Cardiff squeezed past Connacht, Zebre overwhelmed the Kings and Scarlets got the better of Edinburgh in Saturday's PRO14 action.
Connacht 15–17 Cardiff Blues
Two tries from Willis Halaholo and a final minute Jarrod Evans conversion sealed a last gasp 17-15 win for Blues at The Sportsground.
The hosts started the stronger and they were the first on the board, with a penalty from Craig Ronaldson edging Connacht into a three point lead early on. That was the highlight of an extremely tight first 30 minutes, with neither side troubling the scoreboard beyond that. That was until Blues started to turn the screw, helped by a yellow card to Connacht captain, John Muldoon.
With the man advantage, Blues took the lead with the first try of the afternoon. Coming from a line-out, the visitors pushed and got themselves underneath the posts courtesy of Halaholo. The conversion followed as Cardiff took a 7-3 lead into the break.
The second half started in the exact same way as the first, but Connacht again had the better and grabbed their first try. Darragh Leader found the line inside the corner to restore their lead, but Steven Shingler quickly stole it back from a penalty. The scores remained within a couple of points right up until the 75th minute, when Connacht looked like they’d stolen the win.
A maul formed from the line-out and Blues couldn’t hold the bodies back as Shane Delahunt finding the line, with the two from Leader putting the hosts into what looked like a match winning 15-10 lead. But Blues again burst back and they claimed the points with just a couple of minutes left on the clock. Breaking from a scrum, possession was fed to Halaholo and he grabbed his second try of the match. A mammoth kick from Evans put Blues into a crucial two point lead, and that was enough for the 17-15 win.
Tries: Leader, Delahunt
Yellow Card: Muldoon
For Cardiff Blues:
Tries: Halaholo 2
Cons: Shingler, Evans
Connacht: 15 Darragh Leader, 14 Cian Kelleher, 13 Bundee Aki, 12 Craig Ronaldson, 11 Rory Scholes, 10 Andrew Deegan, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 John Muldoon (c) 7 Jarrad Butler, 6 Eoghan Masterson, 5 Quinn Roux, 4 Ultan Dillane, 3 Finlay Bealham, 2 Dave Heffernan, 1 Denis Buckley
Replacements: 16 Shane Delahunt, 17 Denis Coulson, 18 Conor Carey, 19 Gavin Thornbury, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Caolin Blade, 22 Tom Farrell, 23 Stacey Ili
Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhun Williams, 14 Alex Cuthbert, 13 Rey Lee-Lo, 12 Willis Halaholo, 11 Tom James, 10 Steve Shingler, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Nick Williams, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Josh Turnbull, 5 Damian Welch, 4 Seb Davies, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Kristian Dacey, 1 Brad Thyer
Replacements: 16 Ethan Lewis, 17 Corey Domachowski, 18 Keiron Assiratti, 19 George Earle, 20 Olly Robinson, 21 Tomos Williams, 22 Jarrod Evans, 23 Matthew Morgan
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Andrea Piardi (Italy), Nigel Correll (Ireland)
TMO: Stefano Roscini (Italy)
Southern Kings 17-43 Zebre
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium
Zebre struck six tries as they added to Kings woes with a 43-17 win at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium.
The hosts have struggled greatly so far in their PRO14 bow and they hoped to get their season started properly against a Zebre side who tend to struggle season on season. But once again at a sparse Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, they fell to a disappointing defeat.
It was a dismal start for the new boys, as two tries inside four minutes gave Zebre a start not even the most optimistic supporter could have predicted. Tommaso Castello found the line within the first three minutes, Carlos Canna converting. And right from the restart, Kings conceded a second. Mattia Bellini found the line and although the conversion didn’t follow, a 12 point lead inside five minutes wasn’t a bad way to start.
Pieter-Steyn de Wet got Kings on the board with a penalty, but Renato Giammarioli only added to their woes with try number three on 20 minutes. And before the break, Canna struck another penalty for a 22-3 lead.
Tommaso Boni added to that after the break with try number four as Kings continued to suffer, although Godlen Masimla and Luvuyo Pupumpa did give them some hope with a pair of tries. But further tries from Giulio Bisegni and Jacopo Sarto gave Zebre a mammoth and significant 43-17 win.
Tries: Masimla, Pupumpa
Cons: De Wet 2
Pen: De Wet
Tries: Castlello, Bellini, Giammarioli, Boni, Bisegni, Sarto
Cons: Castello, Canna 3, Bordoli
Southern Kings: 15 Masixole Banda, 14 Yaw Penxe, 13 Berton Klaasen, 12 Luzuko Vulindlu, 11 Sibusiso Sithole, 10 Pieter-Steyn de Wet, 9 Rudi van Rooyen, 8 Andisa Ntsila, 7 Victor Sekekete, 6 Khaya Majola, 5 Dries van Schalkwyk, 4 Stephen Greeff, 3 Luvuyo Pupuma, 2 Michael Willemse (c), 1 Schalk Ferreira
Replacements: 16 Stephan Coetzee, 17 Rossouw de Klerk, 18 Martin Dreyer, 19 Bobby de Wee, 20 Freddy Ngoza, 21 Godlen Masimla, 22 Oliver Zono, 23 Jacques Nel
Zebre: 15 Matteo Minozzi, 14 Giulio Bisegni, 13 Tommaso Boni, 12 Tommaso Castello (c), 11 Mattia Bellini, 10 Carlo Canna, 9 Marcello Violi, 8 Renato Giammarioli, 7 Giovanni Licata, 6 Johan Meyer, 5 George Biagi, 4 David Sisi, 3 Roberto Tenga, 2 Oliviero Fabiani, 1 Andrea Lovotti
Replacements: 16 Sami Panico, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Dario Chistolini, 19 Jacopo Sarto, 20 Derick Minnie, 21 Guglielmo Palazzani, 22 Serafin Bordoli, 23 Ciaran Gaffney
Referee: Seán Gallagher (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Andrew Brace (Ireland), Quinton Immelman (South Africa)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
Scarlets 28-8 Edinburgh
Parc y Scarlets
A red card for Edinburgh’s Michele Rizzo proved crucial as Scarlets secured a 28-8 win.
Both sides came into this one looking to bounce back from defeats last week but it was the reigning PRO14 champions who had the better of the first half as they went in 14-8 to the good.
It was a slow start as both sides cancelled the other out, but the hosts struck first blood on 20 minutes courtesy of a Rhys Patchell try. The Scarlets 10 benefitted after a Gareth Davies run saw him challenged near the line, but Patchell darted through to open the scores. Leigh Halfpenny added two for a 7-0 lead, and the lead was stretched on half an hour.
The visitors messed up their own line-out and in a precarious position, Davies this time found the line as Richard Cockerill’s side were the masters of their own downfall. Halfpenny added two, but Edinburgh did hit back before the break. Duncan Weir kicked through their first points and it was followed by a try from Jason Harries. He found a gap after Marcus Bradbury did the hard work, narrowing the gap to six points.
But any hopes of a comeback were soon eradicated with a red card five minutes into the second half. Michele Rizzo left referee John Lacey little choice but to show red when he went through Davies off the ball, appearing to strike the head in the process. And Scarlets soon made him pay for his foul as try number three swiftly followed his departure. A line-out drive pushed the hosts to the brink of the line, and Werner Kruger drove himself over for number three.
The bonus point try soon followed when play went back from right to left after a neat passing move, and Aaron Shingler found the line before Halfpenny again made no mistake as Scarlets eased to the 28-8 win.
Tries: Patchell, Davies, Kruger, Shingler
Cons: Halfpenny 4
Red Card: Rizzo
Scarlets: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 Johnny Mcnicholl, 13 Jonathan Davies, 12 Hadleigh Parkes, 11 Steff Evans, 10 Rhys Patchell, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 John Barclay, 7 Will Boyde, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Tadhg Beirne, 4 Jake Ball, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens (c), 1 Rob Evans
Replacements: 16 Ryan Elias, 17 Wyn Jones, 18 Werner Kruger, 19 David Bulbring, 20 Josh Macleod, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Rhys Jones, 23 Paul Asquith
Edinburgh: 15 Blair Kinghorn, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Chris Dean, 12 Phil Burleigh, 11 Jason Harries, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Nathan Fowles, 8 Magnus Bradbury (c), 7 Hamish Watson, 6 Jamie Ricthie, 5 Grant Gilchrist, 4 Ben Toolis, 3 WP Nel, 2 Stuart McInally, 1 Michele Rizzo
Replacements: 16 Ross Ford, 17 Darryl Marfo, 18 Simon Berghan, 19 Fraser McKenzie, 20 John Hardie, 21 Sam Hidalgo-Clyne, 22 Jason Tovey, 23 Robbie Fruean
Referee: John Lacey (Ireland)
Assistant referees: David Wilkinson (Ireland), Gwyn Morris (Wales)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)