Guinness PRO14 Saturday wrap: Cheetahs edge thriller in Italy while Leinster and Scarlets secure derby triumphs

Jack Miller
29 October 2017

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Leinster inflicted a first home Guinness PRO14 defeat in a year on interpro rivals Ulster, Scarlets battled back to beat Cardiff Blues, the Toyota Cheetahs left it late in Parma, while Edinburgh stole a march on Conference B rivals Benetton.

  • Two second-half tries from Luke McGrath spearheaded Leinster’s 25-10 win in Belfast – their first since 2014 and the first win for the away team in nine meetings between the inter-provincial rivals.
  • Flanker Sean Reidy cancelled out Jordan Larmour’s early try for the hosts, forcing his way over before the half-hour mark, but that proved to be Ulster’s sole touchdown of the night as the boys in blue – without Jonathan Sexton and Robbie Henshaw – showcased their strength in depth once again.
  • With Warren Gatland in the stands, Wales hopeful Steff Evans made his case in fine style for Scarlets to take the game away from Cardiff Blues and win 30-17.
  • The PRO14 champions had already squandered a 15-point buffer with 27 minutes remaining, with Willis Halaholo and Lloyd Williams bringing the Blues within a point, but Evans’ grubber set up Jonathan Evans to score before the speedster went over himself for a decisive score.
  • Replacement Fred Zeilinga proved ice runs through his veins as he nailed a last-gasp penalty in Parma to snatch a 24-23 victory for the Cheetahs over Zebre.
  • Carlo Canna was metronomic from the tee as Matteo Minozzi and Oliviero Fabiani scores set the hosts on course for a third league win of the season, but Makazole Mapimpi’s double – taking his league try-tally to eight this season – and Zeilinga’s late kick handed the South Africans their first-ever away win in the PRO14.
  • And Edinburgh put some breathing space between themselves and Conference B rivals Benetton, the Scots winning 24-13 as Dougie Fife popped up twice in the last 20 minutes after Sam Hidalgo-Clyne put them ahead early on.

WHAT THEY SAID:

Man-of-the-match Sean O’Brien was delighted to mark his return from injury for Leinster with a win:

“It was great to be back and a nice one to come back to. It was a very important win for us away from home – it’s a very difficult place to come for us, we knew what we were going to be up against.

“We made life hard for ourselves at times but we dug in well for each-other and fought our way into the game.

“We probably over played a little bit in the first-half against a strong breeze. We just weren’t smart enough, we coughed up a few balls.

“Once we regrouped at half-time we came out and put a bit more pressure on them. We relieved a bit off ourselves and played in the right areas of the field.”

Wayne Pivac, Scarlets head coach, admitted his side had to work hard for their five points against Cardiff Blues.

“We didn’t get a lot of possession in the first half and as a result we were on the back foot.

“But they weren’t really threatening us and we knew that if we could just stop giving away those silly penalties and get some possession we’d be fine.

“So we had to work hard for that bonus point as they wouldn’t go away. We did well though to come back at 18-17 to put the game to bed.

“We’re certainly happy to get back to the top of the pool, and that was the challenge for the group before we sent off some of the boys to international duty.”

Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill tipped Blair Kinghorn, who had a hand in all three of Edinburgh’s tries, for international honours:

“He’s an exceptionally talented player and we just need to get that out of him on a consistent basis

“We know what he can do with ball in hand and it’s outstanding, world class at times. We just need to keep chipping away with his maturity around his playing, keep encouraging him and make sure week in, week out he’s doing that for us.

“If he does that I have no doubt he’ll get opportunities at Test level.”

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