Leinster overcome Connacht in Galway
January 4, 2014
Leinster completed a festive derby double at the Sportsground as they got the better of a youthful Connacht side with a 16-8 triumph.
Following up on their 19-6 Dublin defeat of Ulster a week ago, Matt O'Connor's men came good in the second half in Galway thanks to two Jimmy Gopperth penalties and a 73rd-minute converted try from Gordon D'Arcy. Fionn Carr's second try in three league games had Connacht 8-3 ahead at the break, with Ian Madigan and Jack Carty exchanging penalties.
But with their bench having an impact, the visitors hit the front for the first time in the 63rd minute and replacement Gopperth set up D'Arcy's first try since last April to seal the win. The result left Leinster three points adrift of leaders Munster at the top of the PRO12 standings.
Zebre claimed the Italian bragging rights for the first time as they defeated Treviso 14-12 thanks largely to the boot of Luciano Orquera.
The hosts, who had lost on the road at Treviso a week ago, trailed 9-5 at the break despite scoring the only try through full-back Guglielmo Palazzani as fly-half Mat Berquist kicked three penalties for the visitors. Berquist added another three-pointer after the resumption but a trio of penalties for Italy international Orquera gave Zebre the spoils in a 14-12 scoreline.
Ulster saw off Irish rivals Munster 29-19 at Ravenhill on Friday evening.
With two weekends of defining Heineken Cup action now ahead - Ulster are top of Pool Five and the only unbeaten side in Europe - this was the perfect way to head into games they hope will lead to a home quarter-final.
Ruan Pienaar ended the night kicking five penalties and he converted the first-half tries from Jared Payne and Darren Cave to claim a 19-point haul. Despite Ulster leading 20-0 just before half-time, Munster battled back with tries from Ivan Dineen, Dave Kilcloyne and James Coughlan to close at one stage to 23-19 in what was an absorbing contest.
But Ulster held their nerve and Pienaar kicked his final penalty in the last minute as Paul O'Connell was sin-binned, allowing the home side to recover from their defeat to Leinster last time out.
The Ospreys started 2014 on the right note as they beat Welsh rivals the Scarlets 17-12 at the Liberty Stadium on Friday.
First-half tries from centre Ashley Beck and wing Aisea Natoga were enough for them to hang on despite visiting fly-half Rhys Priestland kicking three second-half penalties. The match just came just eight days after Ospreys had won 10-6 at Parc y Scarlets.
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