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Pro14

Leinster Cruise to Victory Once Again

Leinster have continued their winning start to the 2019/20 PRO14 season with yet another impressive performance

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(Photo By Harry Murphy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster have made it three bonus-point wins from three games at the start of the PRO14 season with a 40-14 victory over Edinburgh at the RDS tonight.

Tries from man of the match Jamison Gibson-Park, Michael Bent, Caelan Doris, Scott Penny, Vakh Abdaladze and Rowan Osbourne saw the hosts claim another impressive run-away win following their 53-5 dismissal of the Ospreys last weekend. 

Leinster had the best chances in the opening minutes, as Edinburgh struggled to get out of their own half. However, despite receiving two kickable penalties inside ten minutes Ross Byrne couldn’t find the target. 

Sandwiched in between the two penalty misses was a disallowed try as the hosts failed to make their territory count, but that changed in the 16th minute. Following a lovely break down the right by Dave Kearney, he tried a pass back inside to a teammate, but the ball instead hit James Lowe in the face inches out from the line. 

Gibson-Park pounced on the ball as it bounced over the try-line and after a TMO check the hosts had their first points of the game. Although Byrne was once again off colour from the tee leaving it at just 5-0. 

Edinburgh came roaring back, camping inside the Leinster 22 for the next 15 minutes, winning penalty after penalty at scrum-time. Eventually the hosts had Bent sent to the sin-bin for 10 minutes and a couple of minutes on things got worse. 

Following a number of scrums the Scottish side managed to get the ball out to the right-hand side where they found themselves in a two on two situation that miss as winger James Farndale dived in for the try. 

If Leinster thought things couldn’t get worse they were proved wrong as centre Joe Tomane followed Bent to the sin-bin after he slid into Farndale knee-first as the winger scored reducing Leinster to 13-men. Once the TMO review had taken place Jaco van der Walt knocked over the conversion to give the visitors a 7-5 lead. 

Despite their disadvantage it was Leinster that took control for the remainder of the half and just as they got back their full compliment of players Bent barged over from close-range deep into the red zone and Byrne added the extras to give the hosts a 12-7 half-time lead. 

Leinster began the second-half as they ended the first and just three minutes in they were over for their third try of the game with Doris barrelling over close to the line. Byrne made no mistake with his kick to push them further in front. 

Five minutes on and the hosts replicated the score with Penny the one to push over the line this time around to secure the bonus-point. Bryne smashed over the conversion from in front of the posts to make it 26-7 with less than 10 minutes gone in the second period. 

The boys in blue continued to push forward and were rewarded with little under 20 minutes left as they went through a few phases in the opposition 22 before substitute Abdaladze powered over to score his sides fifth try of the night. Byrne converted once again to give them another two points. 

Leinster only had to wait little over a minute for their sixth try as their replacements began to shine. Jimmy O’Brien took the ball at pace inside his own half and darted through a gap before offloading to Lowe, who in turn offloaded brilliantly to Osbourne as he raced over to score his first try for the province.

Ross Byrne was replaced by brother Harry in between the two scores but the result was the same from the tee making it 40-7 with 15 minutes to go. 

The visitors hit back with just under ten minutes remaining through replacement scrum-half Charlie Shiel who sprinted over off the back of a scrum five-metres out from the line. Simon Hickey converted with what turned out to be the final score of the game as it ended 40-14 to Leinster. 

Next up for the reigning back to back champions is a trip to Zebre where they will look to maintain their 100% start to the season, while Edinburgh will play host the Scarlets in round four in two weeks time. 

Leinster Player Ratings

Starting XV:

Hugo Keenan (7), Dave Kearney (7), Rory O’Loughlin (7), Joe Tomane (8), James Lowe (7), Ross Byrne (7), Jamison Gibson-Park (9); Peter Dooley (7), Rónan Kelleher (7), Michael Bent (7), Devin Toner (7), Scott Fardy (8), Max Deegan (8), Scott Penny (8), Caelan Doris (7)

Replacements (9)

Pro14

Munster confirm Zebo signing

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to announce that Simon Zebo has signed a one-year contract to return to play with the province for the 2021/22 season.

This co-funded contract will see Munster’s all-time record try-scorer return from Racing 92 and line out for his home club where he made 144 appearances and scored 60 tries between 2010 and 2018.

In his third season with the Top 14 side, the 31-year-old has played 55 times and scored 21 tries to date.

Head Coach Johann van Graan said, “The opportunity to bring Simon back to Munster came about in early April following a final review of our squad’s budgetary position for season-end and with assistance from the IRFU to support what we believe is a really good deal for Munster and Irish Rugby.

“Simon’s desire to return to Ireland and play with his home club is illustrated by his willingness to sign at a level below his market value elsewhere. This has made bringing the province’s all-time leading try-scorer back home, possible.”

Simon Zebo said, “I am thrilled and honoured to be coming back home to play for Munster. My family and I have been so lucky to have enjoyed three incredible years with Racing 92 in Paris and I cannot thank the team there enough, I really have made friends for life and take with me some brilliant memories.

“However, as everyone knows, Munster holds a very special place in my heart and I’ve always said that I wanted to play for them and potentially Ireland again, so when this opportunity arose the lure of being close to home, family and friends and Munster fans, it outweighed all other options. I cannot wait to get back to the HPC with the team and hopefully a packed Thomond Park.”

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby agree to release Coetzee early

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Marcell Coetzee has played his last game for Ulster Rugby.

With back-row, Marcell Coetzee, currently side-lined with a hamstring injury, Ulster Rugby has agreed terms which will see the player released from the club at the end of this month, ahead of his planned departure at the conclusion of the 2020/21 season.

Given the need for several weeks of rehabilitation following the injury sustained by Coetzee in last month’s Guinness PRO14 fixture against Leinster, Ulster Rugby and the player have reached a mutual agreement to part ways on Friday 30 April.

Head of Rugby Operations and Recruitment, Bryn Cunningham, said: “We have come to an agreement that will allow Marcell the time and space required to continue his rehab.

“I’d like to thank Marcell for his contribution to the province over the past five years and we wish him and wife, Chanelle the very best for their upcoming return home to South Africa.”

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Pro14

Lowry retained at 10 for Ulster v Zebre

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Photo By Oliver McVeigh/Sportsfile via Getty Images

The Ulster coaching team has named the match-day squad to host Zebre in tomorrow night’s final Guinness PRO14 regular season game (Kingspan Stadium, 8.15pm).

21-year-old, Cormac Izuchukwu will make his first start for the Ulster men as he is named in the second row alongside Kieran Treadwell. Marty Moore comes back into the starting front row at tighthead, with Eric O’Sullivan and John Andrew retaining their starting berths at loosehead and hooker. Jordi Murphy will captain the side at openside flanker, with Sean Reidy and David McCann being retained at blindside and Number Eight.

A youthful back line sees Ethan McIlroy coming into the  back three at full-back, with Rob Lyttle on the left wing and Robert Baloucoune returning on the right. Stewart Moore and James Hume will make up the midfield pairing, while John Cooney and Michael Lowry are named at half-back.

Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor and Matty Rea are the forward reinforcements, with David Shanahan, Ian Madigan and Ben Moxham providing the back line options on the bench.

Ulster team to play Zebre Rugby, Guinness PRO14 Round 16, Friday 19 March at Kingspan Stadium (kick-off 8.15pm, live on Premier Sports / eir Sport):

(15-9) Ethan McIlroy, Robert Baloucoune, James Hume, Stewart Moore, Rob Lyttle, Michael Lowry, John Cooney;

(1-8) Eric O’Sullivan, John Andrew, Marty Moore, Cormac Izuchukwu, Kieran Treadwell, Sean Reidy, Jordy Murphy (Capt.), David McCann.

Replacements: Brad Roberts, Callum Reid, Tom O’Toole, Alan O’Connor, Matty Rea, David Shanahan, Ian Madigan, Ben Moxham.

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