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Red card costly for Connacht as Leinster secure bonus point win



Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images

Leinster Rugby wore down Connacht with six second-half tries to leave The Sportsground with all the points in Round 14 of the United Rugby Championship.

In hindsight, it all hinged on an early red card for Tom Daly, Connacht’s brave resistance eventually giving way to precision strike play for Leinster to move five points clear at the head of the table.

A challenge by Tommy O’Brien on Niall Murray in the air from Ross Byrne’s kick-off resulted in a yellow card for the winger.

One man down, Leinster opted to hold onto the ball. Daly did not wrap in the tackle on Ciarán Frawley, making contact with the neck for a red card.

Referee Chris Busby having a quick chat with the respective captains about the discipline of the opening exchanges.

This break in play was quickly followed by a Tiernan O’Halloran burst and Oran McNulty punt out of defence against a Jimmy O’Brien counter from the long ball.

A bout of kick-tennis concluded with a Leinster lineout which Byrne translated into a touch-finder deep inside the 22.

A crooked throw by Dave Heffernan made for a scrum and a subsequent scrum penalty led to a lineout.

James Tracy broke away from the maul for multiple drives, leading to Rory O’Loughlin’s try from an overlap on the left, Byrne converting in the 15th minute.

The Leinster rush defence forced Kieran Marmion to kick the ball away, relying on Murray and Jarrad Butler to carry the fight.

Leinster’s commitment to the counter-ruck was compromised by failing to keep their feet, Jack Carty slicing the posts for 7-3 in the 22nd minute.

The interprovincial intensity left little space to move the ball, pressure causing mistakes. When Frawley left for a Head Injury Assessment, 20-year-old Chris Cosgrave entered for his debut in the 32nd minute.

A Connacht scrum penalty was the catalyst for a Tom Farrell charge and Scott Penny had to take Marmion around the ankles.

The home side chose a scrum ahead of a penalty and when the forwards couldn’t breach, Carty whipped a high, wide pass for full-back O’Halloran to dive in for 8-7 at the break.

Frawley returned for Cosgrave shortly after David Hawkshaw came on for Byrne as Leinster’s kicking game delivered sound field position.

Wing John Porch wrangled a penalty at the breakdown to spark a nice attack in which left-wing McNulty could not hold a pass on the outside.

The Leinster front row of Peter Dooley, James Tracy and Michael Alaalatoa cranked out a penalty at the scrum and Tracy snatched a penalty on the floor.

The commitment of Connacht’s 14 men showed in how Carty and Butler covered across to bundle O’Loughlin into touch

The Blues’ scrum provided another penalty advantage to play off and the backs spread it for Tommy O’Brien to cut inside and for Rhys Ruddock to take off up the middle.

The ball was recycled for Hawkshaw to drive through Murray for the lead try and, also, the conversion in the 55th minute.

Luke McGrath’s strip of Ultan Dillane enabled Hawkshaw to spot space in the backfield. His kick was gobbled up by the Leinster counter-ruck for McGrath to shoot a gap for the third try, Hawkshaw converting for 21-8 in the 57th minute.

Jamie Osborne’s sweet out-to-in line was taken on by Jimmy O’Brien only for Sammy Arnold to conquer a ruck.

It was difficult to see how Connacht could launch a comeback with their numerical disadvantage, Jimmy O’Brien accelerating away and Hawkshaw tickling a kick in behind Porch for Frawley to scoop up the bonus-point try in the 65th minute.

The Westerners were all out of energy and Frawley’s playmaking skills were key to putting Tommy O’Brien outside Diarmuid Kilgallen for a sharp finish up the left.

The replacements were making an impact, Josh Murphy streaming through the cover and the forwards queuing up for Max Deegan to carry to the line, Hawkshaw converting in the 72nd minute.

Subtle involvements of Osborne and Cosgrave, on a decoy line, allowed Tommy O’Brien to move into overdrive for his second try, Hawkshaw adding the extras and capping a fine second half.


Match Report: Vodacom Bulls 28-14 Connacht



Another tough day at the office for Connacht after a disappointing 28-14 defeat to the Vodacom Bulls at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

It’s a third defeat in-a-row for the Western province, having already lost their opening two matches which were both away to Ulster and the defending BKT URC Champions Stormers.

Coming up against the Bulls was always going to be a tough test and the home side looked to show their power early but were denied by the TMO after mauling over the try line where Johan Grobbelaar’s try was ruled out.

Not long after though, Connacht looked to attack and stretch the home sides defence but there was one pass too many when John Porch under pressure by Canan Moodie tried to set Oran McNulty off only for the ball to be misplaced, ending up with Bulls full-back Kurt-Lee Arendse who ran from his own half where no one could catch him from scoring the opening try.

The Bulls widened their advantage on the ten minute mark, second-row Walt Steenkamp powered his way to an inch of the try line where scrum-half Zak Burger finished off to make it Bulls 14-0 Connacht.

As the game went on Connacht started to get their hands more on the ball but couldn’t find a break through with some errors creeping into their game as they looked to claw back the lead.

Nearing 20 minutes on the clock, the Bulls were reduced to 14-men when Marco van Staden was sent to the sin-bin for a dangerous tackle. Despite having the extra man Connacht couldn’t make the numbers count.

Connacht showed plenty of glimpses of what they can do but the Bulls defence were ready to suffocate any danger that came their way.

The half came to an end with the Bulls getting their third try of the game, Marcell Coetzee bashing his way over the line, Goosen adding the extra two points to leave it 21-0 at the break.

Connacht showed a lot more promise and composure on the ball in the second forty but it was the Bulls who got the opening score of the half when Connacht were turned over. From the attack, second-row Ruan Nortje punched through a gap in the Connacht defence where he released Burger for his second try of the game. Another conversion by Goosen made it 28-0.

As the half went on the home side saw two further yellow cards, a high tackle from Goosen on Kieran Marmion just after 50mins and then Jan-Hendrick Wessels for a late hit on David Hawkshaw in the 65th minute.

Playing with an extra man Connacht took advantage, tries from Jack Aungier, his second of the season which both came in South Africa. Aungier showed great strength to power over from close range. Hawkshaw converted with ten minutes to go.

Hawkshaw making his first start for the club got his own try when blocking down Chris Smith’s attempted clearance, he gathered the loose ball before going under the posts. The conversion made it 28-14 to the home team which would be the final result.

Up next for Connacht is a massive Interprovincial-derby at home to Munster.

Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby

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Dweba on DHL Stormers debut against Edinburgh



Springbok hooker Joseph Dweba will make his DHL Stormers debut in the Vodacom United Rugby Championship match against Edinburgh at DHL Stadium on Saturday.

Dweba’s inclusion is one of six changes to the team for the encounter with the Scottish outfit, which kicks off at 14h00 on Saturday. CLICK HERE to buy your match tickets now.

His fellow Springboks Damian Willemse, Deon Fourie and Salmaan Moerat all come straight into the starting line-up, with Herschel Jantjies among the replacements and Marvin Orie taking the captaincy.

There are two positional switches in the backline, with Dan du Plessis at outside centre and Suleiman Hartzenberg shifting to the wing in place of the injured Seabelo Senatla, while up front Neethling Fouche comes in at tighthead prop.

DHL Stormers Head Coach John Dobson said that the team is looking forward to their first match at DHL Stadium since the Vodacom United Rugby Championship Grand Final last season.

“It is great to have a few of our top players back from national duty and they have all slotted in seamlessly this week.

“We are all looking forward to getting out there at DHL Stadium in an early game which should be a great occasion for everyone,” he said.

DHL Stormers: 15 Clayton Blommetjies, 14 Suleiman Hartzenberg, 13 Dan du Plessis, 12 Damian Willemse, 11 Angelo Davids, 10 Manie Libbok, 9 Paul de Wet, 8 Evan Roos, 7 Hacjivah Dayimani, 6 Deon Fourie, 5 Marvin Orie (captain), 4 Salmaan Moerat, 3 Neethling Fouche, 2 Joseph Dweba, 1 Ali Vermaak.
Replacements: 16 Andre-Hugo Venter, 17 Brok Harris, 18 Sazi Sandi, 19 Adre Smith, 20 Ernst van Rhyn, 21 Junior Pokomela, 22 Herschel Jantjies, 23 Sacha Mngomezulu.

Content & Images from – Stormers Rugby

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Reed to start clash with Sharks



Fly half Will Reed will make his first appearance of the season when Dragons RFC face Cell C Sharks in the BKT United Rugby Championship at Rodney Parade on Saturday (kick-off 7.35pm).

The Men of Gwent make a total of three changes to the side that defeated Munster Rugby in the first game of the season on home soil last weekend.

Reed is the only change to the back line, with JJ Hanrahan ruled out of the game as a precaution after picking up a knock in training. Hanrahan is expected to be fit for Round 4.

Lock Ben Carter is recalled to partner captain Will Rowlands in the second row. Carter’s return sees George Nott move into the back row to occupy the blindside flanker jersey.

The final change is a first start of the season for Wales international hooker Elliot Dee, with Bradley Roberts moving to the bench.

The return of lock Joe Davies is the only other change among the replacements.

Head Coach Dai Flanagan said: “Sharks will be physical and there is a lot of quality in their side. We need to make sure we match the physicality they bring and stay true to ourselves.

“It was a big result and performance by us against Munster last time out. Now we must replicate it, match it and ensure we get better week by week.

“We need to step forward as a squad again and if we you stay true to ourselves, work hard, we’ll be in this fight together.”

Dragons RFC: Angus O’Brien, Rio Dyer, Sio Tomkinson, Jack Dixon, Ashton Hewitt, Will Reed, Rhodri Williams; Aki Seiuli, Elliot Dee, Lloyd Fairbrother, Ben Carter, Will Rowlands (c), George Nott, Taine Basham, Ross Moriarty.

Replacements: Bradley Roberts, Rob Evans, Chris Coleman, Joe Davies, Aaron Wainwright, Lewis Jones, Max Clark, Jordan Williams.

Unavailable: Leon Brown (neck), Sam Davies (knee), Ollie Griffiths (back), JJ Hanrahan (knock), Rhodri Jones (calf), Harri Keddie (ankle), Aneurin Owen (hamstring).

Dragons RFC can confirm lock Huw Taylor and back row Lennon Greggains are set for loan spells in the English Championship.

Taylor, 26, has moved to Goldington Road to link-up with Bedford Blues while Greggains, 23, will have a spell with Hartpury University RFC to gain valuable game time.

Greggains joins team-mate Ellis Shipp, 25, who has been on loan at Hartpury this month. The hooker has started two of the club’s opening three league fixtures.

Content & Images from – Dragons Rugby

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