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Pro14

Leinster Battle Past Stubborn Zebre

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster survived a comeback from Zebre with a couple of late scores of their own to run out 40-24 winners at the Stadio Luigi Zaffanella on Saturday.

With the away side naming a strong team, some thought that this could be a walk-over as Zebre currently sit bottom of Conference A and have lost all 11 of their previous meetings with Leinster.

The strength of the visitor’s side showed in the opening stages of the match and they raced into a 21-0 lead within 21 minutes.

Max Deegan scored the first try of the game after six minutes, getting over following a rolling maul. Ross Bryne converted to make it 7-0.

Another six minutes on and their lead was doubled. Young Mullingar centre Conor O’Brien was at the core of a fine passing move that ended with Byrne sending Dave Kearney in for try number two. Again, Byrne struck the extras.

Byrne then found himself scoring a seven pointer after a fine pass from Jamison Gibson-Park allowing him to touch down before he added another two points to his tally.

Zebre held through 10 minutes with only 14 men on the pitch as Jimmy Tuivaiti was sent to the bin and held Leinster scoreless through that period.

At that stage it looked as though Leinster could be heading towards a cricket score win only for Zebre to come to life in the final 10 minutes of the first-half.

A knock-on in midfield lead to Francois Brummer to score the hosts opening try, which Carlo Canna converted to make it a 14-point game.

Two minutes later and they were through again. This time Jamie Elliott intercepted and raced in for the try, Canna made it two kicks from two and it was 21-14.

In the 37th minute it looked as though Zebre had completed the most remarkable of comebacks, as Gabriele Di Giulio went over for try number three, although Canna missed the kick.

All of which meant they went in at 21-19 at half-time.

The visitors got back on track in the second-half, as man of the match, Gibson-Park was instrumental once more to get captain Scott Fardy over to secure the bonus-point. Byrne made it 28-19 with 25 minutes remaining.

On the hour mark, Zebre bounced-back again, with Brummer going in for his second try of the game and his team’s fourth, securing a bonus-point. The conversion was missed leaving the score at 28-24 heading into the final quarter.

O’Brien settled Leinster nerves in the 74th minute as he got in for a well-deserved try. The extras were missed this time but gave them a 33-24 lead.

Deegan finished what he started in the final minute. Substitute Michael Bent set-up the youngster for his second try, with Byrne kicking the conversion once more and the reigning champions marched to a hard-fought 40-24 victory.

After the game, captain Fardy spoke about his delight with winning but admitted his frustration at allowing the opposition back into the game.

“To go out to 21 nil we’re pretty disappointed in probably that second-half of the first-half, the second 20 minutes was probably not up to our standard, but we dug in there in the second-half and happy to come away from Zebre with a result,” he said.

The win means that Leinster have extended their lead at the top of Conference B to 22 points, ahead of second-placed Edinburgh, while Zebre remain bottom of Conference A with only 17 points overall.

Leinster will host the Southern Kings in their next game and hope to build on their incredible lead at the top. Zebre head to Ulster next but will take some encouragement from the spirit shown in their performance against one of the best teams around.

Pro14

Ulster & Leinster names teams for PRO14 Clash

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster match-day squad to host Leinster tomorrow night at Kingspan Stadium has been named (kick-off 7.35pm).

Having returned from injury off the bench last Friday against Ospreys, Robert Baloucoune comes into the starting back three, joining Jacob Stockdale on the left wing and Michael Lowry at full-back. Stuart McCloskey and James Hume have retained their starting berths in midfield. John Cooney and Ian Madigan are named at half-back.

In the front row, both Eric O’Sullivan and Tom O’Toole come in to start at loosehead and tighthead prop respectively, with John Andrew retaining his place at hooker. Alan O’Connor and Kieran Treadwell will partner up in the second row. Marcell Coetzee makes his return from injury to start at Number Eight, and is named alongside Nick Timoney and skipper, Jordi Murphy.

Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu and Sean Reidy will offer forwards cover on the bench, with Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore and Rob Lyttle providing the back line options. 

Ulster team to play Leinster Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 14, Saturday 6 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 7.35pm, live on Premier Sports): 

(15-9) Michael Lowry, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stuart McCloskey, Jacob Stockdale, Ian Madigan, John Cooney.

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Kieran Treadwell, Nick Timoney, Jordi Murphy (Capt.), Marcell Coetzee.

Replacements: Adam McBurney, Andrew Warwick, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Sean Reidy, Alby Mathewson, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle.

Leinster also have announced their team.

Academy back Max O’Reilly starts at full-back for his fifth cap of the season, with try-scorer from last week Cian Kelleher on the right wing and Dave Kearney on the left. Kearney has seven tries in 12 games so far this season.

Rory O’Loughlin starts in the number 12 jersey this week, with Jimmy O’Brien wearing the number 13 outside him.

Captain McGrath is joined this week by Ross Byrne who was released by Andy Farrell to Leinster during the week.

Ed Byrne is another released back to Leinster and he starts at loosehead, with James Tracy at hooker and Michael Bent at tighthead.

Devin Toner and Scott Fardy are the second row combination for Cullen’s side for the second week in a row, as Toner gets ever closer to Gordon D’Arcy’s all-time Leinster caps record of 261.

In the back row, Rhys Ruddock and Josh van der Flier are the final two available to Cullen having been released back to the province and they start at blindside and openside, with Guinness Man of the Match from last week, Scott Penny, completing the starting XV for Leinster Rugby.

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6 Nations

Cian Healy signs short term extension

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Ireland and Leinster loosehead prop Cian Healy has signed a 1 year extension to his IRFU contract up to the end of the 2021/22 season.

Cian is Ireland’s most capped prop forward having lined out for Ireland on 107 occasions to date. He made his Ireland debut against Australia in November 2009 and was selected for the 2013 British and Irish Lions tour of Australia making two appearances before injury ended his involvement.

Cian has won three Six Nations titles with Ireland and represented Leinster on 226 occasions winning four Heineken Cup titles during his career in blue.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Cian has been a cornerstone of both the Irish and Leinster packs for over a decade.  He has shown incredible resilience to come back from serious injury and perform at the highest level.  Cian has a lot to contribute to Irish Rugby and we are delighted that he has signed on for another year.”

Cian Healy, commented,

“My drive for success at both Leinster and Ireland is as strong as ever.  I am lucky enough to currently be part to two teams with the same mentality which is special and I look forward to another season of pushing boundaries and achieving our goals.

I’m loving my rugby as much now as I did at the very start of my career and looking forward to having our supporters back in stadia.”

Article from Irish Rugby

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6 Nations

O’Mahony Signs Contract Extension with IRFU

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Ireland and Munster backrow Peter O’Mahony has signed a two year extension to his IRFU contract keeping him at Munster until 2023.

Peter made his Ireland debut in the Six Nations against Italy in 2012 and has gone on to win 74 caps and captain his country on eight occasions.  A Lions tourist in 2017, Peter captained the Lions in the opening Test of the series against New Zealand.

Peter has represented Munster on 141 occasions becoming captain of his province in 2013 at the age of 24.

David Nucifora, IRFU Performance Director, commented,

“Peter has played a leadership role in Munster from an early age and is one of the senior leaders in the national squad.  He is a competitor and passionate about playing for both Ireland and Munster.”

Peter O’Mahony, commented,

“It’s a huge privilege to sign on with the province and country I’ve grown up in and dreamed of playing for. It’s been something I’ve been very open about saying from day one and its very pleasing to be able to continue the journey for two more years.

There’s a huge amount of responsibility that comes with representing both teams and I understand how much pressure there is to deliver silverware, however, I am incredibly enthusiastic on the position and competitiveness of both Munster and Ireland and I look forward to hopefully contributing to both, to succeed in delivering that success on the pitch.”

Irish Rugby

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