Leinster closing in on fourth consecutive PRO14 Final

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Leinster’s dominance in the PRO14 looks set to continue after picking up another bonus point win at Rodney Parade. In turn, Leinster have picked up 10 bonus point wins out of a possible 12 this season, putting them 5 points clear of Ulster in Conference A on 55 points. Munster remains in control of Conference B with Treviso still unable to pick up a win in the league.

Alastair Telfer analyses round 12 of the PRO14.

PRO14 Round-Up – Round 12

Dragons 29-35 Leinster

The two Byrne brothers were paired together at 10 and 12 with Andy Farrell paying a close eye. Ross in particular was immaculate off the tee along with some smart kicking out of hand. The Dragons had a strong first half with Sam Davis kicking them 15-14 ahead at the interval. However, after the break Leinster where ruthless, scoring three tries with Dan Sheehan scoring the pick of the bunch. The hooker scored with a side step Shane Williams would be proud of. The Dragons did fight back in the last 10 minutes to claim a losing bonus point, although Sam Davis decided a point was enough and kicked the ball dead, prompting mixed responses.

Glasgow 13-19 Ulster

Ulster traveled to Scotstoun ideally needing all 5 points to keep within touching distance of Leinster in Conference A. Michael Lowry was the standout performer scoring a try on the stroke of halftime getting on the end of another John Cooney assist. This was Cooney’s 11th assist of the season (no one in the Pro14 has made more). Lowry himself provided the assist for Craig Gilroy’s try as Ulster seemed to be pushing for a second-half bonus point. However, Glasgow finished the stronger of the two sides with Aki Seiuli crashing over to set up a grandstand finish. Nevertheless, Ulster held on to take the spoils back to the Kingspan.

Connacht 32-17 Cardiff Blues

Connacht ended a run of three successive home defeats with a vital win over Cardiff Blues at the Showgrounds. Rhys Carre’s scored his first try for Cardiff Blues since his move back to south Wales from Saracens. However, another new man in green proved to be the difference this time as Alex Wooten carved up the Blues defense just before halftime to put Connacht in control. Then, when the clock went red for half time, he did it again. The forwards proved to be the difference in the second half as Jarrad Butler dotted down from a rampaging maul with Abraham Papali’i s putting the icing on top. Overall, an impressive victory for the Irish Province.

Edinburgh 10-22 Munster

Munster made it a clean sweep of PRO14 victories for the Irish provinces this weekend after a routine win away at Murrayfield. Close range tries in the first half came from Jack O’Donoghue and Craig Casey to ensure the men from Limerick remained in control of Conference B. Edinburgh responded after the break but it would not be enough. Gavin Coombes, another man on Andy Farrell’s radar, barraged over for his 7th try of the season to ensure there would be no comeback in Scotland.

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Scarlets 41-17 Benetton

Scarlet’s bounced back from last week’s demolition job by Leinster to record their own big win. Jac Morgan scored twice along with tries from Sam Costelow, Dane Blacker, Sione Kalamafoni and Paul Asquith. Jac picked up the MOTM award. It is now clear that the 21-year-old is another one of Wales’s back row prodigies. In terms of Benetton, their struggles this season continued as although Leonardo Sarto and Cornelius Els crossing for the side, they had very little to shout about. It is now 11 losses in a row! On the other hand, Scarlets look in pole position to secure Champions Cup qualification.

Ospreys 10-0 Zebre

It was rather dull affair at the Liberty Stadium but a piece of opportunism from Rhys Webb reminded Wayne Pivac of how sharp he is around the fringes. Both sides will be looking for more convincing performances next week against the Dragons and Ulster respectively. Regardless of the performance, Ospreys will be happy to increase their distance away from Glasgow.

Next PRO14 Fixtures

Benetton vs Connacht

Cardiff Blues vs Munster

Ulster vs Ospreys

Edinburgh vs Scarlets

Zebre vs Dragons

Leinster vs Glasgow Warriors

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