Munster make it two from two
September 13, 2013
Ian Keatley grabbed one of Munster's four tries against Zebre © Getty Images
Munster maintained their unbeaten start to the RaboDirect PRO12 season with a 43-21 victory over Zebre at the Stadio XXV Aprile.
Zebre went in at half-time 18-9 ahead after tries from Luciano Orquera and Andrea Macini but CJ Stander's double helped the Irish province home. Two JJ Hanrahan penalties gave Munster an early lead but Orquera halved the deficit and then crossed for the opening try after catching Munster off guard with a quick tap penalty. Hanrahan brought his side back within a point but hooker Macini surprisingly popped up on the end of a flowing move and outpaced Munster full-back Denis Hurley to score.
Half-time substitute James Downey quickly won a penalty from which Hanrahan cut the deficit and it sparked a dramatic second-half comeback. Paddy Butler's try and Hanrahan's conversion put Munster 19-18 up, and two barnstorming runs through the defence from Stander proved decisive. Filippo Ferrarini wasted a three-on-one chance to bring Zebre back into the game and replacement fly-half Ian Keatley converted his own try to round off Munster's win.
Glasgow are hot on their heels following their narrow 13-12 victory over Ulster at Ravenhill. James Eddie's converted try with the last move of the game sealed a rare win in dramatic style as lat year's beaten finalists fell to their second successive defeat. On a night when Ravenhill paid tribute to Nevin Spence, who died a year ago in a farm tragedy along with his father Noel and brother Graham, the home side wasted a glorious opportunity to seal a game which they led 12-6 at half-time. Instead Gregor Townsend's men stole away with the four points to remain unbeaten after two games while Ulster had only a losing bonus point - the same gain they managed from their shock 15-8 defeat at Newport Gwent Dragons the week before.
Dan Biggar snatched a 29-29 draw for the Ospreys in Dublin as reigning champions Leinster let a 10-point first-half advantage slip away. Referee Leighton Hodges awarded a controversial injury-time penalty and moved the kick even closer as he punished Leinster for not retreating quickly enough. Leinster dictated for most of the first half with Richardt Strauss and David Kearney running in tries with Biggar keeping the Welsh region in touch with three penalties, including one just before the interval to cut the deficit to single figures. Biggar and Jimmy Gopperth swapped kicks on the resumption before the Ospreys raced ahead thanks to two tries in the space of three minutes from Joe Bearman and Ashley Beck.
It looked like curtains for the Irish province when they had Sean Cronin sin-binned, but they managed to score 10 points while the hooker was off - Gopperth converting man-of-the-match Jack McGrath's try and adding another penalty for the lead. Yet there was yet another twist in the edge-of-the-seat contest, a last-gasp ruck offence paving the way for Biggar's equalising kick.
Edinburgh opened their account with a 16-13 victory over the Dragons at Murrayfield. Harry Leonard's last-gasp penalty gave Edinburgh's new coach Alan Solomons a much-needed win over a Newport Gwent Dragons side that have been a bogey team for them in recent seasons. The Dragons looked on course to build on their opening day win over Ulster with a draw at Murrayfield, but Leonard's penalty at the death broke their hearts. It was a key victory for Edinburgh, who were beaten by Munster last week and were grateful for Tim Visser's converted try and Leonard's three penalties. On his return in Dragons colours after an unhappy season at Edinburgh, Dragons scrum-half Richie Rees picked up his side's try. Jason Tovey kicked the conversion and a penalty, while substitute Kris Burton equalised five minutes before the end with his boot.
Cardiff Blues also returned to winning ways with a 21-10 victory over Connacht at the Arms Park. Young Cardiff fly-half Rhys Patchell scored all 21 points for the Blues, who claimed their first RaboDirect Pro12 win of the season against Connacht. Twenty-year-old Patchell, who has already represented Wales twice this year, was nigh-on flawless with the boot, scoring six penalties and a first-half drop goal. Connacht had a 10-9 lead at the interval thanks to wing Matt Healy's try while former Blues fly-half Dan Parks, who is now player-coach with the Irish province, converted and added a penalty but they faded thereafter and Patchell scored 12 unanswered points to seal victory for Cardiff at Arms Park.
Scrum-half Gareth Davies scored both Scarlets tries as the Welsh region registered their a 26-10 victory over Treviso at Parc Y Scarlets. Centre Steven Shingler also provided 16 points with the boot to help make up for their 42-19 defeat at home to a weakened Leinster last weekend. For Treviso wing Ludovico Nitoglia scored a try with scrum-half Toby Botes kicking a penalty and a conversion. Centre Jonathan Davies came off the bench in the final 20 minutes in his first return to Scarlets colours since being part of the victorious British and Irish Lions tour to Australia.
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