.@Ross__Byrne kicks the extras to finish out the game here in Viadana! Thanks as always to the @OLSCRugby traveling support! See you all next Friday! pic.twitter.com/9tp8lNwaQL— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) February 16, 2019
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.
Three tries in the last ten minutes have dragged Zebre right back into this game. Leinster with the advantage still as we head into the break. #ZEBvLEI pic.twitter.com/4nWJvxTNdG— Leinster Rugby (@leinsterrugby) February 16, 2019
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
Scarlets provide updates on Williams & Owens
Liam Williams has recovered from a foot injury that has prevented him playing for the Scarlets so far this season. He has been released from the Wales squad to train with the Scarlets ahead of Friday’s Guinness PRO14 clash with Benetton.
Ken Owens has undergone surgery on the shoulder injury he sustained against Glasgow and it is expected he will be unavailable for three to four months.
Josh Macleod has started his rehabilitation for a hamstring injury sustained against Glasgow. He will be targeting a return to play in December.
Scarlets also confirmed that Sam Lousi has been banned for a period of four weeks as a result of his red card in the Guinness PRO14 clash with Glasgow Warriors.
Lousi was shown a red card by referee Frank Murphy (IRFU) under Law 9.13 – a Player must not tackle an opponent early, late, or dangerously. Dangerous tackling includes, but is not limited to, tackling, or attempting to tackle an opponent above the line of the shoulder even if the tackle starts below the line of the shoulders.
The disciplinary hearing was handled by Roddy Dunlop (Scotland) and it was accepted that the player’s actions warranted a red card for foul play. The incident was deemed a mid-range offence, which carries a six-week suspension.
Due to the player’s previous disciplinary record (red card for punching incident, February 2020) the judicial officer could not offer full mitigation therefore, resulting in a four-week suspension.
Lousi is free to resume playing from midnight on November 9, 2020
Marcus Rea to start for Ulster v Ospreys
The 23-year-old – who was Player of the Match in his sole previous Ulster appearance as a replacement against Leinster in April 2019 – has been named at openside flanker. Marcus’s older brother Matty – Player of the Match in last weekend’s bonus point win over Benetton – is named alongside him at blindside, with Marcell Coetzee once again packing down at number eight.
Jack McGrath, Rob Herring and Marty Moore have been given the front row starting berths, and Alan O’Connor has been selected along with captain Iain Henderson in the second row.
Matt Faddes returns to the starting side on the right wing and will join Jacob Stockdale at full-back and Rob Lyttle on the left wing. Last week’s midfield duo of Stewart Moore and James Hume has been retained. Ian Madigan comes in to start at fly-half, pairing with John Cooney at scrum-half.
The coaching team has opted for a 6-2 bench split. Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones and Sean Reidy provide the forward options, with David Shanahan and Louis Ludik offering back line cover.
Ulster team to play Ospreys Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 2, Saturday 10 October 2020, at Liberty Stadium (kick-off 5.15pm, live on Premier Sports):
(15-9) Jacob Stockdale, Matt Faddes, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Ian Madigan, John Cooney. (1-8) Jack McGrath, Rob Herring, Marty Moore, Alan O’Connor, Iain Henderson (Capt.) , Matthew Rea, Marcus Rea, Marcell Coetzee. Replacements: Adam McBurney, Eric O’Sullivan, Gareth Milasinovich, Kieran Treadwell, Greg Jones, David Shanahan, Louis Ludik, Sean Reidy.
Munster confirm COVID-19 case. Training suspended.
Munster Rugby have been assisting a senior player who has tested positive for Covid-19.
The latest PCR testing carried out on Monday at the HPC has returned a positive result for a player who is asymptomatic. To remove any doubt of a potential false positive the player will be retested tomorrow.
The individual, who was not part of the travelling group at the weekend, and six other players identified by Munster Rugby as potential close contacts, are currently self-isolating.
This approach of identifying possible close contacts is in line with the caution we have taken to this issue, these players may not be deemed close contacts by the HSE.
As a precautionary measure, the squad and academy will not train at the HPC today.
The HSE have been notified for contract tracing purposes.
Munster Rugby Head of Medical, Dr Jamie Kearns, said: “As an immediacy we are taking every precaution by standing down training today.
“We are going to complete another round of PCR testing tomorrow so that we can return to training on Thursday.
“Our priority is to ensure the health and safety of our players and staff, and we will continue to work closely with both the IRFU and HSE in this regard.”
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