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Debutants shine as champions Connacht slip up

Reigning Guinness PRO12 champions Connacht were dealt an early blow to their title defence as Tommy Seymour’s two tries helped Glasgow Warriors to a 41-5 success at the Sportsground.

In the first game of Gregor Townsend’s final season at the Warriors helm, the visitors started brightly as Seymour’s double forged a 13-5 half-time advantage, despite Niyi Adeolokun crossing for Connacht.

But the second half showed Connacht have plenty of work to do this season, with man-of-the-match Stuart Hogg, Tim Swinson, Sila Puafisi and Sean Lamont all adding further tries for a bonus-point success.

It was a day to forget for the Galway outfit against the 2014-15 Guinness PRO12 champions, with a lack of pre-season fixtures perhaps a stumbling block for a side that had defeated the Warriors 16-11 in last year’s semi-finals.

Williams delivers flawless ball-carrying performance

Elsewhere, Nick Williams revelled in a superb Cardiff Blues debut at No.8, delivering a masterclass at his new BT Sport Cardiff Arms Park home, capping off his display with a try in the 34-16 victory over Edinburgh.

The former Ulster man delivered from start to finish with ball in hand, while Steve Shingler starred with 15 points on Blues competitive debut, including crossing for the first score of the match.

Edinburgh fought back as Solomoni Junior Rasolea crashed over, but a penalty try gave the hosts a 17-13 half-time lead.

And fittingly it was down to Williams to secure the match, powering over after playing through the phases, with Tomos Williams taking advantage of a rampaging scrum late on to secure the bonus-point success.

Parry becomes unlikely record-breaker

There was also a bonus-point victory at the Liberty Stadium as the Ospreys racked up a half-century against Zebre – with the first hat-trick of the Guinness PRO12 season coming from the most unlikely of sources.

Hooker Sam Parry was the beneficiary of a marauding maul for the hosts, becoming the first forward to score three in a match for the region, on hand to touch down for an Ospreys side who raced into a 24-0 lead.

It was to become a theme of the evening in Swansea as Parry completed his trio just after half-time, while Ben John crossed twice in the 59-5 win.

Ashley Beck scored in his first start for 18 months, while Lloyd Ashley crossed for his first Ospreys try before Dafydd Howells added gloss with a first Guinness PRO12 try of his own.

Stern defence does the trick for Munstermen

Three-time champions Munster started their Guinness PRO12 campaign with a win over Scarlets, with a strong defensive display the key to their success.

Prop James Cronin and wing Ronan O’Mahony crossed, while Gareth Davies replied at the Parc y Scarlets, but it was the resolution of the visiting display which was the key factor, camped in their own half for large periods of the first half in their 17-10 victory.

Dream debuts continue

It was a good week for debutants all round as Rob Lyttle enjoyed a dream start for Ulster, who finished comfortable 29-8 winners over Newport Gwent Dragons – despite being behind in the match.

Pat Howard’s try gave the visitors the lead, but Lyttle – an early replacement for Craig Gilroy – went over in the first half, latching onto Ruan Pienaar’s kick, himself bidding to end his Ulster spell on a positive note with his departure to come at the end of the season.

Lyttle added a second, acrobatically finishing in the corner, while Jacob Stockdalde, Pienaar and Rob Herring secured a bonus-point win.

Finally, Joey Carbery scored twice on full debut for Leinster, who were far from their clinical best in a 20-8 victory over Benetton Treviso.

Previously only making a replacement appearance in March, but a start at fly-half for the 20-year-old proved inspired by Leo Cullen, dancing under the posts after just three minutes, then unleashing his pace to double his tally in the second half.

Guinness PRO12 Final 2017 Ticket Information: Fans can save up to 20% on selected tickets, and prices start at just €30 adults and €5 child, and be booked via www.ticketmaster.ie. For further information visit http://www.pro12rugby.com/final