Ulster maintained their 100-per-cent start in the Guinness PRO14 by beating Irish rivals Munster; Edinburgh claimed Scottish bragging rights with victory over Glasgow Warriors at Murrayfield; Zebre beat Benetton in Italian derby
There were wins for Ulster, Edinburgh and Zebre in Saturday’s Guinness PRO14 action…
Ulster 15-10 Munster
Ulster maintained their 100-per-cent start in the Guinness PRO14 as they began the new year by beating Irish rivals Munster 15-10, although they were made to fight all the way at the Kingspan Stadium.
The Conference A leaders inflicted the first defeat of the season on Munster, the Conference B pacesetters who came to Belfast without their front-line players but still managed to claim a losing bonus point despite trailing 15-3 at half-time.
First-half tries from wingers Matt Faddes and Ethan McIlroy, plus a conversion and a penalty from John Cooney, seemed to have put Ulster in full control.
However, Munster battled back in the second half, despite having skipper Billy Holland yellow-carded, while Ulster failed to register a single point.
Munster’s only score in the first half was from a Ben Healy penalty and they next scored in the 82nd minute when Ulster, a man down after Callum Reid’s yellow card, could not stop Darren Sweetnam from diving over.
Edinburgh 10-7 Glasgow Warriors
Magnus Bradbury’s try was enough to seal a 10-7 win for Edinburgh over Glasgow after a late surge of points at Murrayfield.
The scoreboard remained blank until the 65th minute as a mixture of freezing conditions and sloppy mistakes resulted in both teams wasting a string of openings to strike.
Edinburgh fly-half Jaco van der Walt eventually nudged his side in front with a penalty before Bradbury’s try with 10 minutes remaining left Glasgow with it all to do.
Warriors replacement Lewis Bean did cross over in the final moments but Edinburgh held on to win the first leg of the 1872 Cup double-header and claim four valuable Guinness PRO14 points.
The winning try capped off a memorable start to 2021 for the Bradbury family, coming just 24 hours after Magnus’ mother Dee – a former president of the Scottish Rugby Union – discovered she had been awarded an OBE in the Queen’s New Years honours.
Benetton 15-24 Zebre
Zebre claimed bragging rights in the Italian derby with a 24-15 victory over Benetton.
Benetton have traditionally had the better of matches between the sides and were hoping for a first win at home since beating Zebre in December 2019 but a tight encounter went the way of the visitors.
An early yellow card for Benetton’s Giovanni Pettinelli proved very costly as Luca Bigi crossed for two tries, one of which was converted by Carlo Canna.
Benetton got on the board with a Tommaso Allan penalty and the tables were turned when Renato Giammarioli was shown a yellow card for Zebre five minutes before half-time.
A Callum Braley try was converted by Allan to pull the deficit back to 12-10 before penalties from Canna and Antonio Rizzi extended the visitors’ lead again.
Monti Ioane’s 71st-minute try gave Benetton real hope but the only subsequent scores were two penalties from Rizzi.