Munster down Treviso to go second
March 22, 2014
Munster survived a spirited effort from Treviso to go second in the RaboDirect PRO12 thanks to a 14-3 win at Thomond Park.
Tries in either half saw Munster home in a match played in poor conditions. A sole Mat Berquist penalty looked to be the only score of the first-half until Munster took the lead thanks to a 37th minute try from Keith Earls which JJ Hanrahan duly converted.
The second-half saw more of the same sloppy errors which littered the first-half but James Downey burrowed over after 55 minutes to give Munster an 11-point lead against 14-man Treviso who had hooker Giovanni Maistri sin-binned five minutes previous. Despite both teams attempting to get some more points on the board, the scoreboard was not troubled further as Munster emerged with an important win.
Glasgow Warriors kept up their charge for a play-off spot with a 14-6 win over Scarlets.
At the start of a critical period for Glasgow's hopes of finishing in the league's top four and qualifying for the play-offs, the Warriors were tested by their Welsh opponents despite their domination of possession and territory. By contrast the result was a blow for the visitors, who were coming off a run of three wins in four starts that had awakened their own hopes of a top four place
Glasgow, who led 11-3 at the break, scored the only try of the night in the 31st minute, when livewire winger Nikola Matawalu crossed, with Duncan Weir adding three penalties. Scarlets had little possession to engineer much in the way of attacks but defended securely with their points coming from a brace of Olly Barkley penalties.
Jordi Murphy scored the bonus point try in injury-time as Leinster saw off a stubborn Zebre side 27-0 to cement their spot at the top of the tree. There were five players included from the Ireland squad that claimed the Six Nations title in Paris, with Fergus McFadden, Ian Madigan and Murphy all starting with Martin Moore and Eoin Reddan used off the bench.
In a penalty-ridden first half at the RDS, place-kickers Madigan and Tommaso Iannone missed two shots apiece in a difficult swirling wind. Centre Noel Reid's fifth try of the league campaign - while Iannone was in the sin-bin - gave Leinster an 8-0 interval lead.
Matt O'Connor's men gradually lifted the intensity and Luke Fitzgerald's brace of tries, scored after 59 and 66 minutes, confirmed Leinster's ninth straight win in all competitions. The defending champions pushed for a late bonus point and the tiring Italians conceded a fourth try right at the death, Leinster building from a close-in lineout and flanker Murphy was mauled over.
Fijian wing Aisea Natoga crossed for a hat-trick of tries as the Ospreys claimed a crucial 34-9 bonus-point victory over Cardiff Blues in their quest for a play-off spot. The Liberty Stadium side dominated from first to last, claiming five tries to cement their position in fourth spot in the table.
With Wales international half-backs Dan Biggar and Rhys Webb enjoying an armchair ride, the home side revelled in a glut of possession and territory. And they were three tries to the good at half-time with man-of-the-match Natoga claiming two of them. The one-sided nature of the contest continued after the break with Webb and Natoga again adding further scores with the hapless Blues offering little as they slumped to a fifth successive league defeat.
In the final match on the now notorious Murrayfield turf before it is relaid, the boot of Paddy Jackson saw Ulster secure a 9-3 victory over hosts Edinburgh. Jackson slotted two penalties in the first half and one in the second to one first-half strike by Carl Bezuidenhout, to leave Edinburgh with only a losing bonus point and Ulster with four points which lifted them to second spot.
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