Ulster secure Heineken Cup status
April 25, 2010
Glasgow's Dan Parks slots a kick during his side's victory over Leinster at Firhill Arena © PA Photos
Ulster secured Heineken Cup rugby for next season with a 37-25 bonus point victory over play-off chasing Edinburgh at Murrayfield.
For sorry Edinburgh it was a sad day. A poor performance means their hopes of qualifying for the Magners League play-off are hanging by a thread.Tries by Jamie Smith for Ulster and Tim Visser for Edinburgh with Niall O'Connor and Phil Godman each kicking the conversion and a penalty meant the sides started the second half tied at 10-10.
However a much more slick Ulster secured a good win with second-half tries from Simon Danielli, Ian Whitten, Ian Humphreys and Stephen Ferris while Humphreys added two conversions and a penalty. Edinburgh's tries by Visser and Andy Turnbull were no consolation as Godman converted one and kicked a conversion.
The Scarlets enjoyed a Sunday afternoon stroll against an under-strength Connacht at Parc y Scarlets, securing their biggest ever Magners League win with a 58-10 rout.
With nothing more than pride to play for, the Scarlets attacked their task with fervour, racing into a 24-0 lead after just over 20 minutes. Tight-head Rhys Thomas powered through three tackles for the opening try and after Andy Fenby had gone close, flanker Rob McCusker showed an impressive turn of pace to notch the home side's second.
The playmaking brilliance of Regan King laid on the third as the one-time All Black carved up the Connacht defence to put his centre partner Jonathan Davies on a run to the line. Thomas' second, and the Scarlets' fourth, arrived before the break as the prop acrobatically rounded off a crossfield kick in the corner.
King continued his excellent game by profiting from a Sean Lamont break for the Scarlets' fifth, but Connacht struck back immediately with a well-taken five-pointer from young centre Eoin Griffin. However, a slick loop move between King and Rhys Priestland unlocked the visitors' defence once again, with Davies put in to bag his second, and openside Josh Turnbull added a seventh with a simple run in. King racked up the half century by waltzing through some awful defence before Lamont completed the scoring with the simplest of finished in the corner.
Glasgow closed in on a home semi-final in this season's Magners League play-offs wih a 30-6 victory over leaders Leinster at Firhill Arena.
Three Glasgow tries came courtesy of Bernardo Stortoni and Rob Dewey (2), while Dan Parks kicked three conversions and three penalties on what could be his final appearance at Firhill. Glasgow broke the deadlock after 23 minutes when Stortoni crossed the line for a try which was converted by Parks to bring his career points total for Glasgow to 1500.
The young Leinster side struggled in the second half as their discipline deserted them, four players spending time in the sin bin by the end of the game. With Leinster short-handed for much of the second period, Glasgow set up camp inside their opponents' 22, but the hosts could only profit to the tune of two tries by Dewey. The first of those arrived on 63 minutes when Dewey dashed over following a line out, while the substitute wrapped up a victory that takes Glasgow second in the standings with another effort at the death after latching onto a kick from Parks.
Elsewhere on Friday, Cardiff Blues kept their faint Magners League play-off hopes alive with a 20-14 victory over the Dragons at Rodney Parade.
The Dragons went ahead when outside-half James Arlidge booted a penalty. They then went 8-0 up when a move begun by skipper Tom Willis' drive ended with flanker Gavin Thomas feeding prop Ben Castle for an unconverted corner touchdown.
The Blues had their say with two tries in the space of a few minutes on the hour mark that put distance between them and the Dragons. It was former Dragons outside-half Ceri Sweeney who grabbed the first of those two when he booted a high kick into the home 22 only for fullback Martyn Thomas to slip and allow Sweeney to re-capture the ball and score. Then an excellent move down the right saw Leigh Halfpenny set up replacement Gavin Evans for a run-in.
Blair converted both to give his side a 20-8 lead going into the final quarter. The Dragons suffered another big blow, with a clash against the Ospreys looming next week, when Thomas was stretchered off with a badly damaged ankle that saw him taken straight to hospital. Another Arlidge penalty got the Dragons within sight of a losing bonus point and, deep into injury time, they achieved it with another penalty by the Kiwi.
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup
The reopening of the openside debate, a dominant wolf-pack and a sublime performance in defeat - Monday Maul looks at the weekend's talking points
The latest Week in Pictures takes in the Rugby Championship alongside the best photographs from around the domestic game
Amy Perrett, the Australian referee who whistled the Women's Rugby World Cup final after handling only six Tests, talks to Jamie Lyall