Sandwiched in between a pair of European breaks, the championship made the most of its return as all seven fixtures delivered narrative by the bucket-load.
The Cheetahs won on the road; last year’s finalists clashed; and there was a special result for Zebre.
Munster 16-18 Edinburgh Rugby
Edinburgh made history on Friday night when they went to what is arguably the Guinness PRO14’s most feared arena and emerged victorious.
For the first time since 2004, the Scottish side toppled Munster at Irish Independent Park, as tries from Matt Scott and Eroni Sau – either side of Tomy O’Donnell’s score – had them eke out their fifth win of the domestic season.
The result sees them gain ground on the hosts – who had not been beaten in Cork in over three years – heading into another European fortnight, with just two points now separating the top three in Conference B.
Ulster 29-5 Scarlets
While Munster flailed under the Friday night lights, up the road in Belfast it was business as usual for Ulster.
They downed the in-form Scarlets in style, running in five tries – Matt Faddes grabbing two of them – to keep the pressure on Leinster at the summit of Conference A.
Try number 2 for @MattFaddes 🙌
— Ulster Rugby (@UlsterRugby) 30 November 2019
That’s the third win on the spin for Dan McFarland’s side, who will return to Champions Cup action in high spirits, while Scarlets have now lost two on the bounce in the Guinness PRO14 after having won four of their first five.
Benetton 28-31 Cardiff Blues
One of the early contenders for game of the season took place at the Stadio Monigo as Cardiff Blues came from behind to break Benetton hearts late on.
Down 28-17 with 20 minutes to play, John Mulvihill’s men somehow dug deep as scores from Alun Lawrence and an 81st-minute effort from Jason Harries turned the tables.
It’s now two weeks in a row that Benetton have been on the wrong side of thrillers in Treviso, after they were downed 35-32 by Northampton in the Champions Cup.
Connacht 24-12 Isuzu Southern Kings
After breaking their European duck with victory at Ospreys last time out, confidence was high in the Isuzu Southern Kings camp, but they faced a different proposition entirely with a trip to the Sportsground.
Two tries from Australian wing John Porch ensured that the hosts kept the pace in Conference B, on the shoulders of Irish rivals Munster.
@JohnPorch_ became the 8th Aussie born player to score a @PRO14Official try for @connachtrugby. @FinlayBealham moved into 2nd place (10 tries) of try-scoring Aussie’s for Connacht in the championship, now 5 behind Matt Mostyn and 1 ahead of Paul Warwick.
@connachclan #CONvKIN pic.twitter.com/pXvN8zoDPk
— Craggy Rugby Podcast (@craggyrugbypod) 1 December 2019
Efforts from Erich Cronje and Scott van Breda salvaged credibility for the visitors, who acquitted themselves well on a tough stage.
Dragons 12-39 Zebre
After the Dragons ended their away-day hoodoo at Zebre back in Round 2, it was the Italians’ turn to enact revenge in Newport.
An emphatic five-try triumph ended their 20-game winless run and handed them a first Guinness PRO14 victory of the season.
Carlo Canna impressed for the visitors as they kept the Dragons at arm’s length throughout, spreading the tries out around the team, with five different scorers getting in on the act.
Glasgow Warriors 10-23 Leinster
Last season’s Guinness PRO14 finalists faced off on Saturday night at Scotstoun, and it was to be an identical outcome to that of May’s showpiece.
Cian Kelleher scored twice inside five first-half minutes as the visitors asserted themselves on the contest, responding in perfect fashion to Ruaridh Jackson’s early Warriors tries.
“It’s great to keep our momentum going.” 💪🔵@rossmolony spoke exclusively to #LeinsterRugby TV after leading the province to a win over Glasgow Warriors at Scotstoun. 👇#GLAvLEI #JoinTheRoar pic.twitter.com/ek2mQLLITv
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) 30 November 2019
Leinster then succeeded in keeping their foes at bay for the rest of the contest, controlling the ball as Glasgow failed to put another point on the board.
Ospreys 13-18 Toyota Cheetahs
After winning their opening three Guinness PRO14 outings this season and being mooted as potential title-contenders, the Cheetahs hit a road-block when it came to their early European travails.
But they got their play-off hopes back on track with a gritty win in Swansea as Wilmar Arnoldi crossed with 15 minutes to play to seal victory.
For the hosts, it was another disappointing day out as they are left trailing in Conference A, now locked level with Zebre in the standings.
Cardiff City Stadium will play host to the 2020 Guinness PRO14 Final on June 20 as one of the most exciting days in the club rugby calendar comes to Wales!
General sale tickets are available from http://bit.ly/PRO14Cardiff2020 and prices start at just £13 for concessions and £26 for adults (subject to booking fees), that’s a 15% early bird discount. Family ticket (2 adults / 2 children) prices begin at £64 and fans are encouraged to buy early to get the best value tickets.