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Leinster Survive Scarlets Challenge to Hold on for Win

Both teams put in a good showing without a host of regulars with Leinster coming out on top

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Leinster withstood large periods of pressure to secure a 22-17 win over the Scarlets, in the RDS on Friday night.

The win moves Leinster 21 points clear at the top of conference B at least overnight while the Scarlets remain in fourth.

On a night when both teams were missing the vast majority of their star men, it was the Scarlets that put the pressure on early.

They built up phases only to be let down by loose passes forward and knock-ons which caused the game to stop and start.

An injury to Scarlet’s David Bulbring brought the game to a halt in the first half.

Leinster registered the opening score of the game in the 31st minute through a Ciaran Frawley penalty.

They went into the break 10-0 up thanks to a bit of fortune. Mick Kearney had a loose pass picked up by Conor O’Brien, who released to centre partner Rory O’Loughlin, who in turn dodged tackles from Johnny McNicholl and Phil Price to go over for the game’s opening try.

Ciaran Frawley added the extras before they left the field,

The Scarlets once more started the half well and were rewarded in the 52nd minute. Dan Davis broke away from Rob Kearney on halfway, before passing to Kieran Hardy to touch down.

Dan Jones slotted home the conversion, before bringing the sides level on the hour mark with a penalty.

With 11 minutes remaining the home side scored again through James Lowe, with replacement and fellow Kiwi, Jamison Gibson-Park setting him up. However, Frawley missed the chance of putting seven between the two missing the kick.

Four minutes on substitute Vakh Abdaladze broke into the Scarlets 22, with fellow sub Noel Reid kicking, ahead for Barry Daly to cross the whitewash. Frawley kicked over the conversion this time to mwhitewash10.

Scarlets ensured a nervy finish scoring a minute later with Kieran Hardy completing his brace thanks to fine work from McNicholl. Dan Jones converted to put five between the teams with five minutes left.

However, Leinster kept the Scarlets out to hold on for the win and maintain their 100% home record this season.

After the game Scarlets head coach Wayne Pivac reflected on his sides missed opportunities in the opening half.

“We created some opportunities in the first half and didn’t convert. We had three clean line-breaks and need to convert at least one of those. So, to be 10 points down at half time was pretty disappointing,” he said.

The loss will be tough on the Scarlets who will feel it was one that got away, but they must pick themselves up as they head to current second placed Treviso next.

Leinster head to Zebre as they look to continue their quest for back to back titles.

Pro14

Scotland Ace Signs Contract Extension

One of Scotland’s key men has decided to put pen to paper on a new deal with his current club

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(Photo by Ian MacNicol/Getty Images)

Scotland lock Ben Toolis has signed a new contract with current club Edinburgh ahead of the Six Nations with the national side.

The 27-year-old is included in Scotland’s Six Nations squad and has 22-caps to his name at the moment. Meanwhile at club-level Toolis has made over 100 appearances for Edinburgh since his debut in 2013. 

Speaking on the new deal Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill admitted he is delighted to have the Brisbane-born lock on board for the foreseeable future. 

“Ben is one of the most athletic locks in the league, while his ability and leadership at the lineout is key to the way we play. We are delighted to see him re-sign, and I’ve got no doubt that he will continue to be a big player for this club in the years to come,” he said to the club’s website. 

The length of the deal have not been announced, but it is a boost for both club and country as his stock continues to rise. 

Toolis will be hoping that he can continue his partnership with Grant Gilchrist in the upcoming Six Nations with the squad currently preparing to face Ireland in their opening game on February 1st.

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Pro14

Former Welsh Ace to Hang Up Boots

One of Wales’ former stars has confirmed that he will retire from rugby come the end of the current season

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(Photo by Athena Pictures/Getty Images)

Former Wales back James Hook has announced that he will be calling time on his professional rugby career come the end of the current season.

Hook is contracted to the Ospreys, but with his deal set to end at the end of the campaign he has decided the time has come to pull the curtain on a professional career spanning 16 years. 

“It’s sad but something I’m really looking forward to. It comes to everyone at some point and now it’s time for me. I’ve had lots of highlights, winning Grand Slam titles and Six Nations and going on the Lions tour in 2009. Then signing my first professional contract was a big moment for me. Growing up I always aspired to be a professional rugby player. You never think it’ll actually happen so when it did it really was amazing,” he said in a post on social media. 

The 34-year old picked up a total of 81-caps for Wales to go along with his 148 appearances for the Ospreys. 

As well as his time with the Welsh region Hook had spells at both Top 14 side Perpignan and English Premiership outfit Gloucester between his stints at the Ospreys. 

Hook has admitted he hopes to continue his rugby journey off the pitch, but that he is also looking forward to having more time to spend with his family after such a long time on the playing field. 

“I want to stay involved in the game, particularly working on the skills, like I do now with the young kickers and the age-grade sides, and I’m hoping to finish my level three coaching qualification. It’ll be nice to spend time with my family, my three young boys and my wife. It’s going to be sad not playing at the end of the season, but you’ve got to be positive and look on the bright side and I’m looking forward to what’s next,” he added. 

As well as his rugby career Hook has also written a series of children’s books that are set to be released later this year and that could provide him with something else to venture into if they are successful. 

However, for now he will be hoping that he can help the Ospreys turn around their disastrous season to date before he hangs his boots up for good. 

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Champions Cup

Connacht Set to Lose Big Star

Connacht look set to without one of their key men next season according to reports as he appears set for a move

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Connacht look as though they will have to deal without flanker Colby Fainga’a next season as he appears to be set for a move to French side Lyon according to Irish outlet the42.

They are reporting that the former Rebels man is the Top 14 side’s preferred replacement for the departing Liam Gill, who will leave at the end of this season. 

Connacht were keen to keep their players’ player of the year from last season and had entered contract talks to extend his deal past the original two years, but with talks stalling Lyon have come in with a reported offer of 300,000 euro a season which would be hard to refuse. 

The 28-year-old would be a huge loss to the western province having been such a massive influence since his arrival in 2018. 

However, more positive news for fans is that the back-rower is set to return from a knee injury this weekend against Toulouse, to help Connacht during a period where injuries have severely hampered them. 

It is understood that Connacht would like to replace Fainga’a with another overseas star, but for now they will hope to get the most out of the Aussie between now and the end of the season.

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