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Benetton Snatch Late Draw at Leinster

Benetton picked up draw at the RDS to keep their play-off dreams alive

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Photo By David Fitzgerald/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Benetton Treviso claimed a moral boosting last-minute 27-27 draw against Leinster at the RDS on Saturday night.

The Italian side have shown massive signs of improvement this season and this result only proved that more as they took points away from Dublin for the second year in a row. Following a 17-15 win against the blues last season.

Benetton got off to the perfect start with Luca Bigi touching down after 12 minutes, Tommaso Allan converted, and the visitors were 7-0 up.

Leinster responded well with Noel Reid kicking a penalty three minutes later to make it 7-3. However, within three minutes of that kick Allan slotted home three points of his own to give his side a seven-point lead once more.

Noel Reid went off injured, but replacement Ciaran Frawley took up where he left off, knocking over a penalty to reduce the deficit on 25 minutes.

Another penalty from the boot of Allan just before the 40-minute mark left it at 13-6 to Benetton at half-time.

Leinster needed a big response and drew first blood in the second-half as James Lowe barrelled his way over the line after some great work from captain Luke McGrath and man of the match Max Deegan.

Frawley sent the extras between the posts and it was all level.

The Italian outfit were out in front again on 53 minutes when Federico Ruzza scored from close range and Allan was perfect from the tee once more to leave it at 20-13.

Roll on 10 minutes and the men in blue were level as Bryan Byrne found the whitewash and Frawley converted.

Leinster took the lead for the first time in the 70th minute through Frawley, after he was put through a gap by a lovely Conor O’Brien pass. Frawley converted his own try to push the home side 27-20 ahead.

However, Benetton had the final say as winger Iliesa Ratuva punished a couple of missed tackles to run in for a try with the clock in red. Allan held his nerve to convert and it finished all square at 27-27.

After the game Leinster head coach Leo Cullen applauded his side’s effort in the second-half as they lost both Reid and Mick Kearney to injury in the opening 40.

“In the second-half I though the effort from our guys was really good. I thought you could see how much it meant to them and it was a big chance for a lot of guys,” he said.

The result means Leinster have failed to win their last two Pro14 matches but they have managed to give a lot of younger players a chance to play since claiming first place in Conference B. The draw leaves Benetton only two points off second-placed Ulster in the conference and in with a real shout of reaching the play-offs for the first time.

Match Highlights:

Pro14

Guinness PRO14 make exciting statement regarding SA Rugby

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Getty Images - Sportsfile - Brendan Macken

The Guinness PRO14 this morning made the below statement regarding SA Rugby and the PRO14 which contains exciting news for the competition and South African Rugby.

Statement begins.

“On August 25, PRO14 Rugby acknowledged that under current international travel restrictions it is not possible for South African teams to fulfil Guinness PRO14 fixtures until 2021.

PRO14 Rugby welcomes the news that the South African Rugby Union (SA Rugby) has been able to arrange a domestic schedule for its professional teams and that this is the first step in the return of their teams to on-field action.

SA Rugby’s long-standing commitments are to field two teams in the Guinness PRO14 and in light of the withdrawal of the Southern Kings, discussions are on-going about fulfilling this agreement from 2021 using a replacement team from its current professional franchises.

Additionally, both PRO14 Rugby and SA Rugby are in early discussions about potentially expanding the tournament and deepening our partnership to include more South African franchises from 2021.”

Statement ends.

The board of SA Super Rugby (Pty) Ltd – which trades as the Southern Kings placed the insolvent company into voluntary liquidation to secure the longer-term financial future of rugby in Eastern Province.

The shareholders – the Eastern Province Rugby Union (EPRU) and SA Rugby – took the decision in the face of an accumulated deficit of R55m, and with zero income in prospect for the remainder of 2020.

The loss of the Southern Kings will not be seen as a huge loss to the competition with them rarely upsetting the Betway odds.

Active discussions are ongoing with other South African teams to fill the void left by the Kings and also the potential of adding further franchises to expand the league.

PRO14 confirmed in August that the South African based sides will not play in the PRO14 for the rest of this calendar year, missing the start of the 2020-21 season, but PRO14 are still hopeful they will be able to compete in the 2020/21 season.

The remaining 12 teams from Wales, Ireland, Scotland and Italy will begin the new campaign in early October with the first round of 11 fixtures not involving the South African sides. It’s no surprise who the bookies favourites are for next season, and surely this will drive many fans to place bets on Rugby at Betway hoping for their side to come out on top.

As a result of COVID-19 and the impact it is has had and will have on rugby’s global competition structures, the PRO14 is the most likely home for more South African teams.

Over the last few months New Zealand Rugby has plans for their future club pathway did not include the Bulls, Lions, Stormers or Sharks.

An interesting few months certainly ly ahead.

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Pro14

Ringrose to captain Leinster v Ulster

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Leinster Rugby team, as sponsored by Bank of Ireland, to face Ulster Rugby in the Final of the Guinness PRO14 tomorrow in the Aviva Stadium has been named by Leinster Head Coach Leo Cullen (KO 7.35pm – live on eir Sport, TG4 & RTÉ Radio).

Cullen has made a number of changes from the team that accounted for Munster Rugby in the semi-final with Garry Ringrose named as captain of the senior side for the first time.

The back three is the same that started against Munster last week with Jordan Larmour selected at full back having come through the graduated return to play protocols successfully this week and Hugo Keenan on the right wing and James Lowe on the left.

Robbie Henshaw is again selected at inside centre with captain Ringrose outside him in the number 13 jersey.

Ringrose made his Leinster debut in September 2015 on the wing against Cardiff Blues and tomorrow’s Guinness PRO14 Final will be his 75th appearance in a Leinster jersey. In that time he has scored 25 tries and has 29 Ireland caps to his name.

The half back partnership sees Jamison Gibson-Park and Ross Byrne start at nine and 10.

In the pack there is no change in the front row with Cian Healy, Rónan Kelleher and Andrew Porter again selected. In winning his 219th cap, Cian Healy joins Leo Cullen and Rob Kearney as the joint 4th most capped player in Leinster history.

James Ryan has recovered from injury to take his place in the second row alongside Devin Toner.

Finally in the back row, Guinness Player of the Match from last week Caelan Doris is again selected at blindside flanker with Josh van der Flier at openside and finally Jack Conan is selected in the number eight jersey.

Leinster Rugby (caps in brackets):

15. Jordan Larmour (48)
14. Hugo Keenan (16)
13. Garry Ringrose (74) CAPTAIN
12. Robbie Henshaw (46)
11. James Lowe (45)
10. Ross Byrne (87)
9. Jamison Gibson-Park (91)
1. Cian Healy (218)
2. Rónan Kelleher (13)
3.Andrew Porter (64)
4. Devin Toner (247)
5. James Ryan (37)
6. Caelan Doris (31)
7. Josh van der Flier (82)
8. Jack Conan (91)

16. James Tracy (109)
17. Ed Byrne (55)
18. Michael Bent (138)
19. Scott Fardy (60)
20. Will Connors (18)
21. Luke McGrath (125)
22. Johnny Sexton (165)
23. Rory O’Loughlin (69)

Referee: Andrew Brace (IRFU)

Press Release from Leinster Rugby

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Pro14

Ulster make big changes for Leinster Final

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Ulster Head Coach, Dan McFarland, has confirmed the match-day squad for Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 Final versus Leinster (Aviva Stadium, 7.35pm).

The Ulster men will be boosted by the return of club captain, Iain Henderson, who will be making his first appearance since the season resumption, and is one of four changes to the side that defeated Edinburgh in last week’s thrilling Semi-Final at BT Murrayfield.

Alan O’Connor will partner Henderson in the second row, while the front row of Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring and Tom O’Toole is retained. The back row sees one change, with Sean Reidy coming into the starting line-up at openside flanker. Matthew Rea takes the blindside flanker position and Marcell Coetzee packs down at number eight.

The back three sees two positional switches, with Jacob Stockdale moving to the left wing, while Rob Lyttle swaps over to the right. Joining them at full-back is Michael Lowry, returning to the starting XV. Stuart McCloskey – who, along with John Cooney, was named in the Guinness PRO14 Dream Team earlier this week – continues his midfield partnership with James Hume. All Black scrum-half, Alby Mathewson, will make his first start for Ulster alongside Billy Burns at fly-half.

McFarland has opted for a 6-2 split on the bench where John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy and Nick Timoney will offer the forward backup, and the backline cover is provided by John Cooney and Ian Madigan.

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Final, Aviva Stadium, Saturday 12 September (7.35pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Rob Lyttle, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Billy Burns, Alby Mathewson.

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, Rob Herring, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.), Matthew Rea, Sean Reidy, Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements (16-23): John Andrew, Jack McGrath, Marty Moore, Sam Carter, Jordi Murphy, John Cooney, Ian Madigan, Nick Timoney.

Press Release from Ulster Rugby

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