United Rugby Championship: Glasgow Warriors thrash Cardiff, Leinster hammer Benetton while Sharks edge Zebre

Planet Rugby

Glasgow Warriors produced an impressive response to last weekend’s disappointing United Rugby Championship opener by hammering Cardiff 52-24 at Scotstoun.

In Franco Smith’s first game in charge, Glasgow were beaten 33-11 by Benetton but the South African will have been pleased with how they hit back on Friday.

Despite a slow start, which saw Josh Adams cross the whitewash for the Welsh region, the Scots were 28-10 ahead at the interval thanks to Fraser Brown, Cole Forbes, Matt Fagerson and George Horne tries.

Kristian Dacey did briefly give Cardiff hope at the start of the second period but Zander Fagerson and Brown scored before Tom Gordon and Stafford McDowall rounded off a superb win for the Warriors.

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Cardiff were leading 7-0 through an early Josh Adams try and Jarrod Evans conversion when Thomas Young was yellow-carded for side entry at a ruck on his own line in the 21st minute.

Brown, Forbes and Matt Fagerson all then scored in quick order, with Horne slotting all three conversions from tricky positions wide on the right to make it 21-7.

Warriors then had to endure a spell a man down when stand-off Tom Jordan saw yellow for a high challenge on Adams, and an Evans penalty two minutes later following a ruck offence narrowed the gap by three points.

But Warriors were not prepared to let the numerical disadvantage slow their progress.

The home team finished the first half with a flourish when scrum-half Horne dived over from close range to claim the four-try bonus point.

Cardiff started the second half brightly with a try from a line-out maul by Dacey, but that was as good as it got for Dai Young’s side.

Warriors marched straight back upfield to score try number five when Zander Fagerson surged under the Cardiff posts.

The visitors lost replacement centre Uilisi Halaholo to the sin bin for a high tackle on Brown just two minutes after he came off the bench, and Warriors scored straight after the penalty was kicked to the corner, with Brown claiming his second from a line-out drive.

Warriors thought they had scored again when Jordan went over on the left, but referee Chris Busby was persuaded by the TMO to chalk the try off for a forward pass earlier in the move. It was a bold call because the conversion had already been taken.

It was a temporary hold-up for Warriors, and there was no doubt that the next try would stand when Jack Dempsey broke through the middle and sent Gordon over.

Liam Belcher scored a consolation for Cardiff with 10 minutes to go, but Warriors had the last word with a McDowall charge-down try.

Dan Sheehan scores four in dominant Leinster win

Ireland hooker Dan Sheehan helped himself to four tries as Leinster had little trouble in beating Benetton 42-10 in the United Rugby Championship at the RDS.

One of a dozen players returning from the New Zealand tour, Sheehan scored a 28-minute hat-trick to give the hosts a 21-3 half-time lead.

Replacement Manfredi Albanese ended Benetton’s wait for a try, but Leinster ended up running in six tries in total as Josh van der Flier, Sheehan and Luke McGrath added further scores.

Sheehan is the eighth player, and first from Leinster, to score four tries in a URC match. The last one to do so was Marcell Coetzee for Ulster against Zebre in November 2020.

Another Zebre comeback comes too late

Zebre Parma had a late try disallowed as they fell agonisingly short of completing a second-half fightback for the second week running, losing 42-37 to the Sharks.

The Italians pushed Leinster all the way in a 33-29 defeat last weekend having trailed 28-10 at the break, and they were on the wrong end of the same half-time scoreline again on Friday.

Reniel Hugo, Kerron van Vuuren, Werner Kok and Rohan Janse van Rensburg all touched down as the visitors wrapped up the bonus point in less than 30 minutes, but Zebre – who were temporarily reduced to 13 men early in the half – responded through Luca Bigi before the interval.

Simone Gesi and Taina Fox-Matamua then went over early in the second period, before Gabriele Venditti and Jacopo Trulla both crossed to set up a tense finish, with Dan Jooste scoring the Sharks’ only try of the second period.

Trulla looked to have pulled Zebre level at 39-39 with the conversion to come four minutes from time, but the hosts were penalised for a block at the preceding kick-off flagged by the TMO, denying Tiff Eden an opportunity to kick Zebre in front for the first time.

After Chamberlain kicked the resulting penalty, Eden was able to salvage the losing bonus point with a three-pointer of his own, with both sides having earlier secured the try bonus.

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