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Leinster Edge Past 14-Man Benetton

Leinster have opened their PRO14 campaign with on a perfect note in Italy

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(Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Leinster defeated a spirited Benetton side 32-27 on Saturday evening to kick start their bid for three PRO14 titles in a row with a win.

A Dave Kearney hat-trick along with a try from fellow winger Adam Byrne saw the away team over the line in what was a tough game against a Benetton side that played with only 14-men for the last 30 minutes of the clash. 

The reigning champions started well with fly-half Ross Byrne knocking over a three minute penalty.

However, things were only to get better for the visitors ten minutes later as the men in blue spread the ball out wide, where Rory O’Loughlin brilliantly dragged in a couple of defenders before passing to Adam Byrne to touch down. Bryne slotted over the extras and it was 10-0. 

The hosts hit back straight away and were in for a try of their own on 20 minutes as Derrick Appiah got over. Former Munster man Ian Keatley kicked the conversion to make it 10-7 tp Leinster. 

Five minutes later and the Italian side were in front as hooker Tomas Baravalle barrelled over from a driving maul following a line-out. Again, Keatley was perfect off the tee and suddenly the hosts were 14-0 ahead. 

Leinster had the last laugh of the half though despite being under pressure from Benetton for most of the last 15 minutes. 

Some great play in the middle of the pitch led to Adam Byrne sending a long pass out to Kearney, who kicked over the top and regathered the ball before driving over the line. After some discussion with the TMO the try was awarded. Byrne converted from the right with the last kick of the half as the Leinster went in with their noses 17-14 in front. 

In the second-half it was the hosts that opened the scoring as Keatley took full advantage of a penalty three minutes in. 

Benetton were dealt a huge blow in the 49th minute however when winger Ratuva Tavuyara was sent off after colliding with Kearney in the air. 

Leinster took little time to make their man advantage count as two minutes later they were in the opposition 22, where Jamison Gibson-Park sent a looping pass over to Kearney on the left-wing. The winger dived over in the corner for his second try of the game, Byrne failed to add the extras leaving the game at 22-17. 

Despite being down to 14-men it was Benetton who looked the better side after the try and within two minutes of the hour mark they went ahead courtesy of another Keatley penalty, followed by a try from substitute Luco Sperandio which Keatley converted putting them 27-22 up heading into the final quarter. 

With fourteen minutes remaining Leinster were back in front as Kearney got in for his hat-trick in the left-corner after some nice work from the away side in the opposition 22 and securing a bonus-point in the process. Byrne’s fine conversion from the touchline was what nudged Leinster 29-27 ahead. 

As the clock ticked towards the final five minutes Leinster got a vital score as Ross Byrne’s younger brother Harry kicked a penalty over to push them five clear of their hosts.

That turned out to be the last score of the game as the reigning back to back champions kick started their campaign with a 32-27 win. 

Leinster will look to continue their winning ways when they host the Ospreys on Friday night, while Benetton will hope to get their opening win of the season when they travel to Connacht the following day. 

Leinster Player Ratings

Starting XV: 

Jimmy O’Brien (6), Adam Byrne (7), Rory O’Loughlin (8), Joe Tomane (7), Dave Kearney (9), Ross Byrne (8), Jamison Gibson-Park (7); Peter Dooley (6), Rónan Kelleher (6), Michael Bent (7), Ross Molony (7), Devin Toner (7), Max Deegan (7), Will Connors (6), Caelan Doris (8)

Replacements (6)

Pro14

RG Snyman On Joining Munster Rugby

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(Photo By Brendan Moran/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster Rugby’s summer signing RG Snyman spoke to the media remotely via conference call on Tuesday for the first time since joining the province.

The World Cup winner covered a wide range of topics, check out a few snippets from the press conference below.

Moving from Japan to Munster Rugby…

“The biggest reason I came here was coach Johann. I’ve worked with him in the past and I know the quality of coach he is.

“I haven’t worked under him that much before, even though I know him a long time. But I do know that he’s a quality coach. Speaking to anyone that has ever worked with him, it’s only positive [things that they say].

“I really enjoyed my time in Japan. From a career perspective, I thought it was a better move to come over to Munster and work under coach Johann to keep moving forward and keep improving.

“I still think I need to work on the smaller details from a technical side and working under him is great for that because he is very technical and his off-field work is very detailed.”

Adapting to European rugby…

“I think the rugby here in the northern hemisphere is very physical so I’m looking forward to that. Broadening my game a bit set-piece wise, that’s something I’m looking forward to as well.

“I think the weather will play a big part in the games. I’ve noticed the last couple of weeks at training that it’s not as easy to hold onto the ball as it is in South Africa or even Japan.

“I will have to adapt to it a little bit but I think it’s ok, I can work around it.”

Familiarising yourself in new surroundings…

“We have mainly seen the places around Limerick and we went to Dublin for a few days and I’ve actually seen the Aviva Stadium as well so it’s nice to see where we’re going later this month.”

Springboks team-mate Damian de Allende…

“I actually didn’t know he was coming as well [when I signed]! I’m very happy because he’s a great guy and he’s a hard-working player as well and I’m looking forward to seeing some good collisions from him.”

Watch our first interview with RG from last month below along with some highlights from his career so far below.

Video | Introducing RG Snyman

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Pro14

Connacht Rugby announce signings of Ben O’Donnell and Abraham Papali’i

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Connacht Rugby are delighted to announce the signings of Australian 7s player Ben O’Donnell and Bay of Plenty Number 8 Abraham Papali’i.
 
The pair will link up with the squad before the start of the 2020/21 Guinness PRO14 season.
 
Ben O’Donnell joins from the Australian Sevens programme, having played 95 matches for his country since he was handed his debut in 2017 under Andy Friend. The 24-year old went on to score 47 tries in that time and has been a key figure in their progression through the World Rugby Seven Series over the past three seasons.
 
O’Donnell was voted Australian Sevens Player of the year in 2018 and subsequently went on to be the first Australian player ever nominated for the World Sevens Player of the Year.
 
New Zealander Abraham Papali’i arrives from Bay of Plenty where he was a key member of the squad that won the Mitre 10 Cup Championship last year. The Auckland-born duel code player started his Rugby Union career with North Harbour before being recruited into the New Zealand Warriors (Rugby League) pathway. In 2015 Papali’i signed a two year contract with the Sydney Roosters of the Australian National Rugby League (NRL).
 
Following his time with the Roosters, Papali’i joined Lézignan Sangliers in the premier French Rugby League competition before the 6’4” number 8 returned to New Zealand and successfully restarted his Rugby Union career with Bay of Plenty.
 
Head Coach Andy Friend says today’s announcement is a significant boost ahead of the return to rugby.
 
“I am delighted to welcome Ben and Abraham to Connacht Rugby.
 
I got to know Ben very well on the Australian Sevens scene. It did not surprise me that he went on to become such an important player for them and I am thrilled that he has chosen to join Connacht.
 
Abraham is a powerful number 8 who has all the attributes to become a really valuable player for us while furthering our options in the back row. I know every Connacht supporter will be excited to see what he can offer.”

 
Friend expressed his excitement about the announcement and what the squad can achieve in the upcoming season.
 
“Today’s announcement comes on the back of discussions that started a number of months ago and we are delighted to eventually be able to share this exciting news with all of our supporters today.
 
These signings bring our squad up to 43 players for next season. We have freshened up and added depth to our squad in a number of key areas, having signed a healthy blend of young exciting players who have come through our Academy system as well as bringing in some additional quality and experience from further afield.
 
We are an ambitious group and I firmly believe we have all the tools we need to kick on to the next level and achieve success in what is going to be a really exciting season.”

Press Release from Connacht Rugby

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Pro14

Connacht raid Provincial rivals. 4 new signings confirmed.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Connacht Rugby have today confirmed the signings of Munster duo Sammy Arnold and Conor Oliver, and Leinster pair Jack Aungier and Oisin Dowling.

The quartet will become Connacht Rugby players from July 1st with Arnold, Dowling and Aungier penning two-year deals.

Irish international Sammy Arnold has made 44 appearances for Munster since joining the province from Ulster in 2016, scoring 8 tries in the process. The 24-year-old centre has been named both Ulster Academy Player of the Year and Munster Young Player of the Year, and made his International debut against USA in the 2018 Autumn Internationals.

Back row Conor Oliver has featured 28 times for Munster since making his debut in February 2016 and was named Munster Academy Player of the Year the following season. The 24-year-old can play on either flanks or as a number 8, expanding the coaching team’s options heading into the new season.

Oliver and Arnold both featured for Ireland in the 2015 World Rugby U20 Championship, who were then coached by current Connacht Attack Coach Nigel Carolan.

Jack Aungier made his Leinster senior debut last November and has gone on to make 5 appearances for the side in the current Guinness PRO14 season. The prop has also impressed at underage level, featuring for the Ireland U20s and U18 Clubs squad.

Oisin Dowling arrives from the Leinster Rugby Academy having played 6 times for the senior squad in the past two seasons. The 6’5’’ lock has also been capped at Irish U20 level.

Commenting on today’s announcement, Head Coach Andy Friend says all four players can make significant contributions to the squad ahead of the new season.

In Sammy, Conor, Oisin and Jack we have secured the signings of four very talented and promising young Irish rugby players. They each have unique skillsets which will enhance our squad for next season and beyond, and will allow us to continue to grow as a program. We’re all looking forward to welcoming them to The Sportsground and integrating them into our playing squad.

Press Release from Irish Rugby

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