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Pro14

Munster Go Top of Conference A with Benetton Win

Munster have gone top of Conference A for at least tonight after fending off a dogged Benetton side

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Photo By Ramsey Cardy/Sportsfile via Getty Images

Munster secured a hard-fought 37-28 win in Treviso over Benetton to go to the summit of Conference A on Friday night.

The win puts Munster two points ahead of Glasgow Warriors for tonight at least as the Scottish side face Leinster on Saturday.

The home side got off to the better start with Tomasso Allan slotting over an early penalty to settle the nerves. After seven minutes Benetton were 10-0 up as Ratuva Tavuyarto broke the line before Tomasso Benvenuti touched down. Allan kicked the extras.

Munster responded immediately through Rhys Marshall after he received a lovely pass from scrum-half Alby Mathewson. JJ Hanrahan knocked over the conversion to make it 10-7.

After 12 minutes the men in red were ahead as Dan Goggin scored under the posts and Hanrahan again slotted home the extra two to leave it at 14-10 to the away side.

The game slowed down a little after the energetic start, with Allan kicking two penalties and Hanrahan scoring one to make it 17-16 to Munster come the 25th minute.

However, Benetton went into half-time with the lead with Jayden Hayward breaking away and Monty Ioane getting in for the try on 38 minutes. Allan couldn’t push them ahead any further as he missed his conversion to leave the score at 21-17 come the whistle.

Benetton started the second-half where they left off. They were awarded a penalty try four minutes into the half after Darren Sweetnam deliberately knocked-on the ball. Sweetnam was sent to the bin for 10 minutes following the incident.

Although they had the man advantage the hosts failed to capitalise, as Munster scored a penalty five minutes later through Hanrahan to make it 28-20.

Benvenuti was then shown yellow for the home side for a high tackle on Stephen Archer in the 52nd minute.

Munster took full advantage with Hanrahan kicking another penalty two minutes later before Shane Daly scored in the corner to pull them level. Hanrahan’s perfect kick meant they went into the lead once more at 30-28 with a quarter of the match remaining.

Hanrahan was at the thick of things again when he broke through the Benetton defence and Alby Mathewson was on hand to finish the move. A seventh kick from seven for man of the match Hanrahan stretched the lead out to 37-28.

The final 12 minutes where spent in the Munster half as Benetton went in search of a score, but they were unable to break through as it finished 37-28.

The win puts Munster first in Conference A with one game to go in the regular season having played a game more than second-placed Glasgow. It also gives the side another confidence boost before their crunch clash with Saracens in the Champions Cup semi-finals next weekend. On the other hand, the loss means Benetton head into the final round of fixtures a point ahead of Edinburgh in Conference B as they hope to secure the last play-off spot in the conference.

6 Nations

Rory Best to retire.

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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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