Warriors make it five in a row

Glasgow Warriors and Edinburgh were both back in domestic action this weekend after the opening rounds of the Heineken Cup with Glasgow hosting Ulster and Edinburgh travelling to face champions Munster.

Glasgow Warrior's Troy Nathan

Glasgow Warriors 17-9 Ulster

Glasgow managed to get the better of a weakened Ulster team at a freezing Firhill on Friday night thanks again to the boot of stand-off Duncan Weir and a well-worked try from centre Troy Nathan.

Ulster chose to rest a number of players, possibly under orders from the IRFU but were still able to field the likes of Andrew Trimble and Simon Danielli in their backline.

Both teams struggled in the wet conditions and Italian referee Stefano Penne seemed to be blowing his whistle at every possible opportunity, and didn’t allow play to flow as best it could in the conditions.

The teams were level at 3-3 thanks to penalties from Duncan Weir and Ian Humphreys but it was Glasgow who edged ahead thanks to two more penalties from Weir and took a 9-3 lead into halftime.

Ulster came out fighting in the second half and were quickly level again thanks to two more penalties from Humphreys and Sean Lineen, the Glasgow head coach looked to his bench for some experience and quickly deployed Richie Gray and Chris Cusiter although Cusiter only lasted four minutes due to a re-opening of a facial cut, and was again replaced by original scrum half Henry Pyrgos.

There seemed to be no real fluency or structure to the game as 70 minutes passed and Ian Humphreys missed another penalty attempt. Then came a try out of nothing for Glasgow.

A long looped pass found Troy Nathan who checked his opposite number before releasing debutant Samoan winger David Lemi into space down the left touchline. Lemi then returned the pass to put Nathan into space and the centre touched down for his second Pro 12 try although the conversion was missed by Weir.

That gave Glasgow some breathing space and a late drop goal from Weir crucially denied Ulster a losing bonus point and sent the Warriors joint top of the Pro 12 table on Friday night.

Lineen was clearly relieved to get the win afterwards although he admitted there were also areas of concern. “We need to work hard on our re-starts”, he stressed, “But I thought our determination to win was outstanding”.

Glasgow will travel to Newport next Sunday full of confidence after another important win, their fifth in a row in the Pro 12.

Munster 34-17 Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s hot streak came to an end at Thomond Park on Saturday night as reigning champions Munster proved to strong for the capital side.

Tries from Danny Barnes, Simon Zebo and Luke O’Dea as well as a penalty try earned the hosts their bonus point but Edinburgh were by no means outclassed and were in the contest at halftime, trailing only 13-5.

They were not helped by the second half sin-binning of props Jack Gilding for a ruck infringement and Kyle Traynor for dropping his bind, which proved costly as Munster took full advantage of their superiority and numerical advantage up front. Scottish referee Neil Paterson awarded a penalty try to the hosts at the very next scrum.

Although Dutch try scoring-machine Tim Visser did not feature for Edinburgh, his younger brother Sepp started on the right wing and helped set up Greig Laidlaw for a late Edinburgh score to add to earlier tries by the returning Phil Godman and a superb effort by left winger Tom Brown.

But it was not enough to get anything out of the match and despite their European run, Edinburgh still sit 10th in the Pro 12 table. Bottom side Aironi are the next visitors to Murrayfield next weekend, which should see them return to winning ways.

Cardiff Blues 38-0 Aironi

Dan Parks helped Cardiff record their biggest win in over two years in Thursday night as they cruised to a bonus point win over bottom side Aironi after a poor first half.

Parks kicked 16 points to add to tries from Daffyd Hewitt, Casey Lualua, Tom James and Marc Breeze in a one-sided contest that would’ve done wonders for the Cardiff squad, given that they were missing almost 10 first choice players through injury or rotation.

When Aironi’s Samoan centre Sinoti Sinoti was sent to the sin bin early in the second half for a high tackle, the flood gates opened and Cardiff pulled away from their struggling Italian opponents.

The win moved Cardiff up into the top three in the Pro 12 table and they will travel to Leinster next Friday looking to continue their winning ways, before a Heineken cup double-header against Edinburgh in December.

Treviso 20-30 Leinster

In what has proved to be one of the toughest places to get a win this season, Leinster managed to overcome a battling Treviso side at Stadio di Monigo thanks to early tries from Leo Auva’a and Fionn Carr. Treviso clawed back to within five points at halftime thanks to penalties from scrumhalf Tobias Boates.

A second half try from replacement Manoa Vosawai helped the home side draw level from close range but the conversion was missed and Leinster managed to squeeze ahead thanks to Eoin O’Malley, who skipped past three defenders to score under the posts. Fergus McFadden added the conversion to deny Treviso their bonus point which would have been toughly deserved after such an entertaining encounter.

Connacht 6-17 Ospreys

An under-strength Ospreys side managed to overcome Connacht at the Galway Sportsground on Saturday night thanks to tries from Matthew Morgan and Sonny Parker.

The visitors had been depleted of their Welsh contingent and are still without Scottish winger Nikki Walker, but still dominated proceedings in wild conditions.

Connacht were level for a short while thanks to penalties from Miah Nikora but those six points were to be their last of the game as the Ospreys took control and moved back to the top of the Pro 12 table after a convincing win.

Scarlets 22-12 Newport-Gwent Dragons

With both sides being depleted thanks to the Wales v Australia test next weekend, the Scarlets managed to get the better of their countrymen and Parc Y Scarlets thanks to the boot of Stephen Jones who appears to have come to the end of his international career.

Jones kicked five penalties and converted Rhys Thomas’ close-range try whilst Jason Tovey scored three penalties and Steffan Jones added one for the Dragons in a scrappy game.