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Pro14

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.

6 Nations

Rory Best to retire.

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Ulster and Ireland captain Rory Best has confirmed that he will retire from professional rugby when his current contract expires after the Rugby World Cup in Japan.

Best will bow out with a hugely impressive list of honours and will go down as a legend of the modern game, having spent 15 seasons at the top level.

Rory began his rugby development at Banbridge RFC, with whom he is still involved, while he also played at Portadown College and Belfast Harlequins RFC on route to the professional game.

He made his competitive debut for Ulster in 2004 and has amassed 219 appearances to date, scoring 23 tries. He was a key member of the squad which won the Celtic League title in 2005/06.

Best is Ulster’s most-capped international with 116 appearances (10 tries) and has helped Ireland win the Six Nations Championship on four occasions, including two Grand Slam successes (one as captain).

Best’s leadership of Ireland is record-breaking; he captained Ireland to its first ever win against New Zealand in 2016 and has steered the country to second in the world rankings.

He was a member of the British & Irish Lions squad for the 2013 and 2017 tours to Australia and New Zealand respectively.

Best was appointed Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2017 Birthday Honours for services to rugby.

“It is with mixed feelings that I announce my retirement from Ulster Rugby as of the end of this season,” said Best.

“This feels like the right time for me to go out on my terms, a luxury for which I feel very privileged.

“I am very excited for the end of the season with Ulster Rugby and for the upcoming World Cup with Ireland, both of which I hope to finish with a massive high, playing at the top of my game.

“In my 15 years at this brilliant club, I have been lucky to have met, played alongside, been coached by and supported by many great people, and I would like to thank every individual for the time they have invested in me since 2004.

“I grew up supporting Ulster Rugby, have been fortunate to play and captain Ulster Rugby, and now look forward to supporting Ulster Rugby in the future with my family.”

Paying tribute to Best, Ulster’s Operations Director, Bryn Cunningham said:

“No player representing Ulster Rugby has had a more profound impact in the professional era than Rory.

“When Rory enters the room, everyone waits for his words. On the training pitch, he demands high standards at all times. During a match, players turn to Rory for leadership and direction. He has been our all-encompassing talismanic figure for more than a decade.

“Rory’s ability to not only stay at the top, but also fight his way through adversity, shows the strength of character he possesses.

“The ever-present support of the Best family on the side-lines, in particular Jodie, Ben, Penny and Richie, encapsulates Rory as the ultimate family man. We know that they will continue to follow Ulster Rugby for many years to come.

“Rory will justifiably go down as one of the greatest legends of Ulster and Irish Rugby.”

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Pro14

Ulster Rugby issue injury update for Moore & Stockdale.

Season ender.

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Photo by Warren Little/Getty Images

Their update reads:

“The Ulster Rugby medical team have issued a squad update following Friday’s Guinness PRO14 match against Edinburgh.

Marty Moore suffered a season-ending ankle ligament injury in the fixture. He will see a specialist later this week.

Jacob Stockdale sustained a hamstring injury in the same game. His recovery will be monitored on an ongoing basis.”

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Pro14

Sean Reidy: Q&A

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Photo By Charles McQuillan/Getty Images

Having recently surpassed 100 caps for Ulster, Sean Reidy has achieved another career highlight – chatting to Peter Lockhart from UlsterRugbyLad about what it’s like to play for Ulster and Ireland.

URL: What gave you your passion for rugby?

SR: It’s a way of life growing up in New Zealand all my family and friend play rugby so I jumped on the bandwagon as well. Ever since I was young I knew I wanted to play for Counties Manukau – my province.

It wasn’t till I was a bit older I realised you could do it as a job!

URL: What is the story of how you came to Ulster Rugby?

SR: I got the opportunity to a preseason trial around 5 years ago. Off the back of that I got offered a 1 year contract and I’ve been here ever since!

URL: Describe what it was like to play for Ireland.

SR: It was pretty emotional! My family has strong ties here in Ireland and the opportunity to represent those people is a real privilege.

URL: Jacob Stockdale famously plays with Lego before big games. What is the most important part of your routine on match day?

SR: Getting enough sleep in and just trying to relax as much as possible. I feel if I over-think the game too much it can be pretty draining.

URL: What are the most important qualities of a back-row player?

SR: You have to be hard-working, selfless and having a good understanding of the game.

URL: How has a failure, or apparent failure, set you up for later success?

SR: Failure is a given with every sport. The key is to learn as much as you can from those failures, move on and improve.

URL: Are there any quotes you think of often or live your life by?

SR: My wife constantly tells me to enjoy the little things in life to and not get to caught up worrying about he big picture.

URL: What goals/ambitions do you have for yourself and Ulster in the next few seasons?

SR: Just trying to help Ulster be as successful as possible. We have come along way over the past few years it’s important we keep driving forward.

URL: What was the highlight and lowlight of your career?

SR: Highlight would have to be the chance to work doing something you love everyday.

Lowlights has to be good friends you have moving on from the club you’re at.

URL: What was your favourite sports team growing up?

SR: Counties Manukau or the Chiefs.

URL: What would be the one rule in rugby you’d change?

SR: The one rule I’d change in rugby would be to introduce the 40-20 rule similar to league. I think this would give teams opportunity to attack more with the ball.

URL: Who are your best friends in the Ulster squad?

SR: I’m pretty tight with everyone!

URL: What would you be doing if you weren’t playing rugby for Ulster.

SR: Enjoying the sun in New Zealand.

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