RaboDirect PRO12
Munster back on top after win over Ospreys
ESPN Staff
February 23, 2014

Munster reclaimed top spot in the RaboDirect PRO12 table after they defeated Ospreys 25-11 at the Liberty Stadium in Swansea on Sunday.

Tries from flanker Sean Dougall, Ireland wing Simon Zebo and centre James Downey were enough to move Munster back above provincial rivals Leinster as they registered their 13th league win of the campaign.

The visitors had the edge in the forward battle and kicked astutely, while they also punished the home side's mistakes at crucial moments.

And despite Munster spending much of the second half on the back foot, their defence proved more than up to the task.

Ulster edged Treviso 14-12 in Italy. Darren Cave and Robbie Diack crossed for Ulster tries in the tussle at Stadio Monigo but Ulster struggled to build on those, and four penalties from Treviso fly-half Mat Berquist made it closer than it needed to be come the closing stages.

Berquist booted Benetton ahead early on, but once Ulster got their noses in front in the 11th minute, with Cave dashing over and Ruan Pienaar converting, the Irish team were never headed again. Ulster were careless enough to let Benetton stay in touch though, giving away a penalty early in the second half that Berquist booted to narrow the gap to 7-6.

Diack burrowed over for Ulster's second try in the 51st minute, and again Pienaar kicked the two points. What should have then been a formality for Ulster became anything but as Berquist soon sliced into the lead with a pair of penalties, making for the tense finale that Ulster just about survived.

Connacht were denied the landslide success they at one stage looked to be heading towards but victory over Zebre in Parma was never in doubt.

Tries from Rodney Ah You, Kieran Marmion and Eoin Griffin - plus a penalty try - gave the Irish visitors a 27-19 bonus-point win, with a flurry of late points from Zebre seeing them gain scoreboard respectability.

At one stage early in the second half Connacht were racing away with the game at 27-0 ahead, but their hosts finally came to life.

Newport Gwent Dragons inflicted just the third defeat of the RaboDirect PRO12 season on Glasgow Warriors and put themselves within one victory of rivals Scarlets in the table thanks to a 24-23 triumph.

There was only one spell when there was more than a try between the sides as the Dragons went over through prop Owen Evans, lock Cory Hill and replacement wing Ross Wardle against touchdowns for the Warriors by flanker Rob Hartley and scrum-half Niko Matawalu.

Dragons were also on target with the boot via a penalty and conversion from fly-half Jason Tovey and two conversions from full-back Rhys Jones against two penalties and two conversions for Glasgow stand-off Finn Russell and a long-range penalty by centre Mark Bennett.

Scarlets claimed an all important win over Edinburgh on Saturday, with full-back Jordan Williams crossing over twice on the way to claiming a 25-21 victory over the Scots.

The Welsh outfit have played one match more than Alan Solomons' side, but now have an eight-point cushion separating them from Ediburgh and Newport Gwent Dragons.

Adam Warren added a third for the Parc y Scarlets hosts, while Nick de Luca and Tom Brown gave the visitors some hope, albeit for nothing but a losing bonus point in the end.

Defending champions Leinster secured a 34-22 victory over Cardiff on Thursday.

The visitors race into a 14-0 lead after only 17 minutes and it looked ominous for the Welsh region, but they passed the ball about without inhibition from then on and played their part in an entertaining encounter for a crowd of barely 5,000. Leinster ran in four tries to the hosts' three, with Jimmy Gopperth finishing with 14 points thanks to two penalties and four conversions.

Leinster scored first through Jack Conan with Richardt Strauss grabbing their second. The Blues hit back through Gareth Davies and grabbed another before the break with Kristian Dacey going over.

Come the second-half, the kicking battle between Davies and Gopperth continued with Michael Bent getting Leinster's third. Leinster soon clinched the bonus point when Eoin Reddan scored but the Blues had the final say with Dan Fish, who signed a new contract this week with the region, going over.

1 Munster 15 13 0 2 384 220 +164 39 15 5 0 57
2 Leinster 15 11 1 3 359 244 +115 36 23 6 3 55
3 Ulster 14 10 0 4 268 189 +79 25 15 3 2 45
4 Ospreys 15 9 1 5 386 258 +128 40 20 4 3 45
5 Glasgow 13 10 0 3 227 192 +35 21 12 0 2 42
6 Scarlets 14 6 1 7 265 280 -15 25 27 1 5 32
7 Dragons 14 6 0 8 252 264 -12 20 21 0 4 28
8 Edinburgh 13 5 0 8 230 291 -61 21 31 1 3 24
9 Cardiff Blues 15 4 1 10 295 389 -94 20 37 0 5 23
10 Connacht 15 4 0 11 209 306 -97 19 28 1 5 22
11 Benetton Treviso 14 3 1 10 250 347 -97 19 42 0 6 20
12 Zebre 15 2 1 12 231 376 -145 23 37 0 4 14

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