Guinness PRO14 Weekend Wrap: Munster battle back to top of Conference A and Southern Kings stun Edinburgh

Will Thompson
27 January 2019

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There was no shortage of drama in the Guinness PRO14 over the weekend as Munster ground out a narrow away victory over Dragons to return to the top of Conference A and Isuzu Southern Kings produced a rousing late comeback to topple Edinburgh.

In a keenly-contested Round 14, Glasgow Warriors, Leinster and Cardiff Blues also recorded narrow wins, while Toyota Cheetahs thumped Zebre.

Meanwhile, Ulster and Benetton could not be separated as the pair played out a tense 17-17 draw at the Kingspan Stadium.

  • Brandon Thomson’s unerring boot was the difference as Glasgow edged Ospreys in an attritional game played in wet and windy conditions.
  • Leinster’s dominance of Conference B continued as they staved off a sprited Scarlets fightback in Dublin. New Zealander James Lowe powered over for the decisive score after the Welsh side had recovered from a 10-point deficit to level proceedings. Leo Cullen’s men have now lost just once on home soil in the PRO14 since May 2017.
  • In-form Benetton were denied a sixth straight PRO14 victory by a last-gasp Ulster penalty try. The Italians, spearheaded by the excellent Ian McKinley, will rue their failure to turn their dominance into a vital away victory.
  • Matthew Screech’s yellow card proved the turning point as Munster took the share of the spoils at Rodney Parade. In clinical fashion, the Thomond Park outfit seized their chance to make the most of their numerical advantage, with second-row Jean Kleyn crossing the whitewash for the winning score.
  • Toyota Cheetahs ran in nine tries to secure a much-needed bonus point in an entertaining match against Zebre in Bloomfontein. The victory saw the hosts make it five on the spin unbeaten, but Zebre’s rut continues. The Italians last emerged triumphant in late October.
  • Cardiff Blues utility back Owen Lane defied horrendous weather conditions to dot down for an acrobatic score in the 8-7 win over Connacht. Paul Boyle’s try opened up the prospect of a comeback from the visitors, but Blues held on to give their play-off hopes a boost.
  • A stunning try from Yaw Penxe was a fitting way for Isuzu Southern Kings to seal a famous comeback victory over Edinburgh. Ross Ford’s 71st minute score seemed to have secured an away win for the Scots, but Bjorn Basson reduced the arrears shortly after. The stage was then set for Penxe to race clear down the right and complete the turnaround following a Meli Rokoua’s superb run and pass.

 

WHAT THEY SAID

Acting Glasgow Warriors head coach Kenny Murray: “It was a tough game. We spoke as a group about the need for the four points tonight.

“The context this year is massively different to last season – this time last year we were 20 points clear, this year it’s obviously a lot closer.

“We’ve got big games coming up against Cardiff Blues and Connacht, too, so this period for me could be the defining point in our season.”

Leinster head coach Leo Cullen: “We feel a little bit fortunate to come away with the win, for sure. At the start of the second-half we allowed Scarlets into the game, we didn’t manage where we were trying to play the game.

“Against better teams you get punished.”

Ulster coach Dan McFarland: “That’s definitely a draw that felt like a loss. We should have won that game but didn’t play well enough.

“For a lot of the time we weren’t up to it, physically they were very strong and we struggled to deal with it defensively and in attack.

“We should have been better.”

Dragons interim coach Ceri Jones: “Tactically we were really good and our work rate was excellent to put ourselves in a position to win the game, unfortunately we just didn’t take that opportunity.

“We had some really good performances over the Christmas period and we will just keep building on the back of that. If we do that then I am sure the wins will come.”

Isuzu Southern Kings head Coach Deon Davids: “I’m very proud of the effort that the guys put in. We really fought hard for the win and showed great composure in the second half. The guys who came off the bench made a big impact. They are young men, but they did what they were asked to do.

Cardiff Blues boss John Mulvihill: “We gave all we could there today. I didn’t know if eight points was going to be enough playing into that wind in the second half.

“The boys hung tough and our discipline in the second half was outstanding. I think we only gave away two penalties to about six and that’s what kept us in the game.”

 

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