Ulster keep the heat on Leinster
October 4, 2009
Lee Byrne grabbed one of the Ospreys' four tries in their victory over Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium © Getty Images
Ospreys 31 - 10 Edinburgh Cardiff Blues 5 - 21 Glasgow Leinster 30 - 0 Munster Dragons 23 - 10 Connacht Ulster 45 - 24 Scarlets
Ulster laid temporary claim to top spot with a thumping 45-24 victory over Scarlets at Ravenhill on Friday night. Fly-half Ian Humphreys produced a man of the match display, scoring 20 points from four penalties and four conversions and also creating his team's third try with a chip for Fijian winger Timoci Nagusa. Ulster's other tryscorers were Andrew Trimble, who grabbed a brace, and Willie Faloon and substitute Ian Whitten.
Following Stephen Jones' penalty on two minutes, Ulster immediately responded and, from the restart, won the ball back and moved it wide. Ball was quickly recycled and South African prop Brendon Botha's line break saw flanker Faloon sweep in under the posts. Humphreys easily added the extras to give Ulster the lead.
Jones and Humphreys then exchanged penalties, the latter following a yellow card for Rhys Thomas for spear-tackling Ryan Caldwell. But, instead of kicking on from there, Ulster were penalised twice in the space of two minutes and Jones made no mistake to put the Scarlets 12-10 in front. Humphreys put Ulster back in the lead with his second penalty and added another in injury time giving Ulster a 16-12 lead at the turnaround.
Humphreys then made it 19-12 four minutes after the restart after Dafydd Jones was penalised for pulling down a maul and then when Humphreys miscued a bomb, Trimble followed it up by shoving Gareth Maule aside without the ball and then running in from just under 40 metres.But Ulster were not finished and on the hour Humphreys chipped for Nagusa to gather and race clear.
Trimble then pounced on a Scarlets mix-up to grab another score for the bonus point before Scarlets centre Jonathan Davies grabbed two consolation scores either side of a try for Ulster's Whitten.
Glasgow claimed their first ever away victory over the Blues with a 21-5 success at Cardff City Stadium on Saturday. A combination of turnovers and handling errors by the hapless home side provided the Warriors with ample possession and Irish referee George Clancy awarded a string of penalties. Tries from Thom Evans and Johnnie Beattie capped the Scottish side's win.
After Dan Parks had put the visitors in front with the first of the penalties and despite pressure from the hosts he was able to double his side's lead soon after. The Blues failed to take their chances and were made to pay before the break when Parks delivered a neat chip for Thom Evans to touchdown. The Scottish fly-half was proving less adept with place-kicks, however, pushing the conversion wide and then hitting a post with a penalty to open the second period.
A turnover gifted the visitors another scoring chance and although Parks was denied a try he made no mistake with a penalty that followed. The Blues spilled the ball once more just past the hour and Thom Evans broke clear to send No.8 John Beattie under the posts to provide Parks with a simple conversion.
A late try by flanker Sam Warburton merely enabled the Blues to avoid a whitewash, and a last-minute yellow card for a high tackle by Glasgow replacement Calum Forester made little difference to the inevitable outcome.
Ospreys got back to winning ways at Liberty Stadium with an impressive 31-10 victory over Edinburgh. The Ospreys put together some of their most potent attacking rugby of the season during a 16-minute spell in the first period when they scored three converted tries, which saw them lead 24-10 at the interval.
Edinburgh got on the scoreboard first through a fifth-minute Phil Godman penalty but after that it was all Ospreys until first-half injury time. Tommy Bowe started the Ospreys' return to form after 14 minutes by going over under the posts unchallenged following a fine pop pass from James Hook that wrong-footed the defence. And three minutes later Ryan Jones, courtesy of a Mike Phillips pass, made the most of a big hole in the Scots' defence.
But the Ospreys produced the best of the three tries in the 30th minute when good inter-passing saw Lee Byrne go over after a burst of pace down the right from Biggar and Nikki Walker. That was after Ali Hogg had been yellow-carded for a deliberate knock-on. But when Edinburgh were restored to 15 men they engineered an injury-time try from a scrum, with wing Tim Visser taking advantage of space on the blindside.
The Ospreys could not quite match the skilful efforts of the first half after the break, possibly because they made personnel changes with one eye on next week's Heineken Cup clash at Leicester. And they were not helped when Phillips was sent to the sin-bin for a sly trip on opposite number Mike Blair. But they eventually racked up the bonus-point try courtesy of an interception pass from replacement outside-half David Blair, which saw Jonathan Thomas run in from 40 metres.
Elsewhere on Saturday, tries from James Arlidge and Joe Bearman helped Dragons to a 23-10 win over Connacht at Rodney Parade. Fly-half Miah Nikora scored all the visitors' points by converting his own try and adding a penalty.
Despite driving rain and a strong wind, the home side made a determined start to force a penalty from which James Arlidge kicked them into the lead. Dragons scrum-half Danny Lee then sparked a break before feeding Arlidge, who scored the try and converted it himself. Nikora sliced through on the half hour for a try under the posts that he converted himself and he exchanged penalties with Arlidge before half-time to leave the Dragons with a narrow 13-10 lead at the interval.
In worsening conditions, replacement Shaun Connor drove over a penalty to make it 16-10 and in a grandstand finish, Bearman raced 30 metres down the touchline to score with Connor converting.
Concussion, relegation and the mother of all surprises - it's the Monday Maul.
Huw Richards assesses where Wales are after a mixed Six Nations, with front row seats still very much available for the World Cup
John Mitchell lapped up the action on 'Sensational Saturday' - but warns not to expect a repeat come Rugby World Cup time later this year
Craig Dowd warns England, Ireland and Wales they should play to their strengths rather than those of the All Blacks and the Wallabies