For the second weekend running all four Irish provinces recorded Guinness Pro14 wins. First up on Friday night both Leinster and Ulster were in action at home. On Saturday Connacht and Munster recorded wins on their travels in Wales. The Irish provinces now occupy the top two spots in both Conferences. In Conference A Leinster are top on 24 points, ahead of Ulster in second on 19. While in Conference B Munster lead on 20 points, with Connacht in second on 19 points. Next week see the season’s first round of Interpro’s as Connacht host Leinster on Friday night while Munster welcome Ulster to Thomond at tea-time on Saturday. Round 5 match reviews and highlights below.
Leinster 50 Dragons 15
A Michael Bent try off a driving maul in the 9th minute got the scoring underway. It was to be the first of eight tries for Leo Cullen’s men. Dave Kearney added a second after 22 minutes and Harry Byrne added the extras. A Dragon’s try from Rhodri Williams and a Sam Davies penalty reduced the arrears to four points as the half-hour mark approached.
Tries from Harry Byrne and Ronan Kelleher either side of half-time gave the home side a fourth try and secured a bonus point. A fifth try from Dave Kearney on 47 minutes saw Leinster open up a 21 point lead before the fifty-minute mark. A brace from James Lowe either side of a Hugh O’Sullivan try further increased Leinster lead before a last-minute consolation try from Owen Jenkins added some respectability for Dean Ryan’s men.
Ulster 22 Zebre 7
Ulster recovered from a poor start in this one to come from behind and continue their winning run. The victory, their fourth in five games, sees them move up into second place in Conference A. Dan McFarland’s side were already 0-7 behind to an early Mattia Bellini try, when Will Addison was forced off with an arm injury.
However, a David Shanahan try which was converted by Billy Johnston and a Johnston penalty had saw the home side take a 10-7 lead into the interval. Shanahan’s try came after Marcell Coetzee had shown his strength to fend off a Zebre tackler and offload to the on-rushing Luke Marshall. The centre then took a neat line inside the Italian cover and fed scrum-half Shanahan to score.
Ulster’s lead was increased on 51 minutes when they were awarded a penalty try. Former Munster player Ian Nagle was deemed to have pull-down an Ulster maul as it rumbled towards the Zebre line. Nagle also received a yellow from match referee Sam Grove-White for the offence. Ulster scored their third try on 71 minutes when Billy Johnston made the most of a penalty advantage to send a crossfield kick to the awaiting Robert Lyttle. The Northerner’s had an extra man for the final ten minutes after Giovanni Licata was sent to the bin. However, Zebre stood firm and denied the home side a fourth try.
Ospreys 10 Connacht 20
Connacht recorded their fourth straight win with a ten-point victory over Ospreys in a rain-swept Liberty Stadium in Swansea on Saturday evening.
Luke Price struck first, with a penalty, for the home side on 3 minutes. However, their lead was shortlived as Niyi Adeolokun crossed for a superb try two minutes later. The Connacht back division showed quick hands to get the ball wide to the winger. Adeolokun then showed his searing pace, as he sprinted past two Osprey’s defenders, before putting in a grubber past the covering Luke Price. Adeolokun did superbly well to touchdown his own kick in torrential conditions.
A Conor Fitzgerald penalty on 24 minutes added Connacht’s lead. It could have been even more as a line-break by from Tom Farrell inside his own half saw Darragh Leader eventually stopped short just a yard shy of the line. A second Connacht try did arrive shortly later when the impressive Peter Robb burst over under the posts after being fed by Paul Boyle off the back of a Connacht scrum. The scrum had been awarded by referee Marius Mitrea after Dan Lydiate had clinically slowed down the ball. The back-rower was issued a yellow card and given a ten-minute break. Connacht took a 3-17 lead into the interval.
As the conditions deteriorated after the break the home side saw more of the ball. Connacht defended manfully to keep the Ospreys at bay. The stats after the game showed that Andy Friend’s side had made 127 out of their 128 tackles during the game. The sparse Swansea crowd finally were given something the cheer when hooker Sam Parry crossed for a try in the corner after a strong maul from the home side. Conor Fitzgerald’s penalty on the hour mark was to be the games final score.
Cardiff 23 Munster 33
A strong second-half display from Johann van Graan’s men saw them depart the Cardiff Arms Park with a bonus-point win.
The sides were level at the break 13 apiece. There were two penalties each from Jarrod Evans and JJ Hanrahan during the first period and Chris Cloete’s pick and drive try for the visitors was matched by a similar effort from Cardiff’s young loosehead Corey Domachowski.
After the break Munster were more clinical in possession. The regained the lead on 49 minutes. Sam Arnold dragged down just short of the line but got his hands free to offload to the onrushing Alby Mathewson. The scum-half was involved in Munster”s third try ten minutes later when he fed a short pass to Clavin Nash who had taken a good line to race over untouched.
Mathewson was at the heart of the bonus point fourth try too. JJ Hanrahan made the initial break from inside Munster’s own 22′. He broke the Cardiff cover and cleverly stepped inside Reynold Lee-lo before feeding Mathewson. The scrum-half carried the ball up to the Cardiff 22′ before he fed Dan Goggin out wide. The centre returned the ball to Mathewson just short of the line as Matthew Morgan made a desperate covering tackle. JJ Hanrahan extended Munster’s lead to 16-33 with his third penalty of the game. The home side had the final say when veteran Nick Williams crashed over for the games sixth and final try.