RaboDirect Round-Up

PRO12 Round 13 Matches

Simon Zebo on the way to scoring in Munster's 29-11 win over Treviso. (c) Ivan O'Riordan.

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Edinburgh 20-42 Ulster 

Friday 6th January @ Murrayfield

Ulster secured a bonus-point win for the second week in a row with a convincing victory over Edinburgh. Rory Best, Andrew Trimble, Dan Tuohy and Darren Cave scored the tries. Ian Humphreys kicked two penalties before going off injured in the 20th minute. Ruan Pienaar took over the kicking duties from there, knocking over 2 conversions and 4 penalties.

Edinburgh managed to reply with two tries of their own through Nick de Luca and Alun Walker. Scrumhalf Greig Laidlaw converted both tries and added two penalties. But Ulster were fully deserving of their win and Brian McLaughlin was understandably pleased with the performance. This win moves Ulster up to 6th in the table, only 4 points off Glasgow in 4th. Two five-pointers in a row give McLaughlin’s side great momentum ahead of their crucial Heineken Cup clash with Leicester Tigers in Ravenhill on Friday.

Here’s extended highlights from the Edinburgh vs. Ulster game:

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Aironi 20-6 Connacht

Saturday 7th January @ Stadio Zaffanella

A shocking performance from Connacht condemned them to their 13th consecutive defeat in all competitions. With the Newport Gwent Dragons winning against the Ospreys on Friday, Connacht have dropped to 11th in the table. Only three points separate them from bottom side Aironi now. While the majority of Connacht’s losses in this current sequence have been by narrow margins, or often undeserving, this defeat in Italy was fully deserved. The sheer amount of unforced errors and bad decisions the players made meant losing was the only possibility.

Samoan winger Sinoti Sinoti scored the only try of the game for the Italians while outhalf Luciano Orquera added five penalties. The only response Connacht could muster was a penalty apiece from Matthew Jarvis and his replacement Niall O’Connor. Connacht were clearly second best throughout and this long run of fixtures has left their squad severely depleted. There is little respite in the next two weeks though, with Heineken Cup fixtures against Toulouse and Harlequins to negotiate before there is finally an extended break with the start of the Six Nations.

You can watch the Connacht vs. Aironi match on the TG4 Player, but to be honest there’s definitely better things you could do with your time! Awful match…

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Cardiff 19-23 Leinster

Saturday 7th January @ Cardiff City Stadium

Leinster extended their lead at the top of the PRO12 to nine points with a hard-fought win in Cardiff. This match lived up to the expectations created by both squads naming strong starting fifteens. Unfortunately for Cardiff, Gavin Henson cried off before kick-off due to a calf strain. Still, there were more than enough good players on the pitch to make this a rare top-quality PRO12 game.

Leinster had a fantastic start as Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney crossed for tries inside the first ten minutes. Jonathan Sexton converted both scores to give Leinster a crucial 14-0 lead. Sexton added two penalties and Fergus McFadden kicked a late three-pointer of his own. For Cardiff, Leigh Halfpenny kicked three penalties as well as converting Gethin Jenkins’s try. Dan Parks added a drop-goal. Leinster are now undefeated in 14 games and will look to extend that run away to Glasgow in the Heineken Cup on Sunday.

Here’s the highlights from the Cardiff vs. Leinster game:

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Munster 29-11 Treviso

Saturday 7th January @ Thomond Park

Munster got back to winning ways with a bonus-point victory over Treviso on Saturday evening. While never scintillating, Munster did enough to secure the important extra point by scoring four tries. This win moves Munster back up to 3rd in the league and leaves them only a single point behind the Ospreys in 2nd. Munster can now look push on and get into that 2nd position in order to secure a home play-off.

The try scorers for Munster were Niall Ronan, Man of the Match James Coughlan, Keith Earls and Simon Zebo. Ronan O’Gara tacked on three conversions and a penalty. Manoa Vosawai scored a consolation try for Treviso while Kris Burton landed two penalties. Worryingly for Tony McGahan, Ronan managed to injury himself while touching down for his score. Ronan says he is hopeful of being fit in time for Saturday’s Heineken Cup clash with Castres. With Denis ruled out for up to four months and Tommy O’Donnell out for six weeks, McGahan will share Ronan’s hopes.

Here’s the highlights of the win over Treviso (no sound):

You can watch the full Munster vs. Treviso game on the RTE Player.

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Here’s how the PRO12 table looks after the weekend’s action:

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Photo courtesy:  Ivan O’Riordan.

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