Weekend round-up: Narrow margins decide derbies

Paul Eddison
23 December 2019

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The Guinness PRO14 was back with a bang with a host of close derby games and just one encounter decided by more than five points.

That was Leinster’s 96-point thriller against Ulster, and after a thrilling weekend, it is time to catch up on everything that took place.

Leinster keep on rolling

Another week, another win for Leinster, who put out a much-changed side but to similar results as they saw off Ulster 54-42 at the RDS Arena.

Leo Cullen was disappointed at the defence on show in the second half, but this was another dominant display as Leinster wrapped up the bonus point in half an hour, with youngster Harry Byrne pulling the strings.

Max Deegan and Scott Penny helped themselves to two tries apiece and Leinster ran in eight in total, while Ulster scored six of their own to come away with something from the game.

Benetton defence holds firm

Benetton desperately needed a win against Zebre to keep their Final Series hopes alive, and they got it, but the 13-8 win in Parma did not come easy.

Zebre dominated both possession and territory throughout and led 3-0 at the break.

Hame Faiva’s second-half try put Benetton in front, and the boot of Ian Keatley saw them home, but not without quite a scare.

1872 Cup bursts into life late on

Glasgow Warriors’ clash with Edinburgh was a nervy encounter for an hour, with both teams looking to avoid mistakes.

The final 15 minutes were the complete opposite though, as Glasgow came through to win it 20-16 thanks to George Turner’s late try.

Prior to that, Ali Price had finished off a beauty of a counter-attack before Blair Kinghorn’s reply looked to have won it for Edinburgh. Turner had other ideas.

Davies drops the Dragons to victory

Sam Davies has flourished since moving east to Rodney Parade, and he cemented his position as a fan favourite with a last-gasp drop goal in a 22-20 win over the Scarlets.

The Dragons had shown remarkable accuracy to get into position for that shot despite difficult conditions, and Davies made no mistake when it came his way.

Rhodri Williams had earlier scored their sole try, while Ken Owens and Gareth Davies went over for the Scarlets, who had to settle for a losing bonus point.

Munster young guns step up

Munster took an inexperienced side to the Sportsground on Saturday, but the faith that Johann van Graan placed in youth paid dividends in a 19-14 victory over Connacht.

Jack O’Donoghue came off the bench after just ten minutes, and it was he who scored the lone Munster try after 25 minutes.

Connacht were never really able to get their hands on the ball, and Jack Carty’s try seven minutes from time was all they could muster to earn a losing bonus point.

Blues fight back

The Cardiff Blues had not won at the Liberty Stadium in a decade and a half, but after a huge battle, they got the better of the Ospreys 19-16.

Jarrod Evans’ try on the hour put them in front, and while the Ospreys levelled with a third Marty McKenzie penalty, Jason Tovey slotted three points with seven minutes to go to secure the victory.

That win, combined with Benetton’s success against Zebre means that just seven points separate second and sixth in Conference B.

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