Ulster return to winning ways against Scarlets
January 5, 2013
Glasgow's Alex Dunbar shrugs off the Treviso defence © PA Photos
RaboDirect PRO12 leaders Ulster bounced back from their first defeat of the campaign with an emphatic 47-15 victory over Scarlets at Ravenhill on Friday night.
The result, Ulster's 12th victory in 13 league games, cements their place at the top of the table where they now have an 11 point lead. Ulster scored five tries - all in the second half - from Robbie Diack, Andrew Trimble, Nick Williams, Neil McComb and a penalty try. Ruan Pienaar kicked four penalties and two conversions on his 50th appearance.
The Scarlets, who have now lost five of their last six games, at least did not endure a repeat of having two players shown red - as was the case against Ospreys on Boxing Day - but they will be bitterly disappointed at this showing with late tries from Josh Turnball and Scott Williams adding a little gloss to the scoreboard.
Elsewhere, Glasgow climbed into second place thanks to a 41-7 demolition of Treviso at the Scotstoun Stadium. Treviso were reduced to 14 men in the early stages, allowing Glasgow to dominate - scoring three tries in the first period and two in the second.
Ruaridh Jackson proved reliable from the kicking tee, slotting five kicks between the sticks and collecting the man of the match award. Duncan Weir also added to the scoring with two late conversions. The home side were unable to keep a clean sheet though, as Treviso scored a second half try.
That win took Glasgow above Ospreys who held off a determined effort from basement side Zebre to claim a narrow 16-15 win in their clash at the Liberty Stadium. Fly-half Dan Biggar scored all Ospreys' points as the Welsh side edged out their win-less rivals who out-scored the hosts by two tries to one.
The Ospreys had probably targeted a bonus point win against the winless Italians but an error-strewn display saw them trail until the 66th minute, with a shock Italian win on the cards before that. Biggar scored three penalties and converted his own try while Zebre scored tries through scrum-half Alberto Chillon and his replacement Tito Tebaldi.
Owen Williams and Robin Copeland both scored their first tries for the Cardiff Blues as they floored Munster 17-6 at a foggy Musgrave Park. It was the Blues' first win on Munster soil since October 2007 and occurred on a night when Ronan O'Gara became the Irish province's most-capped player.
O'Gara will not want to remember his 233rd competitive appearance as he was outshone by his opposite number, man-of-the-match Rhys Patchell. The 19-year-old Patchell converted both tries, adding to an early penalty, and displayed a calmness and control beyond his years in the No.10 channel. O'Gara kicked a penalty in each half but Munster lacked penetration throughout and have now fallen to sixth in the standings.
In Friday night's other game, Brian O'Driscoll completed a full 80 minutes in his comeback from injury as Leinster powered past Edinburgh 31-16 at Murrayfield. The European champions had a penalty try as well as touchdowns from Gordon D'Arcy, Jonny Sexton and Ian Madigan, plus 11 points from Sexton's reliable boot.
The hosts, for whom this was a fourth successive defeat in all competitions, had two penalties by Greig Laidlaw and a drop goal from Piers Francis, who added the conversion of a late try for prop Willem Nel.
In Saturday's battle of the strugglers, Connacht halted a run of four straight defeats with a 30-11 victory over the Dragons in Galway. Although they failed to garner a likely bonus point in the final quarter, a penalty try and efforts from George Naoupu and Danie Poolman had already confirmed the Irish province's dominance.
Connacht fly-half Dan Parks stamped his mark on a scrappy game with a 15-point contribution, while replacement Jonathan Evans scored a late consolation try for the Dragons to add to Tom Prydie's brace of penalties.
Leinster's Cian Healy tackles Edinburgh's Andy Titterrell during their clash at Murrayfield © PA Photos
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The time for tinkering is over - England must nail their colours to the mast in key positions, writes Phil Vickery
"New Zealand-born Joe Schmidt has forged the Irish into a street-smart, well- prepared side," John Mitchell on the Irish renaissance
"I am bored of hearing 'I can't fault the effort'. Let us take that for granted and look for some quality." John Taylor writes
Reports comparing the 2014 Wallabies with their rabble-like predecessors of 2005 are unfair and self-serving, Greg Growden reports