United Rugby Championship: Munster up to fifth after Lions win, while Bulls end losing streak with a bonus point victory over Dragons

Munster go back to back in the United Rugby Championship (URC), defeating the Lions 33-3 at Musgrave Park on Friday evening, while the Bulls claimed a 14-29 away win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade. Credit: Alamy
Munster go back to back in the United Rugby Championship (URC), defeating the Lions 33-3 at Musgrave Park on Friday evening, while the Bulls claimed a 14-29 away win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade. Credit: Alamy

Munster went back-to-back in the United Rugby Championship (URC), defeating the Lions 33-3 at Musgrave Park on Friday evening, while the Bulls claimed a 29-14 away win over the Dragons at Rodney Parade.

The result moves Munster up to fifth on the overall standings after they backed up their narrow win over Ulster last week by securing a comprehensive victory over the South African side.

The Lions were the first on the scoreboard through a penalty from fly-half Jordan Hendrikse, but that would be the final contribution the Johannesburg outfit would make.

Hooker Scott Buckley and flanker Jack O’Donoghue scored for Munster, with Ben Healy adding the conversion on the latter, giving Graham Rowntree’s side a 12-3 half-time lead.

Second-half tries by scrum-half Paddy Patterson, winger Liam Coombes, and a second from hooker Scott Buckley secured the 33-3 result for the Irish province.

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The Lions came to Cork having won their last four fixtures outside of South Africa, and Hendrikse’s right boot opened the scoring in the fifth minute.Munster had an early reshuffle with hooker Diarmuid Barron going off injured, but his replacement Buckley crossed from a well-controlled ninth-minute lineout drive.

Leading 5-3, Munster survived an intense bout of scrum pressure – with Buckley twice popping up five metres out – as the Lions failed to force a likely try.

A powerful burst by URC player-of-the-match John Hodnett helped Munster to break down the physical Lions defence, with O’Donoghue able to squeeze over from a 28th-minute ruck.

As the Lions tried to hit back, Darrien Landsberg lost a crucial lineout forward, and then Jean Kleyn stole one just before the interval.

Munster emerged empty-handed from a strong spell on the restart, Alex Kendellen held up over the line, and O’Donoghue denied by big prop Asenathi Ntlabakanye for the concession of a turnover penalty.

Sharp handling wore down the Lions defence soon after, scrum-half Patterson grasping his chance to snipe clean through from a ruck and score under the posts, while Healy converted for a 19-3 lead.

On for the injured Hendrikse, Gianni Lombard missed touch from a penalty and an Edwill van der Merwe break also petered out, with Kendellen replying with a turnover penalty.

While the Lions scrum continued to earn penalties, their lineout was unreliable with Gavin Coombes claiming another steal.

Despite a crooked throw from Buckley, Liam Coombes bagged the bonus point with a smashing solo effort before Buckley powered over from a late maul, with Healy finishing with four conversions.

Bulls secure bonus-point win over Dragons

The Bulls moved up to third in the United Rugby Championship with a bonus-point 29-14 victory against a spirited Dragons outfit.

The South African side made an explosive start to take a 17-0 lead, but the Dragons dragged it back to a deficit of only three points before the visitors emphasised their superiority in the final quarter.

Kurt-Lee Arendse, Harold Vorster and Bismarck du Plessis scored the visiting team’s tries, while there was also a penalty try, two Johan Goosen conversions and one penalty.

Bradley Roberts and Max Clark scored tries for the Welsh side, both of which Sam Davies converted.

The Bulls took a fourth-minute lead with a superb try. From just outside his 22, Goosen collected an up and under to race past two opponents before sending Arendse on a 40-metre run to the line.

Goosen converted and added a penalty before the Dragons’ miserable start continued.

Bulls wing Canan Moodie chased a kick ahead to put Lewis Jones under pressure, with the scrum-half deliberately knocking the ball dead.

A penalty try was awarded with Jones yellow-carded as the home side trailed 17-0 at the end of a one-sided first quarter.

Despite playing with 14 men, Dragons responded with their first period of sustained pressure and were rewarded when Roberts forced his way over from close range.

Jones returned from the sin-bin to give his side a further boost, and they roared back into contention when skilful passing created the space for Clark to slide over in the corner.

A second touchline conversion from Davies reduced Bulls’ lead to just three points at the interval.

Three minutes after the restart, a long-distance penalty from Davies rebounded back off the crossbar, but his side continued to be second best up front and were forced into conceding frequent penalties.

It, therefore, came as no surprise when the visitors scored two tries in quick succession to pick up their bonus-point and seal the victory.

First, from a five-metre scrum, Vorster picked his way through a threadbare defence before replacement Du Plessis finished off a driving line-out.

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