Pro 12 Round 2 Round-Up

the Rabo Pro 12 was in full swing over the weekend.
the Rabo Pro 12 was in full swing over the weekend.

First win for Ulster

Pro 12 Results:

Cardiff Blues 12 - 33 Glasgow

Leinster 42 - 12 Scarlets

Treviso 10 - 21 Munster

Edinburgh 13 - 14 Connacht

Newport Gwent Dragons 15 - 17 Ospreys

Ulster 33 - 13 Zebre

Ulster racked up the first win of their Guinness PRO12 campaign on their home debut by putting Zebre to the sword with some ease despite a shaky first half for interim coach Les Kiss' side.

Ulster crossed the Italians' line five times, with Nick Williams, Craig Gilroy, Robbie Diack, Andrew Trimble and Dan Tuohy all touching down, which gave them their second consecutive try bonus point.

Samuela Vunisa scored Zebre's try but they were ultimately outclassed by the Irish side, who drew 32-32 at Scarlets last week.

Ulster hit the ground running after four minutes when, after Rory Best had knocked on on the Zebre line from Darren Cave's pass, the home side stole the scrum and Williams powered over. Ian Humphreys converted and Ulster were 7-0 up.

But the visitors hit back when sub Vunisa charged over after eight minutes and Kelly Haimona converted. The latter then added a penalty four minutes later to give Zebre the lead.

Ulster's cause was not helped by Humphreys missing a head-on penalty shot on 14 minutes b ut three minutes later, Trimble began a move which ended up with Gilroy scoring on the left and Humphreys' wonderful conversion put Ulster four points ahead at 14-10.

That became 19-10 nine minutes later when Ricky Andrew's pass put Diack clear to score, though Humphreys failed to convert.

Haimona then had a chance to narrow Ulster's lead but missed a long-range penalty and then Ulster were denied a try from substitute Louis Ludik - on for the injured Cave - after the scoring pass was adjudged forward.

Shortly afterwards, Luke Marshall lost the ball on the line for a try which would not have stood in any case as Ulster had infringed at the scrum.

The Italians survived another late Ulster onslaught and the half ended with the home side leading 19-10.

Ulster began the second half defending their line and then had to make do with 14 men in the 55th minute after Andrew was yellow-carded for hitting Brendon Leonard when the Zebre scrum-half was in mid-air.

Still, Ulster had the wherewithal to score when, off a scrum, Paul Marshall broke right and fed Trimble, who stormed in at the right corner for Ulster's bonus-point score. Humphreys added a superb conversion to take the score to 26-10.

Just before Andrew returned came the score of the night when Humphreys superbly gathered a ball on the touchline and launched Trimble through the middle. He linked with Best and with the ball recycled, Humphreys chipped for Tuohy to score.

Humphreys added yet another excellent conversion to take Ulster's lead to 33-10, which became 33-13 with 10 minutes to go as Haimona kicked a second penalty.

Munster bounce back with win

Munster bounced back from their opening day defeat to Edinburgh in the Guinness Pro12 last week by coming from behind to claim a hard-fought 21-10 victory in Treviso.

The home side took a 7-3 lead in the 19th minute courtesy of Simone Ragusi's converted try, but the Irish side seized the initiative through tries either side of the interval from CJ Stander and Simon Zebo while Ian Keatley added 11 points with his boot.

Anthony Foley's men opened their campaign with a shock defeat at home to Edinburgh, but they took an early lead through Keatley's penalty after the Treviso defence had strayed offside.

Yet the northern Italian team, who were looking for an improved performance after a 44-13 mauling by Ospreys last Friday, hit back when Ragusi crashed over in the corner following good work from Ludovico Nitoglia and Cornelius van Zyl.

Joe Carlisle added the extras but Munster narrowed the deficit to a solitary point soon after following Keatley's second penalty.

The visitors then crossed the whitewash for the first time on the half hour, with Stander going over.

Keatley converted the try, while Zebo furthered Munster's advantage in the 51st minute following a fluid counter-attack down the wing after Treviso had lost possession.

Treviso cut the deficit following a Carlisle penalty but Keatley added his third three-pointer to re-establish Munster's 11-point lead and ultimately victory.

Ospreys cling on for tense win

The Ospreys made it two Guinness Pro12 victories in successive weekends but they came close to losing in the Welsh derby at Newport Gwent Dragons.

Wing Eli Walker and scrum-half Rhys Webb grabbed tries for the Ospreys, with fly-half Dan Biggar kicking a penalty and two conversions.

The Dragons had a penalty from fly-half Jason Tovey and four from his second-half replacement Angus O'Brien - who narrowly missed with a late drop-goal attempt which would have won the match.

The Ospreys' captain for the night Lloyd Peers pulled out with injury before kick-off. In came Wales star Alun-Wyn Jones to start his new season and also take over the leadership reigns.

The Ospreys topped the table after a comfortable first league game at home to Benetton Treviso last week but were in no doubt that the first Welsh derby of the new Pro12 season, against a re-designed Dragons under ex-Ospreys coach Lyn Jones, would be a much sterner test.

And it proved to be just that as both sides looked to gain the early advantage in an intense and exciting match.

A dream scrummage for the Dragons that saw former Leicester loose-head Boris Stankovich pile-drive Ospreys tight-head Aaron Jarvis backwards gave the Gwent side a penalty from 25 metres that Tovey booted.

The Ospreys then had the Dragons on their own line at an attacking scrum with a chance to go over but another big shove from the home team saw Ospreys number eight Dan Baker knock-on as he tried to pick up.

Dragons tight-head prop Lloyd Fairbrother and Ospreys loose-head Nicky Smith were sent to the sin-bin, while tempers boiled when ex-Ospreys lock Ian Gough gave Welsh cap Biggar a heavy push, leading to a penalty that Biggar kicked.

And the Ospreys went into the break ahead when Webb chipped over the head of home full-back Lee Byrne for Walker to race in and grab a try that Biggar converted from the touchline.

Tovey came off at half-time for 19-year-old O'Brien and the youngster nearly turned the match on its head towards the end.

O'Brien landed a penalty from 35 metres to reduce the arrears to 10-6 but the Ospreys began to click, especially through the number eight and half-back areas.

And their territorial advantage saw Webb grab an easy try when he saw a gap in the home defence 10 metres from the line and dived past the static defence to score under the posts, making Biggar's conversion simple.

O'Brien again reduced the deficit with a twenty-metre shot after the Opsreys infringed and the tide turned again when Walker, who was outstanding throughout the game, turned villain when he jumped up from the ground after receiving treatment to high-tackle home centre Tyler Morgan and earn himself 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

That could have been decisive as it left the Ospreys with 14 men for the last 10 minutes - and the Dragons tried their hardest to make the advantage pay.

O'Brien kicked two more penalties to draw the Dragons back to two points behind and tried to land a winning drop-goal from

Faloon late show lifts Connacht

Connacht left it late against Edinburgh at Murrayfield but Willie Faloon's try made it two wins from two games in the Guinness PRO12.

Following their opening success over Newport, this time they slugged it out to win 14-13 in a poor game that rarely came to life due to a large number of injury stoppages.

Edinburgh took an early lead with a couple of penalties by number 10 Tom Heathcote, before Connacht full-back Darragh Leader levelled up with a pair of kicks of his own.

Edinburgh produced the best rugby of the game at the end of the first half, capped by a try from number eight Cornell Du Preez that Heathcote converted to help the hosts to a 13-6 interval lead.

Leader pulled back three points midway through the second half before in typical Connacht fashion the visitors put in a late burst, and the winning try by Willie Faloon came from a driven line-out five minutes from time.

On duty for his second PRO12 game, in the first match on the brand new Murrayfield pitch, referee Gary Conway awarded two penalties in the opening six minutes.

The first was struck home by Edinburgh fly-half Heathcote, whereas Leader missed his from tight to the touchline.

Heathcote stuck over a second in eight minutes and Leader missed his second kick nine minutes later.

In between, Edinburgh had seized a grip on the game but the closest they came to capitalising was when left winger Nick McLennan could not quite reach a side-footed kick from full-back Jack Cuthbert before it rolled dead.

Profiting from Connacht's first notable spell of possession, Leader got his side on the board with a simple penalty in 23 minutes.

Connacht were then handed a chance when McLennan and Cuthbert messed up a quickly-taken line-out, but from the scrum-five stand-off Jack Carty's prodded kick was touched down by the home side.

However the pressure pendulum had swung the Irish way and when a scrum collapsed after 36 minutes Leader struck the equalising penalty home.

However there was time for Edinburgh to put in some ferocious pick-and-go before a long pass by Sam Beard found number eight Du Preez on the left wing, and he dived over in the corner. The conversion by Heathcote saw Edinburgh go in leading 13-6.

Edinburgh's scrum problems continued into the second half and 15 minutes after the restart, prop WP Nel, who had replaced John Andress at the break, was shown a yellow card at the set-piece and Leader kicked the penalty.

Just as Nel's time-out was ending, Connacht were reduced themselves, when television evidence saw flanker Faloon sin-binned for stamping.

As the game stumbled towards its end, it came alive when Du Preez hoisted a loose ball upfield and isolated Niyi Adeolokun was forced to concede a scrum five. Du Preez was denied a try off the back of it by TV evidence.

Connacht got upfield and put a penalty into the corner from where the pack mauled over with Faloon touching down. Stand-off Jack Carty failed to convert but Connacht had taken the lead, and they clung to it.

Kearney inspires Leinster

Rob Kearney ignited the Leinster attack as the defending Guiness PRO12 champions stormed past the Scarlets to win 42-12 for their first victory of the season.

Stung by Glasgow Warriors last week, Matt O'Connor's side bagged a bonus point and six tries in all at the RDS Arena with braces from both Kearney and 22-point star Ian Madigan.

Kearney and Scott Williams swapped tries inside the opening 14 minutes, with the returning full-back's second effort and a Madigan seven-pointer moving the hosts 21-5 clear by half-time.

Madigan added his second and flanker Dominic Ryan also touched down while Scarlets prop Phil John was in the sin-bin.

Replacement prop Tadhg Furlong grabbed his first score for the hosts with 10 minutes left, before Johan Snyman hit back with a late consolation try for the Llanelli men.

Liam Williams' early season woes continued as a groin injury in the warm-up forced his withdrawal just a week on from his two yellow cards against Ulster. Gareth Owen switched to full-back with Adam Warren coming into the centre.

The wind-backed Scarlets had the first scoring opportunity in the Dublin sunshine but Rhys Priestland pulled a third minute penalty wide.

Leinster got on the front foot after Mike Ross charged down a kick and Kearney weaved into space in the 22. The pressure was mounting and Madigan brilliantly flicked on a Jimmy Gopperth pass to allow Brendan Macken put Kearney over in the right corner.

Madigan slotted over a fine conversion but the Welsh region replied in the 14th minute, profiting from a misplaced pass by Gopperth as centre Williams hacked on twice and the ball bounced favourably for him to claim an unconverted try near the left corner flag.

Leinster managed to break up a scrappy spell with their second try in the 28th minute. Clever work by Zane Kirchner and Kearney saw the latter prod an inviting kick towards the try-line. Darragh Fanning jumped for it with two defenders and the ball broke kindly for the onrushing Kearney to touch down himself.

Television match official Alan Rogan ruled out any knock-ons before the grounding and Madigan swept over his second successful conversion, albeit with Kirchner having to hobble off soon after.

Leinster's confidence was up and the Scarlets' defence was crumbling, Kearney again featuring with a strong carry before Gopperth's long pass gave Madigan a simple run-in to the right of the posts.

Owen, probably the Scarlets' best player, came to their rescue just before the break when dislodging the ball from Sean Cronin's grasp when a fourth Leinster try seemed inevitable.

Scarlets loosehead John saw yellow in the 52nd minute for taking a lifter out in a lineout and Leinster's bonus-point score came in the very next attack - Gopperth switched play to the right where Madigan's arcing run saw him dart in between John Barclay and Jordan Williams and reach over in the corner.

Madigan converted and swiftly took his tally to 20 points when adding the extras to Ryan's 58th-minute lunge from close range.

The tiring Scarlets were now struggling in the loose and at scrum time and had Ben Marshall been able to hold onto fellow replacement Eoin Reddan's pass, it would have been try number six.

But Wexford youngster Furlong was able to gather a ball that had been ripped free by Scott Williams, close to the visitors' line, to push the margin out to 37 points.

There were more tries in Leinster, however the Scarlets managed to have to the final say when second row Snyman crashed over in injury-time after man-of-the-match Heaslip had been carded for a deliberate knock-on.

Matawalu brace secures Glasgow win

Fijian Niko Matawalu came off the bench to score two tries and inspire Glasgow to an impressive 33-12 Guinness Pro12 victory at Cardiff Arms Park.

Despite dominating the early set-pieces, the Blues crumbled in the last half-hour in a way that will baffle new coach Mark Hammett after last weekend's bonus-point victory at Zebre.

Sean Lamont also touched down for Glasgow, who kept up their unbeaten start to the season after their 22-20 win over Leinster last weekend.

After a minute's silence to honour former Cardiff chairman Tony Williams, who died recently, the Welsh region took an early lead through fly-half Rhys Patchell, who kicked a penalty from the touchline after the visitors had infringed at a maul.

Glasgow scrum-half Harry Pyrgos responded with two of his own as his side forced the Blues back, but the home team, with All Black Jarrad Hoeata making an impressive debut in the second row, were using the driving line-out to good effect and it earned them another penalty, which Patchell put over with some venom.

Despite both teams showing a willingness to throw the ball around, it was more than half an hour before the first try.

Cardiff centre Cory Allen was stripped in a tackle and Lamont raced 50 yards to the corner, barely inconvenienced by Patchell's attempt to halt him. Pyrgos converted to give the visitors a 13-6 lead at the break.

Patchell opened the second-half scoring with another penalty and, when an Adam Jones-led scrum wrecked the Warriors' set piece twice in quick succession, the number 10 blasted his kick over from 55 yards to reduce Glasgow's lead to one point.

The Warriors lost replacement prop Gordon Reid to the sin-bin, but still extended their lead when the mercurial Matawalu, who came on for Pete Horne in the 54th minute, announced his presence by spotting a gap near the right touchline before tearing away for a touchdown.

A third newcomer, Duncan Weir, converted and added two more penalties as the Scots took total control.

With the visitors back at full strength, Matawalu again found space and galloped to the posts, providing Weir with an easy conversion as the Blues defence looked increasingly fragile.

It proved the final score of an entertaining encounter which will send the Glasgow team and their supporters into Referendum Week in high spirits.