RaboDirect Round-Up

Blues 21-14 Ulster

Friday 17th February @ Cardiff Arms Park

Ulster Ruck

Ulster failed to open up the Blues defence in the second half. (c) Simon Williams.

Despite leading at the break following a dominant first half, Ulster collected their 7th loss of the PRO12 season in Cardiff. A Robbie Diack try and two penalties from Ruan Pienaar gave Ulster an 11-6 half-time advantage. But second half tries from Dan Parks and Tom James plus a total of 11 points from Parks’ boot gave the home side a win that sees them jump above Ulster in the table. Brian McLaughlin will be disappointed with his side’s second-half effort.

That said, Ulster are still in contention for a play-off spot. Their losing bonus point leaves them 4 points off Glasgow Warriors in 4th. The Blues sit in 5th, 2 points ahead of Ulster, but crucially with a game in hand. That fixture will see them as favourites away to the Newport Gwent-Dragons. All Ulster can do is get back to winning ways, starting with a huge game on Friday when the Ospreys visit Ravenhill. That looks like a must-win if Ulster are to stay in the hunt.

Here’s Diack’s score from the Blues game. Decent turn of pace for his 3rd try in 4 games:

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Leinster 16-13 Scarlets

Friday 17th February @ The RDS

16

McFadden on his way to scoring Leinster's only try. (c) Ken Bohane.

Fergus McFadden was the hero for Leinster as he slotted a penalty with the last kick of the game to earn his side a win.  It looked like ending all square at the RDS until Nigel Owens pinged Scarlets’ replacement prop Phil John for stupidly playing the ball in a ruck. McFadden confidently slotted the kick from over 40 metres out. The inside centre scored all of Leinster’s points on the night, converting his own try as well as adding three penalties.

The Scarlets were impressive, particularly with their aggressive defence. They limited the amount of chances Leinster created and held a 10-3 half-time lead. Dan Newton scored a try and a penalty for the Welsh side, while Stephen Jones converted the try and added a penalty of his own. The wet conditions contributed to a less sparkling Leinster showing than we have become used to. However, Joe Schmidt will surely be pleased that his side still ground out the victory. Leinster remain 10 points clear of the Ospreys after this narrow win. Next up, Schmidt’s men face a trip to Firhill to take on the Warriors this Saturday.

Here’s the highlights of the Scarlets game:

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Treviso 14-35 Munster 

Saturday 18th February @ Stadio di Monigo

Simon Zebo clears copy

Zebo scored two tries as well as spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin. (c) Ivan O'Riordan.

A late Simon Zebo try ensured a crucial bonus point win for Munster despite a sluggish performance. The opening thirty minutes were extremely positive from Munster as they raced into a 24-0 lead thanks to tries from Danny Barnes, Zebo and Johne Murphy as well as the boot of ROG. But from that point, Munster relinquished their control of the game and allowed a poor Treviso team back in. The yellow cards to Mick O’Driscoll and Zebo didn’t help Munster. In the end though, Tony McGahan will be content with the five points.

Ronan O’Gara was flawless from the tee while Peter O’Mahony and Dave O’Callaghan showed their potential in the back-row. This win sees Munster up into 3rd, thanks in part to Connacht’s draw with Glasgow. The Ospreys in 2nd are just 4 points ahead, and Munster have a game in hand as well as a better points difference. Thomond Park is the venue for the visit of the Cardiff Blues on Friday as Munster continue to push for a home play-off.

If you missed the Munster vs. Treviso game, watch the whole thing here on the RTE Player!

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Connacht 13-13 Warriors

Saturday 18th February @ The Sportsground

Duffy

Connacht captain Gavin Duffy couldn't help his side to a win. (c) Andy Scrutton.

Niall O’Connor salvaged a draw for Connacht with a penalty at the death in Galway on Saturday evening. It’s impossible not to be repetitive about Connacht’s performances this season, but once again this was a match they could have won. Handling errors and silly penalties were Connacht’s downfall again. O’Connor’s late score did allow Eric Elwood’s side to end their 10-game losing run in the PRO12, but it could have been more than just 2 points.

Connacht’s only try of the game came from the prolific Tiernan O’Halloran, as he collected O’Connor’s cross-kick to score. O’Conner converted as well as notching two penalties. The Warriors’ try came from prop Jon Welsh, with Ruaridh Jackson kicking 5 points. Duncan Weir came off the bench to slot what looked like the match-winning penalty before a John Muldoon try-saving tackle prevented the Warriors from wrapping things up. O’Connor then took his late chance. Connacht drop back to 11th in the table after the Dragons beat Edinburgh. Elwood and his men welcome the Scottish side to Galway on Friday and will hope to emulate the Dragons’ feat.

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Here’s the latest PRO12 table:

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Photos courtesy:  Simon Williams, Ken Bohane, Ivan O’Riordan, Andy Scrutton.

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