Connacht’s clash with Munster and Zebre’s battle with Benetton also went down to the wire with five points separating the teams come the final whistle.
Inevitably that brought with it plenty of reaction from across the Guinness PRO14.
THE MORIARTY QUESTION
Ross Moriarty has been the subject of much speculation in recent weeks with the Wales flanker linked to a move away from the Dragons with the Ospreys identified as a potential suitor.
And after the back-rower came off the bench to help swing the derby clash with the Scarlets the way of the Dragons, Dean Ryan was happy to heap praise on his international charge.
“Ross was outstanding,” Ryan told the Western Telegraph. “In a game that’s played with a bloke in front of you that’s either stood in your way or coming your way, that’s what Ross does well.
“He was the pick of anybody against the Scarlets when it came to the collisions. There was one tackle when he came off a scrum and lost his feet in the wet but still whacked the 9.
“I thought that was a great player’s decision, because most people when they lose their feet, lose their impetus and miss the tackle. It was moments like that when Ross really helped us in the last half-hour.”
— Dragons 🏉 (@dragonsrugby) December 21, 2019
Sam Davies slotted the late drop goal that snatched a 22-20 victory for the Dragons and confirmed their promising start to the season. But it was Moriarty who was at the centre of attention after the impact he made in just over half an hour on the pitch.
At Scotstoun, a tight 1872 Cup encounter burst into life with three tries in the final quarter of an hour, with George Turner’s score eventually proving the difference in a 20-16 win for Glasgow Warriors.
Despite that morale-boosting success, Dave Rennie wants his team to show greater ambition as they prepare to head to the capital for the second meeting with Edinburgh.
He told Scrum Magazine: “We can take confidence from what we did without the ball, but we’ve got to be bold and still play a bit of footy.
“I thought we played within our shell a bit at times. We’ll certainly kick ball back, but we’ve got to mix that up.
“When you play Edinburgh, they’re generally arm-wrestles because they’re going to kick a lot. I thought we defused the high ball really well and that was always going to be really important.
“It’s good to win a tight game and we’ll take a bit of confidence out of that for next week.”
📽️ Hear from Huw Jones, Kyle Steyn, Zander Fagerson and Ruaridh Jackson after our 20-16 win over Edinburgh in tonight’s 1872 Cup clash. pic.twitter.com/UwBKF3a71e
— Glasgow Warriors (@GlasgowWarriors) December 21, 2019
Edinburgh had edged in front with ten minutes to go thanks to a try from Blair Kinghorn, but they could not see out the final ten minutes, much to the frustration of Richard Cockerill.
He said: “It was a very tight, niggly game, and it could have gone either way – they’ve probably done just enough to edge it.
“We were in it to the death and we weren’t quite good enough to get over the line to win the game.
“We’ve come a long way from two and a half years ago. From the reaction of the crowd it was like a cup final to them.
“We’re heading in the right direction. We’ll dust ourselves off, come back next Saturday and have another crack at it.”
BLUES BREAK THE SPELL
The Cardiff Blues had not won at the Liberty Stadium in a decade and a half, and for much of the encounter against the Ospreys, it seemed that record might be extended.
However, a Jarrod Evans try on the hour turned the tide of the match, and a late Jason Tovey penalty clinched a 19-16 victory, with John Mulvihill paying tribute to his back row, as well as a change in preparation that helped secure the win.
He said: “From all the history of coming down here and not getting the right results, we just needed a positive and upbeat week, and that’s what we had.
“We did things slightly different today. We met at the Vale, had some food up there and did our walk through at the WRU’s Centre of Excellence before jumping on the bus.
“The attitude was on as soon as the bus doors opened outside the stadium and that’s why it was.
“The boys in the back row were playing against some big boys with good reputation.
“It was great for Shane (Lewis-Hughes) to be man-of-the-match, and Boydey (Will Boyde) to have such an impact alongside Josh Turnbull, who can play front or back and gives everything each week.
“You also have the luxury of brining Olly Robinson on, as well as having boys like Josh Navidi, Nick Williams and Ellis Jenkins, who will all eventually be back with us.”
John Mulvihill was delighted with his side’s grit and determination as they battled to their first Guinness PRO14 victory at Liberty Stadium since 2005. pic.twitter.com/dSXU5E8d8d
— Cardiff Blues (@cardiff_blues) December 21, 2019
CASEY STEPS UP
It was a young Munster team that went to Connacht and returned with a valuable 19-14 success including scrum-half Craig Casey.
The diminutive 20-year-old was a standout at age group level for Ireland last year, but this was another step up. He thrived on the big stage, with CJ Stander heaping praise on the youngster.
He told the Rugby Paper: “He’s a great young lad and he pushed us old fellas around the place and made us work harder. It’s great to see the young guys coming through.
“It was a very physical game, just what we expected, but we got confidence from our lineout and set-piece in what was a great contest.”
This is what it means! 🙌
— Munster Rugby (@Munsterrugby) December 21, 2019
CULLEN WANTS MORE
What a season Leinster are having, but as ever, Leo Cullen believes they are capable of more after Friday evening’s 54-42 win over Ulster.
Harry Byrne was the star of the show as Leinster wrapped up the bonus point by the half-hour, but with Ulster fighting back to score six tries of their own, Cullen was not entirely satisfied.
“There were lots of good bits, particularly in the first half,” Cullen told Eir Sport afterwards.
“Credit to the players, I thought they applied themselves really well. The second half was very disjointed.
“There were a lot of tries for both sides. We gave away a lot of penalties, which meant we gave away a lot of good field position, as well.
“Delighted to get a win and a bonus point, (but) frustrated to concede as many points, especially here at home.”
“The bonus point is good in terms of the outcome but disappointing to concede that amount of points, particularly here at home.”
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) December 20, 2019