United Rugby Championship: Munster, Edinburgh and Stormers pick up key wins

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 Credit: PA Images
Credit: PA Images

Munster picked up a priceless 24-17 victory over Ulster on Friday in what is the latter’s first United Rugby Championship loss on home soil this season.

Tries from prop Stephen Archer and wing Keith Earls in the first half were added to by the boot of Joey Carbery as Munster claimed a vital triumph.

Ulster‘s tries came via hooker Rob Herring and back-row Sean Reidy as defeat sees them drop from second place to fourth position in the standings.

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Ulster scrum-half John Cooney opened the scoring with a seventh-minute penalty, but Munster levelled it four minutes later through pivot Carbery.

Munster then claimed the next score just after the 20-minute mark when the visitors put a penalty to the corner where, from an untidy lineout, prop Archer drove over from close range.

Carbery’s conversion put them 10-3 ahead and this became 15-3 on 27 minutes.

Munster moved the ball at pace from left to right, with Damian de Allende and Carbery combining for former Ulster centre Chris Farrell to provide the assist for Keith Earls to touch down. Carbery missed the conversion.

Though Ulster battled to get back into the game, with Robert Baloucoune looking dangerous and Cooney making some determined runs, they made no inroads on the scoreboard as the opening half ended with Munster maintaining momentum and staying 12 points in front.

Ulster skipper Iain Henderson did not return for the second half and Munster got the first score through a Carbery penalty.

Ulster were given hope on 47 minutes when a terrific take by Stuart McCloskey launched an attack which led to a penalty and, in turn, saw Herring touching down from the resulting maul. Cooney also converted to cut Munster’s lead to 18-10.

Carbery kicked his third penalty just short of the hour, but – with barely five minutes left on the clock – Reidy scored close in for Ulster after Shane Daly’s yellow card, and Nathan Doak’s conversion cut Munster’s lead to four.

However, with a minute to go, Carbery landed his fourth penalty to secure the contest.

Edinburgh sneak narrow win over Zebre Parma

Edinburgh were pushed all the way by basement club Zebre Parma in a 29-26 victory that strengthens their grasp on a URC play-off place.

Their unbeaten record at home this season remains intact, and the bonus point keeps them in the hunt for a top-four finish, but the hosts made heavy weather of this match at the DAM Health Stadium.

It started brightly enough for Mike Blair’s men and they snatched the lead inside the first minute when Blair Kinghorn caught Zebre napping with a grubber kick into the corner and Mark Bennett raced through to score.

Jaco van der Walt added the extras, and the hosts continued to dominate for the next 10 minutes, but they then let Zebre right back into it with some crazy indiscipline.

First, Freddie Owsley gave away an unnecessary penalty for taking out an opponent as they chased a Zebre kick downfield.

Then Glen Young coughed up a penalty try for a neck-high tackle on Simone Gesi – and the second-row was lucky that it was a yellow rather than a red card brandished by referee Frank Murphy.

Zebre took the lead when Gabriele Venditti offloaded out of contact to send Junior Laloifi over, although Antonio Rizzi couldn’t manage the tricky conversion.

That jolt brought Edinburgh back to life, and they regained the lead just before the break when Henry Pyrgos broke from the base of a scrum and Cammy Hutchison finished the try off.

But the home team slipped back into their poor habits of the first half when they conceded an easy try within two minutes of the restart, scored by Gesi who handed off Hamish Watson and Mesu Kunavula then rounded Van der Walt.

And it got worse for the hosts when Marshall Sykes was red-carded after his shoulder made contact with Danilo Fischetti’s head during a ruck clear-out.

Edinburgh dug deep and got themselves back in front when Pierre Schoeman burrowed over from close range, with Van der Walt converting.

Zebre then gifted Edinburgh the bonus-point try when replacement scrum-half Chris Cook threw a loose pass which was picked up by Bennett, who ran it in from 60 yards.

But the visitors would not lie down and they tied it with five minutes to go when David Sisi burrowed over between the posts and Tim O’Malley scored an unconventional drop-goal conversion, only for Edinburgh to clinch it when Van der Walt slotted a not rolling away penalty 30 second later.

Stormers impress at home to Glasgow Warriors

In the early game, Glasgow fell behind the Stormers in the race for a home United Rugby Championship quarter-final as they suffered a 32-7 defeat in Cape Town.

The Warriors went into the fixture in third place, with the top four earning home advantage in the first play-off round, but they have now been leapfrogged by their four-try hosts.

A 19th-minute Jack Dempsey try had seen Glasgow open up a 7-0 lead at the DHL Stadium, but they conceded 32 unanswered points from that point to come away empty-handed.

Rikus Pretorius, Herschel Jantjies, Leolin Zas and Evan Roos went over for the Stormers, while Manie Libbok kicked 12 points.

Libbok missed the target with an early penalty and it was Glasgow who drew first blood when Dempsey crossed at the end of the opening quarter.

After hooker Johnny Matthews was stopped just short following a barnstorming run down the left wing, the Warriors were rewarded for turning down three points when Dempsey eventually found a way over, with Ross Thompson adding the extras.

The visitors had lost wing Kyle Steyn to injury four minutes earlier and saw their lead reduced to four points when Libbok opened his account shortly after the half-hour, before an excellent try had the hosts in front.

Damian Willemse received the ball wide on the left but drifted back inside, patiently seeking the right pass, and found Pretorius picking the perfect line to breach the Glasgow defence and touch down.

Libbok made it 10-7 from the tee and added a penalty after a subsequent onslaught failed to deliver a second try.

Pretorius, who came off worse after making a crunching tackle in the first half, did not emerge for the second and Scarra Ntubeni followed him to the treatment room after pulling up with an apparent calf issue.

The injuries did not subdue the home side, however, with Jantjies going over after taking the inside pass from Hacjivah Dayimani and URC top try scorer Zas crossing in the left corner for his 10th of the season.

Glasgow lost Josh McKay to the sin-bin 12 minutes from time to end any lingering hopes of a Warriors fightback, and Roos powered over for the bonus point in the final minute, with Libbok adding the conversion.

READ MORE: Robbie Henshaw: Leinster and Ireland centre re-signs until July 2025

The article United Rugby Championship: Munster, Edinburgh and Stormers pick up key wins appeared first on Planetrugby.com.

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