Wales swept aside Italy in the first match of the 2020 Championship, before a battling Ireland side edged past Scotland, but amidst all the drama Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings were busy contesting their Round 10 clash.
With a host of Guinness PRO14 players strutting their stuff on both fronts, we take a quick look at the biggest news stories from the weekend’s action.
Cheetahs title charge back on track?
Having left it late to squeeze over the line in the first of back-to-back South African derbies last week, Toyota Cheetahs were rampant second time around and cruised to a 45-0 win over Isuzu Southern Kings in Bloemfontein.
Both sides began at full pelt and were eager to get their noses in front in the early stages, but while they had to be patient, the hosts earned control of the contest at the break thanks to a Joseph Dweba double either side of Chris Massyn’s score.
— Springboks (@Springboks) February 1, 2020
Southern Kings – searching for only their second win of the campaign – had their moments either side of the interval but Jasper Wiese’s try, and three scores in the final 15 minutes from Clayton Blommetjies, Rhyno Smith and Louis Fouche put gloss on the winning scoreline.
Having come away with three wins in their last four Guinness PRO14 matches, Cheetahs have seen their Final Series hopes boosted and are now just five points behind second-placed Ulster in Conference A.
Robbi Kempson’s Southern Kings remain rooted to the bottom of Conference B following their latest defeat, 16 points adrift of Benetton in sixth and with a daunting trip to Munster next up.
Adams stars as Wales cruise past Italy
Wayne Pivac secured his first Test victory in charge of Wales with a dominant 42-0 win over Italy, and Cardiff Blues’ Josh Adams stole the show with a hat-trick of tries in Cardiff.
The 24-year-old – who was the top try-scorer at the 2019 Rugby World Cup – notched a first-half double after Dan Biggar had kicked the hosts into a nine-point lead, and the defending Grand Slam champions took a healthy 21-0 advantage into the break.
Debutant Nick Tompkins, and Ospreys star George North got their names on the scoresheet in the second period, before Adams went over for his third late on to stretch the winning margin.
Another Ospreys stalwart – Justin Tipuric – was named the game’s Player of the Match, and while Wales were dominant in every sense, they will be well aware they face a tougher task away at Ireland in Round 2.
Sexton helps Ireland squeeze past Scotland
Ireland are another Guinness Six Nations side under new stewardship, and Andy Farrell oversaw a hard-fought 19-12 victory for his charges against a wasteful Scotland team looking for their first win away at the 2018 Grand Slam champions in ten years.
The opposing fly-halves were the only two scorers on the day, with Glasgow Warriors’ Adam Hastings kicking the visitors in front, before new Ireland skipper Johnny Sexton dotted down for the game’s only try.
— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) February 1, 2020
The Leinster star then profited from a number of soft penalties to kick Ireland to victory, as former Warriors hero Stuart Hogg wasted a great chance to score for Scotland when he dropped the ball over the try line.
England’s 24-17 defeat in France on Sunday will give the Scots hope of a Calcutta Cup win in Edinburgh next time out, while Ireland must improve if they are to beat Wales this weekend.