URC Round 16 Review

Stormers vs Glasgow Warriors

With home advantage playing a key factor, the Stormers were able to see off the high flying Warriors.

It seemed as though the visitors could get the win. Some great handling and footwork from some of the forwards put Glasgow inside the oppositions 22. It wasn’t until five minutes later that Glasgow finally drove over thanks to Jack Dempsey.

After the half hour mark the home side were finally on the board thanks to a Manie Libbok penalty. Some great work just minutes after found Rikus Pretorius to go over as the Sotmers took a 10-7 lead. But before half time the home side continued to pile on the pressure. Libbok added another penalty and the home side took a 13-7 lead into the half.

This gave the Warriors some hope of a result and the scores remained the same for the first ten minutes of the second half. It was in the 52nd minute where the Stormers found acres of space down the right hand side to put in Herschel Jantjies for the teams second try. Tries from Leolin Zas and Evan Roos led the Stormers to a 32-7 victory at the final whistle.

While the result was disappointing, both teams lost a back to injury. Kyle Steyn went off in the fiftheenth minute and a crunching tackle in the first half caused try scorer Rikus Pretorius to go off at half time. The win puts the Stormers into second place and relegates Glasgow down to sixth.

Ulster vs Munster

Fridays clash looked to be one of the most exciting of the weekend with Ulster and Munster both still in with a great chance of a home quarter final. With both teams coming off the back of very different European results it looked to be a great game.

An offside penalty allowed John Cooney to slot over the first points as the home side took the lead. But the visitors were quick to respond and after constant pressure, they settled for a penalty to tie the scores up. Ten minutes later Munster were back close to the Ulster try line and the power of Stephen Archer led him over.

After loosing Marty Moore, things got really bad for Ulster as a Chris Farrell break put in Keith Earls for Munster’s second try as the visitors took a 15-3 lead into the break. They also lost skipper Iain Henderson who did not return after the break.

Munster continued to pile on the pressure to open the second half, with a Joey Carbery penalty giving Munster a 15 point lead. But their was hope for the home side as their driving lineout took in Rob Herring for the score. Another Carbery penalty put the Munster lead at 11 points.

A Shane Daly yellow card and a score for Sean Reidy cut the deficit to four with five minutes left on the clock. But another penalty ended the game as Munster took a pleasing 24-17 win with some outstanding performances including man of the match, Alex Kendellen.

The win puts Munster in third while Ulster have dropped to fifth, taking them out of the top four and with work still to do.

Edinburgh vs Zebre

The final game on Friday night looked to be a simple affair as bottom team Zebre travelled to Edinburgh, but it turned into a brilliant game.

It started very brightly for the home side as they took the lead within the first minute, Balir Kinghorn’s kick through finding Mark Bennett for the first score of the game. Edinburgh continued to dominate early as Zebre struggled with their discipline.

But it was the Italian team who cut through Edinburgh’s defence in the 13th minute and great footwork from Junior Laloifi put in Simone Gesi but he was tackled around the neck just before the line. A penalty try was awarded and Glen Young was sent to the bin. Zebre then took the lead when Laloifi scored in the corner five minutes before the half.

But quick offloading and a dominant scrum allowed Cammy Hutchinson to race over and the conversion gave the hosts a 14-12 lead going into the break. Just after half time, Gesi cut through the defence all on his own for a sensational individual try under the posts. Just five minutes into the second half, Marshall Sykes was red carded for a dangerous clear out.

Despite being a man down, Pierre Schoeman drove over to give the team the lead again. Poor passing for the Zebre team put in Bennett for his second try of the game. David Sisi burrowed over to tie up the game. But with four minutes remaining, Jaco van der Walt scored a penalty for the win.

It was a great performance from Zebre as they came incredible close to victory, but the win helps to make their top eight place a lot more likely as Edinburgh sit in seventh.

Bulls vs Benetton

Saturday began with Benetton heading down to South Africa to face the Bulls as the home side were heavily favoured.

Despite this, it was the Italian team who had the better start. A penalty from Rhyno Smith inside the first ten minutes was followed by Tommaso Menocello taking advantage of the Bulls falling asleep in defence to give Benetton a double digit lead before another penalty took the lead to 13.

The South African team got into their stride just after the 25 minute mark and pressure led to Cyle Brink running through before Kurt-Lee Ardense scored to reduce the deficit to four points after another Benetton penalty.

The teams traded penalties after the half before loose passing gave Ardense the chance to run more than half the pitch untouched for the try. From there, the Bulls pushed the advantage as Marcell Coetzee, Canan Moodie and Simphiwe Matanzima all scored for the Bulls.

A closed fist led to Niccoli Cannone being red carded as Menocello added a consolation try with the home team coming out 46-29 victors. It puts the Bulls five points clear of ninth place Scarlets and leaves Benetton with work to do despite a good performance in South Africa.

Dragons vs Scarlets

There were two all Welsh derby’s on Saturday, the first putting the Dragons against the Scarlets.

The game was very tight from the start, with the Scarlets putting on the pressure. This eventually led to Sam Lousi finishing with one hand brilliantly. The Scarlets continued to move the ball well and big holes in the Dragons defence put in Angus O’Brien for a score. But the Scarlets went down to 14 men after Steff Evans deliberately knocked the ball on and prevented a line break.

Despite being a man down, the Scarlets drove in a maul and Ryan Elias drove over for the try. The hosts bounced back when Jack Dixon powered over the line to make the score 7-17 heading into half time.

The hots piled on the pressure after half time with Jordan Williams spinning over the try line before an Adam Waren try gave the hosts the lead with 20 minutes remaining. But the Scarlets quickly began flexing their muscles in attack.

Rob Evans battered through the defence to retake the lead for the Scarlets, before another O’Brien try and a score from Corey Baldwin gave the Scarlets the win and the bonus points away from home.

As well as the loss, the Dragons lost Welsh international Will Rowlands just before the half hour mark and the result puts them in 15th and their season effectively over. The Scarlets keep up the pressure on the top eight thanks to the win.

Lions vs Connacht

Two teams outside the top eight met on Saturday as Connacht travelled down south to face the Lions.

One of the away sides young stars, Cian Prendergast, crossed over for just two minutes into the game. Just five minutes later, the Lions took down a Connacht driving maul and a penalty try was awarded, sending Ruan Dreyer to the sin bin. Despite being a man down, the home side earned a penalty which Jordan Hendrikse slotted through.

Just before the half Rabz Maxwane scored in the corner to cut the deficit to six points. Both teams traded penalties after the half but Jack Carty’s penalty gave the visitors a nine point lead. The Lions fought back and Morne van den Berg cut through the defence to cut the gap to just two points.

But the Lions continued to miss opportunities to win the game and Bundee Aki’s offload put in Tom Daly as the lead moved to 12 points as Carty had sent over a penalty. With 15 minutes remaining the home side scored in the corner before Burger Odendaal broke though the defence to tie the game up with six minutes remaining.

But Connacht showed their class and a poor mistake from Lions player of the season Vincent Tshituka allowed Carty to slot over the winning penalty as his brother Emmanuel won man of the match. While the game does not have much impact on the top eight, it takes Connacht one game away from a sweep of the South African teams.

Cardiff vs Ospreys

The second all Welsh tie was more for pride than anything else, but the Ospreys did return Alun Wyn Jones for the tie. His Opsrey’s side started well and an intentional knock on from Owen Lane gave the visitors a man advantage. But they did not use this advantage and mistakes meant the score remained 0-0 until the 27th minute when Rhys Priestland slotted over a penalty to give the home side a 3-0 lead.

The score remained the same through half time, but it finally started to open up quickly in the second half. Another Priestland penalty drove the lead to six points, but Gareth Anscombe finally got the Ospreys on the board.

After having a try ruled out in the first half, the Ospreys drove over a maul and the power of Dewi Lake gave the visitors the lead. At the hour mark, Cardiff were moving the ball well when Rhys Webb picked off a pass and ran 60 metres for an easy score under the posts.

A smart move from the lineout gave Sam Perry the chance to run over a Cardiff defender for a score in the corner. The Ospreys pushed for the bonus point try, but the game finished 6-22 to the visitors, as both teams hope for a good finish to the season having been ruled out of a top eight finish already.

Sharks vs Leinster

The final game of the looked to be the best game as Leinster travelled south for a very tough challenge against the Sharks. But Leinster made a huge amount of changes. Ireland stars Tadhg Furlong, James Ryan, Caelan Doris, Jack Conan, Johnny Sexton, Robbie Henshaw and James Lowe were all missing as they made huge changes after two weeks of European rugby.

After a pair of missed penalties from Curwin Bosch, Scott Penny drove over for the games first points. But South African star Makazole Mapimpi ran over after an interception and tied the game up after a Bosch conversion.

The visitors extended their lead thanks to another penalty before some excellent foot work from Tommy O’Brien extended the lead to ten points. In the final few minutes of the half, the Sharks reduced the deficit thanks to Aphelele Fassi splitting the defence which put in Jaden Hendrikse so the game went into half time at 17-14 to the visitors.

In the second half, a Ciaran Frawley penalty extended the lead to six, before the power of the Sharks maul put in Bongi Mbonambi for a try with the conversion giving the home side the lead. But another Frawley penalty returned the Leinster lead. But the Visitors discipline hurt them as yellow cards to Josh Murphy and Lee Barron hurt them.

The Sharks took advantage of the numbers and Phepsi Buthelezi scored for the home side as the lead returned to the Sharks. As Leinster pushed for the lead, Kerron van Vuuren was sent to the bin. But Leinster were held up over the line and the Sharks held on to the win.

The win means the Sharks move up to fourth in the table and Leinster’s lead at the top is cut to nine points. But the Irish side will be pleased they pushed the Sharks so close despite a hugely rotated team that is missing a lot of stars.

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