Leinster down Glasgow to hit top spot
March 23, 2013
Wales flanker Dan Lydiate made his long-awaited return from injury for the Dragons against the Ospreys © PA Photos
An in-form Ian Madigan scored all of Leinster's points as they hit top spot in the RaboDirect PRO12 with a 22-17 victory over title rivals Glasgow on Saturday night.
Madigan had the RDS rocking to his beat as he broke through for a crucial 72nd minute try, and then notched his fifth penalty from five attempts to seal the deal. Glasgow, on a seven-match winning streak in the league, were the better side for the first hour and will be disappointed to take only a losing bonus point home.
An entertaining first half produced two converted tries for the Warriors, prop Ed Kalman grabbing the opener from Josh Strauss' inviting offload and Peter Horne following up on the half hour thanks to DTH van der Merwe's fine approach work. Madigan's right boot kept Leinster in touch at 17-12 down, the recent Ireland debutant nailing his four penalty shots before the break. Niko Matawalu dictated much of the play for the Scots, but his withdrawal on the hour mark allowed Leinster to get on the front foot before Madigan's late heroics.
Earlier in the day, Paul O'Connell lasted the full 80 minutes as he made a try-scoring return in Munster's 22-0 derby win over Connacht on Saturday night. Having lined out for Munster 'A' and club side Young Munster in recent weeks, O'Connell stepped up to senior level for the first time since having surgery to correct a bulging disc in his back. The big lock, eager to be part of Warren Gatland's Lions plans, enjoyed an energetic first appearance for Munster since October.
Both he and Damien Varley touched down inside the opening 14 minutes at Musgrave Park, with a late Ronan O'Gara penalty making it 15-0 at the break. But although Varley doubled his try tally in the second half, Rob Penney's men failed to push on and the bonus point score eluded them.
Leaders Ulster suffered a shock defeat to Edinburgh as interim coaching duo of Steve Scott and Duncan Hodge made a winning start to their tenure with a 14-8 at Murrayfield on Friday night. It was only Edinburgh's fifth PRO12 success of the campaign. A try by Stuart McInally plus two penalties by Piers Francis saw the Scots home against an Ulster side for whom Andrew Trimble bagged a try and Paddy Jackson landed a penalty. However, it was Jackson's lack of accuracy with the boot that proved to be the difference between the sides as he failed with three simple penalties early in the second half.
The Ospreys ran in seven tries as they smashed the Dragons 52-19 to move into the top four of the RaboDirect Pro12. Wales flanker Dan Lydiate played the first 40 minutes on his comeback from a broken ankle, which had prevented him participating in Wales' Six Nations triumph. His presence would have been welcome news for Lions head coach Warren Gatland but failed to stem the flow of tries to the Ospreys.
The Ospreys ran in first-half tries through Kahn Fotuali'i, Ashley Beck and Tom Habberfield to give them a 24-3 half-time advantage. After the break Thomas Isaacs, Dan Biggar, Dimitri Arhip and Justin Tipuric all crossed for the hosts. Biggar ended with a personal haul of 18 points as he added five conversions and a penalty to his five pointer. Matthew Morgan added two of the conversions.Dan Evans and Toby Faletau went over for the visitors, while Steffan Jones slotted three penalties as the Dragons slumped to a record defeat in this fixture.
The Scarlets overcame a shaky start in Italy to beat bottom side Zebre 24-10. The Welsh region conceded an early try to Zebre No.8 Dries van Schalkwyk but two penalties from Owen Williams and a try from winger Liam Williams ensured they went into half time 11-5 up. And after the break Johan Snyman scored the Scarlets's second try while Williams added a further two penalties, along with the conversion, to secure the victory.
Alberto di Bernardo made all the difference as his kicking condemned Cardiff Blues to a 26-17 defeat at Benetton Treviso in a game played in difficult conditions. Di Bernardo kicked four penalties and also converted an early try from Alessandro Zanni and also missed several other kicks which would have made his side's victory more emphatic.
The Blues had gone ahead with Ceri Sweeney's early penalty and retook the lead when he converted Dafydd Hewitt's try but from then on the home side dominated the first half. Lou Reed's try early in the second half was converted by Sweeney but the visitors' only other score was a penalty by fly half Sweeney.
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