Glasgow Warriors are now the only unbeaten team in the Guinness Pro 14 after rounds five and six following Ulster’s shock loss away to Zebre.
Benetton were put to the sword in Glasgow with a 37-21 bonus point win, notable for the return of Lions wingers Tommy Seymour who scored within 15 minutes of his first game of the season. The Scottish side followed this up with an impressive bonus point victory over the Cheetahs in South Africa, becoming the first side to beat them on home soil. Glasgow have now won six from six and will be hoping to continue their remarkable form after the European break.
And so, to other unbeaten side Ulster Rugby. The Ulstermen traditionally struggle in Italy and so it proved again as Zebre ran out 27-23 winners to end Ulster’s 100% record. A tight game was ultimately decided by a breakaway Zebre try as they ran the length of the pitch to dot down. The intercept came from a loose pass by Ulster’s Cristian Lealiifano. There’s no doubt the Australian has added a touch of class to the Ulster backline but his passing has been sloppy at times as he works his way back to full match fitness. Ulster bounced back in round six with an interpro win over Connacht. The match finished 16-8 in Ulster’s favour after a try of the season contender. Connacht broke from near their try line before an attempted chip was recovered by Charles Piutau who found Jacob Stockdale before gathering the return pass. Stockdale kept pace with Piutau to receive the final ball and score under the posts.
Elsewhere Leinster recorded an impressive 23-17 win at home to Munster in round six. Munster picked up a losing bonus point but the score certainly flattered the visitors as Leinster were dominant throughout. Rory O’Loughlin picked up two tries for Leinster while Keith Earls scored the same for Munster. Johnny Sexton will probably have been the happiest player on the pitch as he controlled proceedings throughout and also became Leinster’s all-time top points scorer. Leinster’s win over Munster came after a fairly straight forward 21-13 victory at home to Edinburgh in round five while Munster had hammered Cardiff Blues 39-16 at home the previous week.
Scarlets also continued their impressive form, proving that the loss away to Ulster a few weeks ago was just a blip. They welcomed Connacht to Wales in round five and came away 36-27 victors. Second row Tadhg Beirne capped a great display with Scarlets’ final try who will be sorry to see him move to Munster at the end of the season. Scarlets then made the short trip to play Ospreys in a fiercely contested local derby, coming away with 19-18 win. Their tries went unanswered as Ospreys struggled in attack but Dan Biggar’s boot very nearly grabbed them the win. It capped a disappointing two weeks for Ospreys who were soundly beaten 44-25 away at the Cheetahs who are so dangerous on the counter attack with the pace of their back three. Makazole Mampimpi in particular has been in lethal form this year.
Edinburgh put an end to their three-game losing streak with a 16-15 win over Zebre in round five, with a late Duncan Weir penalty securing the points. Hooker Stuart McInally scored a great try after a collecting a pass and running in from 50 metres.
Meanwhile the Southern Kings are yet to win a match after six rounds, or even pick up a losing bonus point. Dragons beat them 29-13 in Wales before Benetton secured a bonus point 31-3 win in Italy. The Cheetahs may not have the greatest defence but they offer so much in attack it often doesn’t matter. The Kings look flat and have quickly become the whipping boys of the league. Dragons will be disappointed they followed up their win over the Kings with a 43-29 loss away to Cardiff Blues in what was an entertaining game. They started well but Cardiff grew into and just had more about them to edge the try-fest.
After six rounds Glasgow sit top of Conference A while Munster are in second, Cheetahs third and Zebre fourth. Cardiff Blues lie fifth followed by Connacht in sixth and Ospreys prop up the table in seventh. Scarlets lead the way in Conference B, with second-placed Ulster and third-placed Leinster just two points behind. Edinburgh and Benetton are fourth and fifth with 14 points while Dragons sit in sixth. The Southern King are, of course, bottom of the table with 0 points.
The league now takes a break for two weeks as European competition begins.