RaboDirect PRO12 - Round
Zebre make history with victory over Blues
September 21, 2013
Zebre claimed their first-ever RaboDirect PRO12 victory with a 30-25 win against Cardiff Blues at the Arms Park on Friday night but the match ended in controversy with the visitors appearing to have an extra man on the field for a passage of play in the closing minute.
With replacement prop Luca Redolfini in the sin bin, Dario Chistolini was called back on to complete the front row for a scrum, without anyone making way for him until the vital phase was over. That said, the visitors, inspired by New Zealand scrum-half Brendon Leonard, were well worth their 30-25 success, crossing for three tries to the Blues' second-minute effort, made by fly-half Rhys Patchell for centre Dafydd Hewitt, Leigh Halfpenny converting. Halfpenny, returning to action for the first time since his Player of the Series contribution to the British and Irish Lions' triumph in Australia, supplied 20 points with the boot, but it was to no avail.
Glasgow made it three wins in a row and a first in eight attempts against Leinster as they claimed a 12-6 victory at the Scotstoun Stadium. Glasgow edged ahead at half time thanks to a Chris Fusaro try converted by Stuart Hogg in the 39th minute, after Jimmy Gopperth's penalty had given Leinster an early lead. The Warriors then dominated the second half but, due largely to three separate kickers missing six shots at goal, they were dependent on a late try from Jerry Yanuyanutawa to give them the win after Gopperth's second penalty cut their lead to just a point.
Ospreys kept the pressure on the league leaders with a six-try 44-10 victory over Edinburgh at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday night. The 2012 champions scored five tries as they made light work of a disappointing Edinburgh outfit who were second best throughout. Richard Hibbard and Eli Walker both scored twice, with Jeff Hassler claiming the first try after just two minutes and Matthew Morgan completing the rout, while Dan Biggar added 12 points from the tee.
Munster were knocked off the top of the RaboDirect PRO12 table as they were upset 29-19 by Benetton Treviso in Italy. Ludovico Nitoglia had two tries while Mat Berquist kept the points flowing from his boot as Munster missed out on the chance to become the first side ever to begin a league season with maximum points from their opening three games. Keith Earls and Stephen Archer both crossed Munster, but ill discipline cost them as Berquist amassed 19 points, scoring five penalties, while three different Munster players endured spells in the sin bin.
Elsewhere, Newport Gwent Dragons continued their great start to the season by securing a 23-16 win in a titanic Welsh derby with the Scarlets at Rodney Parade.Both sides they played some excellent rugby throughout a fantastic match which saw Dragons prop Phil Price, on his 50th game for the side, and fullback Dan Evans cross for the home region while centre Scott Williams got a cracker in reply. Ex-Wales wing Tom Prydie booted two long-range penalties, with fly-half Jason Tovey adding both home conversions and a penalty. Wales outside-half Rhys Priestland booted three Scarlets penalties and converted Williams' try but, despite some intense pressure in the final throes of the game when a converted try would have drawn it, the Scarlets could not cross again.
In the final game of the weekend, Ulster finally opened their account with a 15-8 victory over Connacht in Galway. Connacht led 7-5 at the break thanks to a Dan Parks try that he also converted with Ulster remaining in touch with a try from winger Mike Allen. Ulster fly-half Paddy Jackson put a disappointing first 40 minutes behind him after the break by slotting two penalties either side of a try that he also converted with his 13-point haul enough to decide this first Irish interprovincial derby of the season.
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