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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.


Connacht squad to face Emirates Lions named



The Connacht management team have named the matchday 23 for tomorrow’s BKT United Rugby Championship tie with the Emirates Lions at The Sportsground (k/o 7.35pm)
Having missed last week’s trip to Newcastle through injury, Jack Carty returns to captain the side. The out-half could make history in the game – he needs six points to equal Eric Elwood’s all-time points scoring record of 1152 points for the province.
Scrum-half Caolin Blade is named alongside him while Cathal Forde and Tom Farrell are named at inside and outside-centre respectively. Tiernan O’Halloran lines out at full back for his 215th Connacht appearance with John Porch and Diarmuid Kilgallen on the wings.
The pack sees the Murray brothers Darragh and Niall paired together in the second row, while props Peter Dooley and Jack Aungier come in alongside hooker Shane Delahunt. Josh Murphy moves from the second row to blindside flanker, while Conor Oliver and Jarrad Butler are retained at 7 and 8.
Commenting on the team selection, Director of Rugby Andy Friend says:
“Tomorrow marks the end of a long block of games for us and one we want to finish on a high. If we get the win we head into the next block well in the running for a playoff spot – while achieving our aim of reaching the Challenge Cup knockouts – so it’s not a bad spot to be in.
We’re fully aware however that we need a win tomorrow to put ourselves in that position. The Lions are a formidable outfit and have improved even more since their first season last year, so we know a difficult challenge awaits us.”

Saturday 28th January, 19:35 @ The Sportsground

15. Tiernan O’Halloran (214)
14. Diarmuid Kilgallen (12)
13. Tom Farrell (90)
12. Cathal Forde (7)
11. John Porch (72)
10. Jack Carty (190) (C)
9. Caolin Blade (161)
1. Peter Dooley (12)
2. Shane Delahunt (124)
3. Jack Aungier (43)
4. Darragh Murray (5)
5. Niall Murray (47)
6. Josh Murphy (11)
7. Conor Oliver (54)
8. Jarrad Butler (107)

16. Dylan Tierney-Martin (15)
17. Jordan Duggan (34)
18. Dominic Robertson-McCoy (76)
19. Leva Fifita (22)
20. Shamus Hurley-Langton (12)
21. Kieran Marmion (222)
22. Tom Daly (71)
23. Oran McNulty (12)

Images & Content from – Connacht Rugby

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New Role for Ian Costello



Munster Rugby and the IRFU are pleased to confirm that Academy and Pathway Manager Ian Costello will assume the newly created role of Head of Rugby Operations at the end of this season.

Costello will take on further responsibility in an all-encompassing Head of Rugby Operations role that will oversee the long-term strategic development of the elite player pathway, succession planning, and provide recruitment support for developing, retaining, and recruiting players in conjunction with the Head Coach.

Commenting on the appointment, Munster Rugby CEO Ian Flanagan said, “We are delighted that Ian will step into this newly created role.

“This has been a work in progress in the background for some time as we look to align our resource support with the IRFU and other provinces.

“When Ian returned to the province as Academy Manager he was identified as the ideal candidate for this role when incorporating his previous coaching experience, managerial skill-set, and strategic abilities for aligning and developing our player pathway.”

Head Coach Graham Rowntree added, “I’m delighted to have someone of Cossie’s calibre (Ian Costello) taking on this role.

“We work very closely as it is through his academy role, and from my own personal point of view it has been a really positive working relationship. Ian and his academy team play a key role in everything we are trying to achieve each week.

“It’s great to have a dedicated resource to driving long-term succession planning and coordinate recruitment operations, and I believe it will be of huge benefit to not only me and our coaching team, but to Munster Rugby.”

Images & Content from Munster Rugby

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Smith, Goosen combine as Jacobs returns ahead of Scarlets outing



The Vodacom Bulls have announced their matchday squad for round 13 of the 2022/23 Vodacom United Rugby Championship against Scarlets in Llanelli, Wales. The herd will see Chris Smith and Johan Goosen start, with Stravino Jacobs and Jan-Hendrick Wessels returning to the matchday 23.

Ruan Nortje (lock) returns to lead the side which sees Gerhard Steenekamp, Johann Grobbelaar and Mornay Smith combine as the front-row trio, with Ruan Vermaak joining his skipper in the second row. The back row will have Marco van Staden, Cyle Brink and Elrigh Louw adding power to the forwards pack. In the backline, Springbok duo Kurt-Lee Arendse and Canan Moodie have been given rest which sees Stravino Jacobs return to left-wing whilst Johan Goosen slots in at fullback with Zak burger at scrumhalf. Harold Vorster and Lionel Mapoe combine as the centre pairing with David Kriel slotting in at right wing.

The Pretoria outfit will have Jan-Hendrick Wessels, Simphiwe Matanzima, Francois Klopper, Janko Swanepoel, Nizaam Carr, Embrose Papier, Cornal Hendricks and Wandisile Simelane ready to come on from the bench.

This will be the second time the two sides meet and the Welsh side are looking to bounce back from back-to-back league defeats whilst the visiting Vodacom Bulls will be looking to make it two wins from two in the competition.

Chris Rossouw – Vodacom Bulls Backline coach – said the combination of Smith and Goosen allows the side to exploit the double-kicking options. Rossouw also highlighted the importance of confidence going into the fixture against a Scarlets side with balance and confidence.

“Looking over the last month, I think we are high in the confidence bar last week. Against the Dragons, at the back of the Stormers and the Sharks, the guys bounced back and they were great on the evening in how they managed the game with great energy and confidence. We obviously took that to Exeter and last week we slipped but I thought it was a great learning curve for many of us who were in France for the first time,”

“We all know Scarlets are on high at the moment, but saying that, there is nice energy at our camp and it’s almost like a change of season for us as well,”

“Confidence will be important but obviously execution and being clinical on the night will be more important.”

Rossouw went on to say: “Scarlets are known as a team that attacks a lot. What they have done over the last two months is to find a balance between their attacking and kicking game, and how we manage that will be crucial for us and make sure we do not get pinned in our own half,”

“They have a great pack of forwards and an experienced backline, that remains one of their strengths so it is important for us to manage the kicking game as a whole,”

Asked about physicality and managing that against Scarlets, the backline coach responded: “We all know it starts there, we will need to be physical and look to dominate the collisions to have any momentum. For us it will be one of the focus points. We know they have some good runners and we also know their big boys have the ability to offload in tackles, so we need to make sure we identify those and look to limit those opportunities through our tackle techniques,”

“We will need to bring the physicality that we know the South African boys can bring” he concluded.

The fixture at Parc y Scarlets stadium will kick-off at 21h35pm (South African time) and will be broadcast LIVE on SuperSport Rugby.

VODACOM BULLS STARTING XV: 1. Gerhard Steenekamp, 2. Johann Grobbelaar, 3. Mornay Smith, 4. Ruan Vermaak, 5. Ruan Nortje (c), 6. Marco van Staden, 7. Cyle Brink, 8. Elrigh Louw, 9. Zak Burger, 10. Chris Smith, 11.Stravino Jacobs, 12. Harold Vorster, 13. Lionel Mapoe, 14. David Kriel, 15. Johan Goosen

VODACOM BULLS IMPACT SQUAD: 16. Jan-Hendrick Wessels, 17. Simphiwe Matanzima, 18. Francois Klopper, 19. Janko Swanepoel, 20. Nizaam Carr, 21. Embrose Papier, 22. Cornal Hendricks, 23. Wandisile Simelane

MANAGEMENT: Jake White – Director of Rugby, Nollis Marais – Breakdown, Russell Winter – Forwards, Chris Rossouw – Backs, Werner Kruger – Scrum Coach, Pine Pienaar – Defense Coach, Andre Volsteedt – Strength & Conditioning, John-William Meyer – Technical Analyst, Dr Herman Rossouw – Team Doctor, Lance Lemmetjies – Senior Physiotherapist, Kyle Mayer – Physiotherapist, Elias Bennett – Team Manager, Simon Dyidi – Logistics Manager

Content & Images from – Vodacom Bulls Rugby

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