Munster and Leinster on verge of home semi-finals
May 3, 2014
Leinster flanker Shane Jennings went over in the second half © Getty Images
Munster took a giant step towards a home semi-final in the RaboDirect Pro12 play-offs with a comprehensive 55-12 win at Edinburgh. The Irish side had to come from behind after tries from Carl Bezuidenhout and Willem Nel but they finally clicked into gear and scored seven tries in total to keep themselves in third place, one point behind Glasgow.
Cardiff won in Ireland for the first time in 16 months as they came from behind to beat Connacht 22-15 at the Sportsground. The Welsh region profited from a penalty try and two touchdowns from Lewis Jones and Dan Fish as they completed a fine comeback for their fourth straight RaboDirect PRO12 win.
Table-toppers Leinster were made to fight tooth and nail for a 22-20 win over Ulster which puts them on the verge of securing a home semi-final. Ulster's losing bonus point brought them a guaranteed place in the play-offs which could actually see the sides clash again.
It was a huge effort from Ulster who were forced to play most of the game with 14 men after losing Tom Court to a red card - their second sending off in as many home games after Jared Payne's dismissal against Saracens last month - early in the first half.
Leinster, though, were down to 13 men at one point in that first half after Rob Kearney and Rhys Ruddock were shown yellow by English referee Luke Pearce. Shane Jennings scored Leinster's only try of the night in the second half while Ian Madigan kicked four penalties and a conversion - though he missed three kicks at goal - while replacement Jimmy Gopperth nailed a penalty.
Man of the Match Paddy Jackson scored all Ulster's points, on the night the new Ravenhill was officially opened, with five penalties and a try on an emotional occasion as skipper Johann Muller and Court played their last games at the ground.
Scarlets sealed their place in the top flight of European competition for next season with a 34-23 bonus point win over the Newport Gwent Dragons at Parc y Scarlets. Scarlets had only needed only two points to book their European slot, and tries from Jake Ball, Gareth Davies, Jordan Williams and Ken Owens, as well as 14 points from the boot of fly-half Rhys Priestland, were enough for them to secure the all-important sixth place in the league.
Wing Tommy Seymour scored a hat-trick as Glasgow went level on points with Leinster following a bonus point 38-16 win over Treviso. Warriors stand-off Finn Russell weighed in with three penalties and three conversions, prop Gordon Reid scored a try and Mark Bennett was also on the scorecard from the penalty tee as the visitors romped to victory despite a late penalty try for the home side.
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