United Rugby Championship holders Munster thrashed the Dragons 45-14 at Musgrave Park to continue their unbeaten start to the season on Saturday.
Munster ran in seven tries to the Dragons’ two in a resounding victory in Cork, bouncing back from their 13-all draw with Benetton in round two on the road.
Rory Scannell, Gavin Coombes and Calvin Nash all scored tries in the first 40 for Munster, with Tony Butler adding one conversion. Thomas Ahern, Craig Casey, Brian Gleeson and Nash added further crossings to secure the comprehensive win as Butler slotted six more points from the tee, and Jack Crowley added two of his own.
Ryan Woodman’s first-half score looked to have kept the Dragons in the game but they were well beaten, with Aki Seiuli grabbing a consolation try in the closing stages.
The 21-year-old Butler made his first competitive start for Munster, spearheading an early break which ended with Dragons unfortunately losing Angus O’Brien to injury.
Dane Blacker was introduced at scrum-half with Rhodri Williams, on his 100th club appearance, moving to full-back. The visitors held out until Scannell struck in the 14th minute.
Having been released through a gap by Kiwi Alex Nankivell, winger Nash had Scannell on his inside to finish off from 15 metres out. Butler quickly converted.
Number eight Coombes took two defenders with him over the line in the 17th minute, and Nash then showed his pace and evasion skills to run in a superb solo effort from halfway.
Although a knock-on spoiled a promising maul, Dragons quickly roared back through the fast-breaking Williams. Blacker deftly dangled a kick out to left for Wales U20 captain Woodman to collect and claim his first URC try, converted by Will Reed.
Jack Dixon’s turnover penalty gave the Welsh outfit a timely lift early on the restart, yet Ahern made it over in the 47th minute following powerful carries by John Ryan and Edwin Edogbo.
Nice hands from Ahern, Edogbo and Shane Daly allowed Casey to make it 31-7 in his first appearance since the Rugby World Cup.
Bradley Davies was held up short from a lineout drive, before Williams’ textbook tackle prevented Munster newcomer Sean O’Brien from scoring.
Gleeson crashed over in the 64th minute and replacement Crowley’s inviting grubber kick saw Nash double his tally, albeit that he injured himself in the process.
Aggrieved that Nankivell avoided a card for catching Ashton Hewitt high in a tackle, Dragons at least had the final say through replacement Seiuli, with Reed converting off the post.
The Scarlets put their South African woes from the opening two rounds of the United Rugby Championship well and truly behind them as they beat Cardiff 31-25 for their first win of the season at Parc y Scarlets.
Not only that, they scored four tries to earn a bonus point and won the bragging rights from a highly entertaining Welsh regional derby against a Cardiff side that had beaten them on their own patch last season.
Wales World Cup scrum-half Gareth Davies, who was leading his home region for the first time in his illustrious career, was the star of the game as he scored one try and made another in a second-half performance from the home side that turned the game on its head.
Cardiff drew first blood with a fourth-minute try from scrum-half Ellis Bevan that had its origins in a lovely break from Wales U20 full-back Cameron Winnett. Ellis’ half-back partner Tinus De Beer added the extras.
The hosts hit back quickly when centre Eddie James got Scarlets over the gain-line to allow new second row recruit Alex Craig to power over from short range for a try that Ioan Lloyd improved.
Cardiff held the upper hand physically, with their front-row annihilating the Scarlets scrum to begin with, and referee Adam Jones was forced to show a yellow card to home loosehead Kemsley Mathias for collapsing the scrum.
Cardiff made the most of their numerical advantage when discarded Wales prop Rhys Carre showed his strength to force his way over the line for a try.
De Beer added the extra two points and the visitors looked in complete control. But then Scarlets managed to find a way to break out of their own half and, completely against the run of play, Johnny McNicholl sliced through to notch his 45th URC try.
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Lloyd’s touchline conversion meant it all was all-square at 14-14 at the break. Cardiff’s forward dominance fell away in the second half and that allowed Davies to take centre stage, scoring one and making another for number eight Vaea Fifita with a great blindside break from a scrum.
Theo Cabango’s 70 metre solo effort four minutes from time made it an interesting final few minutes, especially when the home side went down to 14 minute with Teddy Leatherbarrow being sent to the sin-bin for a petulant shoulder charge, but it was Scarlets who earned the bragging rights as they picked up their first win of the season.