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Guinness PRO12 weekend wrap: Ospreys top as Munster roar in Europe

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor

9 Jan 2017

Ashley Beck’s bonus-point score ensured that Ospreys head into the European break three points clear at the Guinness PRO12 summit as Leinster and Glasgow Warriors shone at home, with second-place Munster emphatic in Europe at Racing 92.

Here’s all you need to know about this weekend’s Guinness PRO12 action.

  • Munster record points scorer and Racing 92 coach Ronan O’Gara was stunned by a superb performance from Rassie Erasmus’ side in their rearranged European Rugby Champions Cup fixture.
  • Erasmus’ side, who have lost once since October, saw Simon Zebo, CJ Stander, Andrew Conway cross for a 25-0 half-time lead, Niall Scannell crossing after the break to wrap up a 32-7 win that puts them top of Pool 1.
  • Johnny Sexton made a triumphant return for Leinster on Friday night, kicking six conversions in a ten-try 70-6 win against Zebre at the RDS that moved them level on points with second-place Munster in the Guinness PRO12.
  • Sean O’Brien, Hayden Triggs, Luke McGrath and Cian Healy all went over, but Rory O’Loughlin stole the show with a hat-trick, before Garry Ringrose chimed in with a double and Jamie Heaslip grabbed the tenth.
  • Ospreys lead the Guinness PRO12 thanks to a bonus-point win against reigning champions Connacht and what a difference a year makes for Steve Tandy’s side.
  • In the corresponding fixture last year, it was Pat Lam’s side who stole a 21-16 win at the Liberty Stadium, but tries from Dan Baker, Olly Cracknell, Nicky Smith and Beck fired the Welshmen three points clear
  • Tommy Seymour inspired Warriors to fourth-place with an all-action performance as full-back Peter Murchie pitched in with two tries during a 29-15 win against Cardiff Blues.
  • James Malcolm’s 65th-minute score sealed the bonus point that moved them past Scarlets – who edged out Ulster 16-13 at Park Y Scarlets – into the top four.
  • Newport Gwent Dragons moved into ninth place with a 26-8 victory over Benetton Treviso as stand-off Angus O’Brien kicked 14 points.
©INPHO/CameraSport/Ian Cook

©INPHO/CameraSport/Ian Cook

Quotes of the weekend:

Ronan O’Gara stunned by Munster precision:

“I was taken aback. I knew they’d be good but watching them up close they were really good. They have great detail in their game and one of the biggest things that struck me was athletes in their prime against guys in their 30’s.”

“They have the capacity to put three times the score on. That’s the reality, even though I thought they took all their chances. It wasn’t as if they dropped the ball. That’s the game they play.

“They are well marshalled at half-back, they have great line speed, an unbelievable maul and unbelievable forwards. They clean pass the ball. CJ is a threat every time he gets the ball and Peter is a threat. Zebo scores again. It’s a good team.”

Townsend ready for Munster after fifth consecutive win:

“The momentum this win gives us going into the Munster game is crucial, but beating Cardiff was also really important for the Guinness PRO12 points.

“This is normally the stage of the season when the hard work we’ve done in pre-season and through the season comes to fruition.

“It was really pleasing for us as coaches to see a typical Glasgow performance of really taking the game to the opposition. Even when things weren’t working against Cardiff they still had the resilience to keep going and find a way to win.”

Garry Ringrose taking time to reflect on his fine season:

“I still feel lucky, and it’s still a kinda pinch yourself moment getting the chance to represent Leinster, especially here in the RDS with my friends and family in the crowd.

“How special that feels certainly hasn’t dwindled in any way, so not too much has changed.

“I was over the moon to get the opportunity I did (with Ireland) during the autumn. I wouldn’t have expected or envisaged getting the opportunities I did.

“That’s the challenge I have now, to take that experience and turn it into something beneficial for Leinster.”

Top of the tweets:

Scott Baldwin has a weekend to remember:

Tommy Seymour impressed with resurgent Warriors:

Jerry Flannery on a momentous weekend in Paris:

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