United Rugby Championship: Tom Stewart breaks try-scoring record as Ulster, Sharks and Glasgow Warriors win

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Glasgow Warriors Tom Stewart scored a hattrick as Ulster defeated the Dragons 26-19 in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Friday evening, while there were wins for the Sharks and Scarlets

Tom Stewart scored a hat-trick as Ulster defeated the Dragons 26-19 in the United Rugby Championship (URC) on Friday evening, while there were wins for the Sharks and Scarlets.

Ulster hooker Stewart claimed his second treble in as many games in a stellar man-of-the-match performance. Tries from David McCann and Nick Timoney, paired with a penalty try and eight points from John Cooney’s boot, steered the Irish province to victory.

Angus O’Brien, Elliot Dee and Rhodri Williams scored for the Dragons in the rather one-sided game.

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Ulster crossed for their first try after seven minutes when Stuart McCloskey and Jacob Stockdale combined to allow McCann to sprint clear.

Cooney converted from a difficult angle, and the Irish province were up and running.

However, the Dragons quickly hit back when Taine Basham made a break, was caught by Michael Lowry but passed off the floor to the supporting O’Brien, whose conversion tied the scores.

Ulster winger Craig Gilroy then crashed over for his first score in over a year, but his score was scrubbed out after the TMO’s intervention ruled that Duane Vermeulen had obstructed O’Brien.

Just before the half-hour, a series of penalties resulted in Ulster mauling over the line with Stewart dotting down.

Stewart was over again from another maul in the closing minutes after Elliot Dee was yellow-carded. Cooney added the two points this time to put the hosts 19-7 in front, which is how the opening half ended.

Ulster secured their bonus point on 48 minutes, and again it came from Stewart after a line break by Ethan McIlroy and an assist from Stockdale.

But the visitors came right back into the game when Dee crashed through from a lineout, Will Reed converting, and then two minutes later skipper Williams sprinted clear though the conversion was wide.

With just over 10 minutes to go, and from a lineout move Timoney hit a strong line which propelled him over the line for try number five for Ulster.

Cooney added his fourth conversion, and it now stood at 33-19 to the northern province. In the 79th minute, it became 40-19 after a penalty try was awarded after Ashton Hewitt denied Ulster a clear try-scoring opportunity with a slapdown on a pass near his try line.

Glasgow Warriors claim home quarter-final

On a wet and windy night at Scotstoun, Glasgow Warriors did what they had to do in order to book a home draw in the URC quarter-finals with one game of the regular season to spare, beating Scarlets 12-9.

It will not go down as a classic but will be a valuable confidence boost ahead of these two teams meeting again in Llanelli in the last four of the EPCR Challenge Cup in two weekends’ time.

Scarlets dominated the opening five minutes and took the lead through a Dan Jones penalty after 24 phases of relentless pressure.

The visitors doubled their tally when Sam Johnson was guilty of a high tackle on Kieran Hardy, and Jones once again kicked the points.

The weather seemed to disrupt the home team more than their Welsh opponents, although both sides struggled to play through multiple phases.

Eventually, in the final 10 minutes of the first half, the Warriors began to find their feet, with some smart kicking from Ali Price, Tom Jordan and Stafford McDowall putting Scarlets under pressure.

The hosts came close to opening their account when veteran flanker Ryan Wilson – who announced this week that he is leaving the club after 13 years at the end of this season – was held up over the line.

Then, with just four minutes left in the half, Glasgow finally got off the mark when Sione Vailanu carried three tacklers with him as he charged over the line.

Jordan did not manage the tricky conversion from wide on the left, meaning Scarlets took a single-point lead into the break.

Second half

Scarlets struck first in the second half, with a scrum penalty handing Jones three more points.

That seemed to be the spark Warriors needed, and they finally found their groove.

Some powerful forward play created a sustained buzz in the Scotstoun stands for the first time in the match, and the hosts grabbed the lead with 54 minutes played when Fraser Brown finished off a line-out maul.

Jordan fired home the conversion, and the Warriors kept their foot on the gas – but they could not find a way to extend their lead.

Scarlets nearly delivered a knock-out punch when second-row Vaea Fifita stole possession from the base of a Warriors ruck just inside his own 22 and galloped the length of the pitch to touch down in the corner.

It was an excellent piece of opportunism and athleticism, but referee Andrew Brace referred it to the TMO, who ruled that the Tongan had swooped for the ball from an offside position. Warriors breathed a massive sigh of relief.

Sharks boost play-off hopes defeating Benetton

Earlier, the Sharks boosted their bid for a top-eight spot and a place in the URC play-offs with a thrilling 43-33 victory over Benetton in Durban.

Benetton were ninth at kick-off – one place and one point below the Sharks – and scorched into a 14-0 lead with converted tries from Sebastian Negri and Ignacio Brex.

But the Sharks were level by half-time as Vincent Tshituka and Grant Williams crossed, and Curwin Bosch added the extras.

Siya Kolisi quickly ended a stunning Sharks move to give them the lead for the first time before Rhyno Smith set up Joaquin Riera, although Tomas Albornoz failed to level the scores as his conversion attempt struck the upright.

The see-saw pattern of the contest continued as Williams collected Boeta Chamberlain’s kick for his second try, and Edoardo Padovani replied for Benetton.

Two tries from Makazole Mapimpi took the game away from Benetton, but the Italians refused to give in, and Albornoz scored an excellent individual try to set up an interesting finale.

But Bosch’s last-minute penalty, which took his tally to 13 points, saw the Sharks home and within touching distance of a play-off spot.

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