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Munster See Off Connacht to Set Up Quarter-Final Clash with Benetton

Munster battled past a resilient Connacht side on Saturday night

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(Photo By Diarmuid Greene/Sportsfile via Getty Images)

Munster will face Benetton Treviso in the Pro 14 quarter-finals after defeating rivals Connacht 27-14 at Thomond Park on Saturday.

Tries from Tadhg Beirne, Mike Haley and JJ Hanrahan pushed Munster past the Western side, however, Glasgow’s win over Edinburgh ensured Munster finished in second place in Conference A.

Munster were forced into a change before the match even began as Conor Murray was injured in the warm-up, with Neil Cronin taking his place in the starting XV.

The visitors had the chance to get the first score of the game when they received a penalty, but debutant Conor Dean missed his kick.

Seven minutes on and Tyler Bleyendaal got Munster on the scoreboard thanks to a perfect penalty.

Connacht came close to scoring the game’s opening try moment later only for Dan Goggin to make a recovery tackle to deny them.

Finlay Bealham did get them on the board when he powered over in the 24 minute. Dean made no mistake with the kick to make it 7-3.

Stephen Fitzgerald denied Andrew Conway an intercept try, after the restart but Beirne gave the hosts the lead once more when he out-fought Niyi Adeolokun to touch down. Bleyendaal made it 10-7 with the conversion on the half-hour mark.

Munster scored again before half-time, with Conway releasing captain Peter O’Mahony who in turn sent Haley on his way to score his sides second try. Bleyendaal was perfect from the tee again to leave it at 17-7 going into half-time.

The second-half started much like the end of the first with Munster on the attack but a 56th minute Bleyendaal penalty was all they had to show for their dominance.

Connacht took full advantage of a Jeremy Loughman yellow-card when Eoin McKeon got in for a five-pointer with 10 minutes left on the clock. Dean converted and there were only six points in it.

However, four minutes later and Hanrahan broke through a gap in the defence to touch down and end any hopes of a Connacht comeback. He converted his own try to make it 27-14 and that’s how it ended.

Speaking after the game Munster out-half Bleyendaal was delighted to end the regular season on a win ahead of the play-offs.

“We made it tough at the end, but it was a really good performance and it was nice to build some momentum into the play-offs,” he said.

Munster now face Benetton in the quarter-finals next Saturday while Connacht face Ulster with all teams vying for the two semi-final spots.

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Pro14

Glasgow Warriors Sign Highlanders Prop

Glasgow Warriors have confirmed the arrival of an experienced Super Rugby loosehead

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(Photo by Dianne Manson/Getty Images)

Glasgow Warriors have announced the signing of Highlanders prop on a two-year contract ahead of the 2019/20 season.

The loosehead’s move is subject to visa and a medical with the club, which he is expected to pass, and he is excited to make the move to Scotstoun.

“I’m really looking forward to moving to Glasgow. It’s going to be a new challenge for me and I’m excited about the opportunity to play in Europe. The coaching team’s reputation speaks for itself – Dave is highly regarded and I can’t wait to work with him. I also know Siua from our time at the Highlanders, so I’m sure he’ll help me settle in. Glasgow Warriors have a very strong squad and made it to the Guinness PRO14 final last season, so I know I’ll have to get my head down and work hard to compete for my place in the team,” he said while speaking to glasgowwarriors.org.

Seiuli will bring a huge amount of experience to the Glasgow set-up having notched up 38 appearances for the Highlanders and featuring in the side that defeated the 2017 British & Irish Lions.

His shear power and size is something that head coach Dave Rennie is looking forward to having in his side and believes he will fit in well.

“Aki is a hell of an athlete. We identified him as someone with that point of difference around his ball carrying and physicality. He’s a good man and someone who we believe will fit in really well into our environment. He knows he’ll need to come over and work hard because we’re going to have a lot of competition in that loosehead spot this season,” he said.

The 26-year-old will be helped to settle in by former teammate Siua Halanukonuka whom he spent time with previously. If he does settle in quickly it will be a massive prospect for the Warriors fans ahead of the new season as they look to go one step further and win the PRO14 title as well as competing in the Champions Cup.

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Pro14

Owens retains Scarlets captaincy for new season

2019/2020 Season.

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With Owens set to play an integral part in WalesWorld Cup campaign outside centre Steffan Hughes and former Springboks prop Werner Kruger have been named as vice captains along with Wales squad members James Davies and his brother Jonathan.

The six consecutive seasons at the helm is a record for the Scarlets in the regional era and brings Owens alongside the great Phil Bennett, the Scarlets president, who captained Llanelli RFC between 1973 and 1979. “Ken is an outstanding leader,” said new Scarlets head coach Brad Mooar.

“I heard the other night Alun Wyn Jones refer to him as the heart of any team he is in, such high praise from a legend of the game and something that has been really clear to me from the time I have been involved in this Scarets journey. Ken’s heart beats Scarlets.

“I first met Ken about a year ago. He is held in such high regard, is such a genuine Scarlets person and an outstanding rugby player. Without exception, everybody I have spoken to – players, management, staff, the board – everyone speaks highly of Ken and his leadership abilities.

“He has played for and captained the British and Irish Lions, has been part of the leadership group for Wales. It is an absolute no-brainer that he is the right man to lead this team, club and its people.

“It is a World Cup year so we have got four vice-captains who are superb leaders in their own right, players who lead in different ways and contribute greatly to the group. That allows us to have a leadership group that is seamless throughout the year.

“With Cubby, Werner, Steff and Fox it is an awesome group to help Ken lead us. We had a launch here at Parc y Scarlets and their involvement and engagement has been outstanding.

“It is not just about the boys who are physically here now; Ken, Fox and Cubby’s connection and involvement with me, with the group and with the players, player to player, you can see that is there, as it has been with all the guys who have been involved with Wales.

“They are Scarlets at heart, they live and breathe it, and there is a huge amount of IP that will lead us throughout the season.”

Owens, who won his 67th cap for his country against Ireland last weekend, said: “It is a huge honour to be again named captain of my home region and, as I said when I was first appointed captain, a privilege to follow in the footsteps of some legends of the game who have led the Scarlets in the past.

“It is an exciting season ahead for the Scarlets and we have a strong leadership group to take us forward.”

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Premiership

London Irish Omit Jackson from Squad

London Irish have decided against handing Paddy Jackson his debut this week to avoid controversy

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London Irish have left Paddy Jackson out of their traveling squad for this Friday’s pre-season game against Munster at Irish Independent Park.

It had been previously reported that Jackson could be in line for his debut for the Exiles against the men from southern Ireland. However, a number of people had expressed plans to protest if he played on Irish shores once more leading to the Premiership clubs’ decision.

Jackson, who was found not guilty during his high-profile court case in Belfast last year, was also left behind for a trip to Ireland by former employers Perpignan when they travelled to face Connacht in Galway during the Challenge Cup.

The fly-half’s move to the English side has also sparked debate among fans and has seen long-term sponsors Diageo cancel their deal with them.

Only last week the club’s head coach Declan Kidney backed Jackson for success with his new side but there is no doubt that whether that happens or not there will be bumps along the way.

In his absence Irish have selected Stephen Myler and Jacob Atkins as the options at out-half for the annual Jack Wakefield Memorial Trophy match.

While Jackson will have to wait until at least the 21st of September to play in his first game when they head to Kingsholm to face Gloucester.

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