In round three of the Pro12 winless Glasgow Warriors headed to Swansea to face the reigning champions Ospreys who were also looking for their first win, whilst Edinburgh welcomed new opposition Zebre to Murrayfield.
Ospreys 10 - 28 Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow took full advantage of a below-par Ospreys to secure their first win of the new season at the Liberty stadium on Friday night.
Winger DTH Van der Merwe was alert to a high ball In Glasgow’s 22 after 4 minutes and outpaced the home side’s covering defence to sprint over the line from 80 metres although Duncan Weir failed to convert.
Glasgow lost scrum half Chris Cusiter to a serious looking shoulder injury before they scored their second try after flanker Chris Fusaro was on hand to scoop up a loose ball in the Osprey’s 22 to touchdown for the easiest of scores. Weir this time making sure with the conversion from the left.
The expected Ospreys backlash failed to materialise and last year’s champions looked incredibly indecisive and lacked confidence with the ball in hand to the frustration of the home crowd.
The Warriors’ simple yet effective gameplan allowed them to keep the Ospreys attack at bay - the Scots rarely committing more than one player to the tackle area unless they sniffed a turnover.
The introduction of Ospreys club captain Alun Wyn Jones off the bench lifted the home side and they set up camp on the Warriors line with a score finally coming from Lock Ian Evans after Warriors flanker James Eddie was sin-binned.
Van der Merwe crossed again later in the second half after yet more Ospreys defensive errors with Weir’s conversion making putting them 25-7 up with fifteen minutes remaining. Two further penalties from Ruaridh Jackson and Dan Biggar completed the scoring on a night to remember for the Scots who’s season has now been kick-started at one of the more difficult venues in the Pro12 where they have now won two seasons in a row. However, it was a night to forget for the champions who are still without a win and sit second bottom of the table.
Edinburgh 41-10 Zebre
As expected, Edinburgh secured a bonus point victory against newcomers Zebre at Murrayfield on Friday night.
Early tries from Sean Cox and Tim Visser combined with Greig Laidlaw’s kicking, gave the home side a comfortable lead in the first half whilst Zebre’s only points came from a penalty by Daniel Halangahu.
Visser is on something of a scoring streak at the moment as he crossed for his second of the match, his sixth of the season, early in the second half which will please Scotland coach Andy Robinson as he ponders the makeup of his Autumn series squad,
Another player who has started the season well is Edinburgh hooker Ross Ford who also got in on the try-scoring action. This will have caught the eye of not only Robinson but Lions coach Warren Gatland who this week admitted that he’s looking for representatives from all four nations for his test XV to take on Australia next summer.
The final try came after Zebre’s captain Quinton Geldenhuys was sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Lee Jones and a penalty try was awarded from the resulting dominant scrum, Edinburgh’s second such score in as many weeks. Laidlaw added all five conversion attempts as well as two penalties to make the scoreline flatter the hosts whilst Zebre’s only try came from former Aironi winger Sinoti Sinoti with the returning Halangahu converting. Edinburgh now move up to second in the table thanks to the bonus point win.
Ulster 20-19 Munster
The game of the weekend was the interprovincial derby at Ravenhill as last season’s Heineken cup finalists Ulster came back from seven points down to snatch their third win from three in a thrilling contest on Friday night.
Munster seemed to be heading for victory after two Ian Keatley penalties and a try from centre Keith Earles propelled them into the lead in the first half. Ulster were not to be outdone however and rallied behind returning hero Stephen Ferris, who was making his 100th appearance for the Northern Irish province, and snatched a memorable victory thanks to five Paddy Jackson penalties and a late try by Jared Payne. Despite missing the conversion Ulster held on for a hard-fought victory over their rivals to cement their place at the top of the Pro 12 table.
Connacht 11-24 Scarlets
In Saturday afternoon’s clash at the Galway Sportsground, the Scarlets again secured an impressive away win after being behind early on to a spirited Connacht side still missing stand-off Dan Parks through injury.
A try from centre Eoin Griffin and two penalties from Miah Nikora had the hosts in front at the break but the Scarlets roared back into the game with tries from Jordan Williams, George North and Jonathan Davies combined with two conversions from mis-firing stand-off Rhys Priestland to confirm the win and keep up the Welsh region’s 100% start to the new season.
Benetton Treviso 18-19 Leinster
Brian O’Driscoll made his long-awaited comeback for Leinster against the Italian side and it was the veteran centre who helped Leinster to victory after going behind early to a try from Robert Barbieri.
Two penalties from stand-off Jonny Sexton, who was also making his comeback, gave Leinster an undeserved lead mid-way through the second half but a further Treviso try from Fabio Semenzato levelled the contest before stand-off Kris Burton edged the Italians ahead with the conversion. A late Sexton drop-goal snatched an unlikely win for the visitors who now appear to be hitting their straps in the run up to the Heineken cup which starts next month.
Newport Gwent Dragons 5 - Cardiff Blues 16
In a disappointing Welsh derby, Cardiff Blues got their season back on track with a win over their neighbours at Rodney Parade.
A try from winger Alex Cuthbert in the second half levelled the scores after Steffan Jones had crossed for the hosts in the first half, before teenage stand-off Rhys Patchell edged the Blues to victory with three penalties to ensure his side’s victory in one of the more forgettable Pro12 encounters.
Next weekend Glasgow will welcome former hero Dan Parks and his Connacht side to Scotstoun whilst Edinburgh will look to continue their impressive run of results away to Leinster on Saturday.
You can follow Finlay on Twitter @FinMorrison
- Ospreys 10-28 Glasgow Warriors: Double try joy for DTH van der Merwe
- Edinburgh 41-10 Zebre: Hosts secure their first home win of the season