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Leinster move to top of URC table

Dec 5, 2023 08:00 By Dave Hooper
Leinster move to top of URC table
Launch Of The United Rugby Championship, Aviva Stadium 15/9/2021 Pictured is Garry Ringrose (Leinster) Mandatory Credit ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan
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Leinster move to top of URC table after beating Connacht in a dramatic match at the Sportsgrounds in Galway while Munster win and Ulster lose

Leinster scored a two point win over Connacht in the sportsground with a dramatic late surge in the URC game of the weekend.

A compelling contest that swung back and fore and back again, right up to the decisive final play saw Leinster win 24-22.

Having trailed by a point at the break, Leinster were 19-8 up going into the final quarter. Through a couple of tries scored while Connacht were down to 14 men with prop Peter Dooley in the sin bin.

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But scrum-half Caolin Blade crossed over to give the hosts hope. It looked as though they were on course for victory when Ireland star Mack Hansen, making his first appearance since the World Cup created a try for fellow wing Diarmuid Kilgallen.

But with the game in stoppage time, Leinster had one last roll of the dice and made the most of it. Full-back Ciaran Frawley cut inside to secure a bonus point win.

It was heartbreak for Connacht and jubilation for the visitors.

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“We had to fight until the very end there” said Leinster skipper Scott Penny. “Connacht are an incredible outfit and they made us work for it out there”.

“These interpros are always tough and always go down to the last few minutes. This will give us a lot of confidence going into next week.”

Munster Momentum

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Munster coach Graham Rowntree says the BKT URC champions will take huge momentum from facing the league leaders two-weeks in-a-row.

The defending champions claimed a 40-29 victory over new pacesetters Glasgow Warriors in Cork on Friday night.

There were two tries in the left hand corner from 6ft 9ins blindside flanker Tom Aherne, who was named Player of the Match. While impressive Kiwi centre Alex Nankivell also surged over.

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Now Munster turn their attention to the Investec Champions Cup, with games at home to Bayonne and away to Exeter over the next couple of weeks.

Elsewhere, Ulster went down at home to Edinburgh, losing 27-24. In the South African derby, Vodacom Bulls triumphed 44-11 against the Hollywoodbets Sharks in Pretoria. Meanwhile the DHL Stormers ended a four match losing run by defeating Zebra Parma 31-7 in Stellenbosch.

Box office Wales hopeful

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Wales fly-half contender Ioan Lloyd produced a “box office” display in the Scarlets’ 29-23 URC bonus point victory over Cardiff Rugby at a packed Arms Park.

The No 10 spot in the Six Nations is very much up for grabs with Dan Biggar having retired from international rugby. While Gareth Anscombe unavailable following his move to Japan and Sam Costelow is currently out injured.

With fellow Scarlet Costelow side-lined. Lloyd is getting an extended run in the side and is really blossoming, producing a Player of the Match performance in the derby clash with Cardiff.

Lloyd sparked the back line with his assured distribution and showed real enterprise with his willingness to run from deep and take on defenders.

“It was a massive effort from the boys” explained 22-year-old Lloyd after Scarlets turned around an early 14-0 deficit.

“Our biggest theme was getting out there and working for your brothers and we did that”.

“Cardiff are a hell of a team. They came out firing and we went two tries down. Credit to all the boys for getting up from there”.

The Scarlets led 19-14 at half-time with skipper Gareth Davies crossing twice from scrum-half. Cardiff had flanker Ellis Jenkins red carded for a tip tackle on opposite number Dan Davis on 28 minutes.

Final quarter tries from wing Steff Evans and full-back Johnny McNicholl sealed the win for the visitors. The boot of fly-half Tinus de Beer earning a losing bonus point for Cardiff.

As for the two other Welsh regions, they both went down to defeats on the road. The Ospreys, with a lot of youth on board. Picked up a losing bonus point, having being beaten 18-13 by Benetton in Treviso.

Dragons scored a 49-24 to the Emirates Lions, who had second row Ruben Schoeman red carded after 25 minutes.

Player of the weekend - Jamie Ritchie (Edinburgh)

The Scotland skipper led from the front as Edinburgh recorded a notable 27-24 URC victory over Ulster in Belfast.

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