and that by a single point, in February 2016 but the home side produced a sloppy start.

WP Nel was penalised for going off his feet at the breakdown but Scarlets spurned the early opportunity to get their noses in front on three minutes as visiting No.10 Rhys Patchell missed his shot at goal.

Alan Solomons made five changes from their opening weekend Guinness PRO12 defeat, with Michael Allen starting on the wing in place of Rory Scholes, while Phil Burleigh returned to start at inside centre.

In the pack, John Hardie came in for Hamish Watson and Magnus Bradbury took the No.8 shirt, with the final change at lock, where Ben Toolis was promoted from the bench.

It didn’t take long for Scarlets to go ahead as Patchell fired over a penalty on 11 minutes to atone for his earlier miss and reward the early pressure from the Welsh club.

Edinburgh improved as the half went on – mastering the tough conditions more than their Welsh opponents – and slowly got a foothold in the game.

Weir was twice the lucky recipient of Scarlets indiscipline as he kicked two penalties to put Edinburgh ahead in the closely fought encounter.

The conditions dictated running rugby was becoming increasingly difficult for both sides and mistakes started to creep in.

The next to offend at the breakdown was Edinburgh and Patchell fired over a 29th minute penalty to bring Scarlets level at 6-6.

Weir was starting to have a real influence on the contest and it was his kick-through on the half hour that created the game’s opening score for Allen.

Scarlets full-back Liam Williams made a mistake as he misjudged the kick, allowing Allen to scamper over the try-line and touchdown – Weir than added the extras to put Edinburgh 13-6 ahead.

The visitors pressed the self destruct button in the final seconds of the half – first second row Jake Ball was needlessly sin-binned.

And then seconds later Williams produced an appalling kick that ricocheted off the legs of an Edinburgh player and into the hands of a grateful Bradbury who raced to the corner to score – again Weir added the extras to leave the score at 20-6.

Bradbury and Phil Burleigh both served time in the bin, with Patchell knocking over his third penalty of the evening on 53 minutes.

Scarlets were much-improved in the final 20 minutes but they were unable to turn their territory and possession into points as Edinburgh bravely hung on.

The visitors twice thought they had gone over in the final few minutes but Edinburgh defended stoutly to ensure they hung on for their first win of the season,

Scarlets, who had also lost on the opening weekend to Munster, had never previously started a Guinness PRO12 season with defeats in the first two rounds.

After a painful loss in Edinburgh, it’s now back to the drawing board for Scarlets – as they look to end a six-game losing streak in the competition.

Fish scores late as Blues battle past Munster

Dan Fish scored the winning try as Cardiff Blues battled past Munster 24-23 in a fascinating battle at Irish Independent Park to secure their second win of the season.

The full-back burst through to score with 12 minutes left just after Munster had seemingly gained control, and a strong defensive effort repelled the Irish side in the final minutes.

Tom James crossed twice for the Blues in an open first half, but Munster gradually edged back and took the lead through Dave Kilcoyne’s close-range try in the final quarter.

However, Fish won it for the visitors after a slick move, to maintain their 100% start to the season after an opening-day win against Edinburgh.

Cardiff head coach Danny Wilson opted to stock up on experience for the trip to Cork by recalling veteran prop Gethin Jenkins, along with fit-again winger Alex Cuthbert.

They shot out of the blocks and almost grabbed an early try through Cory Allen, but Darren Sweetnam’s last-ditch tackle forced the Welsh centre into touch on the left wing.

However, they could not be kept out for long as James evaded several tackles after stepping inside to score his 50th Blues try.

Munster, roared on by the home crowd, hit back immediately after an intelligent kick over the top from Ian Keatley dropped into a dangerous area and Sweetnam latched onto it before off-loading to Andrew Conway to score.

After a breathless start the intensity dropped with a tactical kicking game taking over, before Gareth Anscombe slotted over a penalty.

And the visitors stretched their lead even further before the break after centre Ray Lee-Lo made a powerful break with Munster’s defence stretched, before slipping a neat pass inside to James to easily run in for his second.

Munster introduced flanker CJ Stander after half time, and his impact was immediate as he helped win a penalty soon after getting involved.

The Blues countered that by bringing on Wales captain Sam Warburton for his first appearance of the season following injury.

But it was the Irish side who gained the upper hand as they raised their intensity and speed of passing, and they were rewarded when the forwards won a penalty which Keatley slotted over to reduce the deficit to four points.

Forward power worked again just after the hour mark as replacement Kilcoyne bundled over from close range after they ground Cardiff down with a relentless drive.

Anscombe had the chance to bring the Blues level minutes later with a long-range penalty but, even though he struck it sweetly, it fell agonisingly short.

But Wilson’s men kept plugging away and eventually got through as Lee-Lo and Lloyd Williams combined to create space, and Fish burst through to touch down.

Munster responded straight away as Keatley kicked another penalty to get the gap down to just one point with 10 minutes left, but the Blues’ defence was impenetrable from there as they closed the game out for an impressive win.

 

Inspired Seymour scores four Warrior tries

Tommy Seymour starred for Glasgow Warriors as he scored four tries in their thrilling 33-25 win over Leinster at Scotstoun Stadium.

The winger, who will have eyes on a British & Irish Lions place next summer, scored the game’s first try with a neat finish in the corner, before Leinster hit back through Rob Kearney.

Two more tries before the break gave Leo Cullen’s side a half-time lead, but Seymour took over in the second period and capitalised on two major Leinster errors to complete his hat-trick.

He then capped off a fine display with a late fourth to secure Glasgow their second win of the season after last week’s opening victory at Connacht.

Despite a handsome victory at the champions last weekend, Gregor Townsend made two changes to his side with Fraser Brown and Sila Puafisi drafted into the front row.

But it was their backs who excelled early on as some fast hands and direct running proved too much for Leinster, and Sam Johnson released Seymour down the left for an easy score with an excellent flat pass.

Leinster, who beat Benetton Treviso 20-8 in week one, were able to call on Ireland international duo Jordi Murphy and Dave Kearney.

But it was Rob Kearney who showed off his quality, as he evaded a couple of tackles to score.

Glasgow regained the lead through lock Tim Swinson who powered his way over after a relentless drive by the Warriors’ forwards.

However, just as they started to take charge Leonardo Sarto was sin-binned and Leinster made Glasgow pay by scoring twice before the break.

Josh van der Flier  burst through a gap after picking the ball up off the back of a ruck to score, before Joey Carbery landed a perfect cross-field kick into the arms of substitute Zane Kirchner for Leinster’s third on the stroke of half time.

Carbery’s deadly boot found its mark again after the break as he stretched Leinster’s lead to 10 with a penalty, but he gifted the hosts a route back into the game with a loose pass which was intercepted by Seymour, who ran in to score his second.

And the winger completed his hat-trick in style as he took advantage of another Leinster handling error by slipping through several tackles before running under the posts to give Glasgow the lead.

Carbery responded for Leinster with a penalty 17 minutes from time to bring the gap down to one point.

But Glasgow remained strong, as the forwards slowed the ball down and kept Leinster away from the try line, before pouncing at the other end as Seymour burst through a gap to score his fourth and wrap up the win.
Pienaar stars once more as Ulster edge past Treviso

Pienaar stars once more as Ulster edge past Treviso

Ruan Pienaar continued his impressive start to his final Guinness PRO12 season with Ulster as his 12 points proved crucial in a 22-11 win at Benetton Treviso.

Pienaar crossed in the second half for the visitors’ third score, following up tries from Luke Marshall and captain Robert Herring, with the South African also adding seven points from the boot.

Two Tommaso Allan penalties kept Treviso in contention at 6-10 by half-time, themselves touching down through No.8 Marco Barbani in the final stages at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo.

But neither team was able to secure a bonus point, with Treviso still yet to get off the mark after two games while Ulster missed out on maximum points from their first away trip of the Guinness PRO12 campaign.

And it was the province who started on the front foot, almost setting up camp in the Treviso 22 in a thoroughly-dominant opening.

The pressure told soon after too, with Marshall needing just six minutes to open the account as Ulster played through the phases with precision to set the outside centre on his way.

There was still plenty to do for the 25-year-old, crashing through the hosts’ back-line to go over, and after the TMO had confirmed its validity, Pienaar added the extras for a 7-0 lead.

It was a lead which Ulster only looked like adding to, with the Italian side finally reaching the right end of the pitch after the quarter-hour mark. The phase almost immediately reaped its rewards, but Allan could only fire wide his kick from distance as Les Kiss’ side maintained their advantage.

Striking heat at the Stadio Comunale di Monigo led to a first-half water break midway through the period, a stoppage which seemed to benefit Treviso, Marco Barbini’s quick-feet forcing an advantage from which Allan this time made no mistake.

But the four-point deficit was not to stay as such for much longer. Pienaar maintained his strong start to the season, following up his nine points from last week’s success over the Dragons to push the lead back to seven points just moments later.

Andrea Buondonno – who signed from fellow Italian outfit Mogliano over the summer – was next to try his luck, with his long-range effort falling short, while Allan kicked successfully from the tee for a second game to keep Ulster in close-watch, all after Pienaar had hit the post from halfway.

And with the visitors needing a strong start to the half, it came down to the captain to deliver. A well-worked driven maul gave Ulster some momentum, allowing Herring to capitalise for his third score in three games on 55 minutes.

While Pienaar missed the extras, it marked the first time in the game where more than one score was the difference, a decisive point of the fixture.

With Treviso pushing for parity, Pienaar exploited space for his second try in two games this season, thanks in no small part to superb play from the backline. That led to Stuart Olding and Jacob Stockdale taking charge of the game, combining to put their scrum-half over for the match’s third try.

After Pienaar converted his own touchdown to give Ulster a 22-6 advantage, the hosts were not to be finished just yet, despite Filo Paulo sitting in the sin-bin for a supposed late tackle.

But when hooker Herring himself went into the bin, it set up a nervy last 15 minutes for a side still chasing a fourth try and the bonus-point reward.

It was Treviso with the final say, however, with Barbini touching over in the closing moments, although Ian McKinley was unable to convert as the game finished with an 11-point difference.

Rhys Webb stars as Ospreys maintain 100% start with Connacht win

Three tries in the last ten minutes handed Ospreys a 32-11 victory at reigning Guinness PRO12 champions Connacht.

Rhys Webb grabbed himself two tries as Tyler Ardron and Jeffrey Hassler also got on the scoresheet, with Sam Davies kicking 12 points for the travelling region.

Conor McKeon got Connacht’s try and Jack Carty kicked points but Connacht’s title defence has yet to get off the ground, while Ospreys made it two wins from two this season.

Davies kicked the scoreboard into action in the fifth minute, before Ospreys conceded a penalty immediately from the restart, but Carty missed the kick.

The opening fifteen minutes were all Ospreys but Dan Evans lost possession when well-placed and the pressure was relieved.

Connacht then levelled through a Carty penalty on 19 minutes, but the Welsh side were ahead ten minutes later as Webb got the first of his try-double.

The scrum-half combined with number eight Ardron and crossed to put Ospreys five ahead, before Davies extended the lead with the conversion.

Connacht tried to hit back before the half-time whistle, but they failed to get over the line and the visitors went into the break seven points ahead.

But the home side did narrow the gap six minutes into the second half, through a Carty penalty, and they were given more hope when Ardron was sin-binned.

They took full advantage of Osprey’s reduction in men and flanker McKeon crossed to put them into a narrow lead, which Carty failed to extend when he missed the conversion.

The lead lasted all of four minutes though as Ospreys hit back through a Davies penalty, after Connacht were penalised at the scrum.

And the rest of the game was all Ospreys Adrdon capped a fine display with a try on 72 minutes, diving over after a period of considered build-up – Davies missing the conversion.

But the miss would not matter as three minutes later Webb crossed for his second after an interception from centre Ben John, and this time Davies had no trouble bisecting the posts.

The bonus point was confirmed with three minutes to play as Canadian winger Hassler crossed the whitewash, after fine work from full-back Dan Evans.

Davies added the conversion and Ospreys continued their fine start to the season, which sees them top the Guinness PRO12 table, alongside Glasgow Warriors as the only two sides with two bonus-point wins.

 

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