United Rugby Championship: Munster maul helps them past Connacht while Leinster, Bulls and Benetton also win

Munster's Niall Scannell preparing for a lineout. Credit: Alamy
Munster's Niall Scannell preparing for a lineout. Credit: Alamy

Munster picked up a much-needed 24-17 bonus-point win over interprovincial rivals Connacht in an entertaining United Rugby Championship clash on Saturday.

Claiming five crucial match points, Munster’s maul delivered tries for Roman Salanoa and Niall Scannell, while replacement prop John Ryan also went over.

Connacht were level at 10-10 at the break, their try coming from an intercept effort from Byron Ralston with fly-half Jack Carty kicking the other points.

However, Munster built on unconverted scores from Calvin Nash and Salanoa and deservedly took the win, despite Kieran Marmion’s closing score for Connacht.

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Captain Carty split the posts with a ninth-minute penalty for the eager visitors, who had lost only one of their last four clashes with Munster.

Barely two minutes later, Nash struck for an unconverted try, Craig Casey breaking from a scrum and feeding the Ireland ‘A’ wing for a swift finish in the right corner.

The westerners responded to a turnover with one of their own – Bundee Aki and Dave Heffernan held up Nash – and Tom Farrell launched a big break downfield.

Sniffing out an opportunist try, Ralston picked off a Mike Haley pass just as he attempted to tidy up from a Caolin Blade kick. Carty converted for a 10-5 lead.

Four minutes before the interval, Munster patiently set up Salanoa to cross from a well-controlled drive. Joey Carbery missed his second conversion from out wide.

However, it was Carbery’s weaving break that lit the touch paper for Munster’s improved second-half performance, although they had to do it without injured captain Peter O’Mahony.

Connacht full-back John Porch was sin-binned for taking out Carbery, and Munster were unable to convert as Casey was held up and a Jack Crowley-Tadhg Beirne break also went unrewarded.

It took Ryan to drive low for the line in the 58th minute, supported by Scannell. A well-worked maul sent Scannell himself over in the 65th minute with Carbery converting for a second time.

Edwin Edogbo was pinged for obstruction, robbing Munster of a possible fifth try, and a late Connacht rally saw Marmion dive over from a 73rd-minute ruck.

Rob Russell hat-trick helps Leinster past Glasgow

Elsewhere, Leinster wing Rob Russell ran in a hat-trick of tries as United Rugby Championship leaders Leinster outgunned Glasgow Warriors 40-5 at the RDS.

A brace from Russell, adding to Dave Kearney’s opening try, had the hosts leading 21-0 at half-time. Ross Byrne, Ireland’s late goal-kicking hero against Australia, landed three conversions.

Glasgow, who had nine players back from Scotland camp, opened their account with 30 minutes remaining through Argentinian international Sebastian Cancelliere.

However, Leinster replacement Michael Milne bagged a 55th-minute bonus point try, and their eighth straight win of the season was completed by late efforts from Russell and replacement John McKee.

David Kriel helps Bulls to defeat Ospreys

Earlier, Bulls wing David Kriel scored a brace of tries as the South African outfit claimed a 43-26 home win over Ospreys.

The Bulls showed their ruthless streak as they ran in seven tries but the Ospreys managed to claim a bonus point as Rhys Henry went over for their fourth try late in the game.

Nizaam Carr, Gerhard Steenkamp, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje and Zak Burger also crossed for the Bulls, with Chris Smith kicking three conversions and Morne Steyn one.

For the Ospreys, Jack Walsh, Tiaan Thomas-Wheeler and Kieran Williams were their other try-scorers, with Walsh adding two conversions and Thomas-Wheeler the other.

Edinburgh fall to loss against 14-man Benetton

Finally, Edinburgh failed to take advantage of the early sending-off of Benetton debutant Matteo Minozzi as they were beaten 24-17 by the Italians on Saturday.

Minozzi was dismissed for dangerous play after just 10 minutes at the Stadio Monigo but the hosts – who had two spells with just 13 men – claimed a hard-fought, bonus-point win with tries from Marcus Watson, Sebastian Negri, Niccolo Cannone and Rhyno Smith.

Edinburgh twice fought back to level in the second half with Henry Immelman claiming a double but Smith’s score proved decisive as Benetton held on in a nervy finish.

READ MORE: URC: Stormers and Ulster ease past Scarlets and Zebre Parma

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