Glasgow extend unbeaten start to season
September 28, 2013
Cardiff Blues' Leigh Halfpenny slots a kick on the day he was linked with a move to French side Toulon © PA Photos
Glasgow made it four wins from four in this season's RaboDirect PRO12 with a 24-17 victory over Zebre on Friday night.
Two tries from Byron McGuigan helped Glasgow to a 24-17 victory at Zebre but they missed out on a bonus point. Wing McGuigan scored either side of half-time and hooker Dougie Hall was also on the scoresheet, with Henry Pyrgos adding all three conversions and a penalty. Having gone 24-3 up, though, the Scots switched off and allowed their hosts to score tries through Samuela Vunisa and Leonardo Sarto but there were to be no repeat of their heroics against Cardiff Blues last weekend.
Ospreys remain hot on Glasgow's heels following their 43-26 victory over Connacht at the Sportsground that saw Dan Biggar pass through the 1,000 league points barrier with an 18-point haul. The visiting Welsh region touched down three times in the opening 29 minutes, including an intercept effort from Biggar, with young out-half Craig Ronaldson keeping Connacht in touch at 22-12 down at half-time. It was a two-point game after Aly Muldowney set up Danie Poolman for Connacht's opening try, but even though Eoin Griffin added a second, replies from Tito Tebaldi, Jeff Hassler and captain Alun Wyn Jones made it a resounding 43-26 winning margin in the end.
Paul O'Connell made a successful return in Munster's workmanlike 23-9 win over the Newport Gwent Dragons at Musgrave Park. Introduced by Munster for the closing 30 minutes, O'Connell was playing for the first time since fracturing his right forearm during the Lions' opening Test against Australia in June.
The second row was closely watched by new Ireland head coach Joe Schmidt and forwards coach John Plumtree from the stands as Munster bounced back from losing in Treviso last weekend. Prop James Cronin's second try of the season gave Munster a 13-6 advantage at the break, the hosts moving clear after Kris Burton had matched JJ Hanrahan's early brace of penalties. Yellow cards for Dragons captain Andrew Coombs and Jevon Groves left the Welsh region in all sorts of trouble and Munster skipper Peter O'Mahony's close-range try, supplemented by a further Hanrahan conversion and penalty, made the game safe for the game.
Brian O'Driscoll began his final season of rugby on a winning note as he helped Leinster claim a bonus point 34-20 win against Cardiff Blues at the RDS. O'Driscoll and Sam Warburton - two men who missed the Lions' series-clinching win over Australia for contrasting reasons - made their seasonal bows in this round four clash.
It was a veritable Lions reunion as seven of the 2013 tour squad were involved, with Jamie Heaslip, another third Test absentee, returning to captain Leinster. O'Driscoll created the first half's only try for Sean Cronin, Leinster building a 13-6 interval lead with Ian Madigan and Leigh Halfpenny kicking two penalties apiece. Filo Paulo's 47th-minute yellow card preceded a penalty try for Leinster, however a tremendous solo effort from Alex Cuthbert kept the Welsh region in the hunt. But Matt O'Connor's men made certain of their first home victory of the campaign thanks to further tries from Dominic Ryan and man-of-the-match Madigan - who finished with 19 points.
Returning Lions Tommy Bowe and Rory Best made the perfect return to Ulster colours as the Irish province racked up a 32-13 win against Treviso - their first bonus point victory of the campaign and their second consecutive win after their rocky start to the season. Winger Michael Allen contributed two excellent scores while Ireland international Luke Marshall also crossed the Treviso line, with Paddy Jackson kicking two conversions and a penalty.
Scarlets got a vital and deserved second win from a run-of-the-mill game against Edinburgh distinguished by fine tries from Nick Reynolds and Jordan Williams. Jonathan Davies grabbed a third and Rhys Priestland kicked a penalty and two conversions in a 22-9 victory for the Welsh side. However, the result means that Edinburgh are still scratching around for the second win they need to leave the bottom of the table. Their points came from three penalties from stand-off Harry Leonard.
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