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Hard Yards: Leinster march on, worrying times for Connacht

Leinster and Ulster were on the right side of good wins; there was another troubling evening for Connacht, however.

RABODIRECT PRO12 ACTION continues this weekend and it was a busy night for three of the four Irish teams on Friday night.

Leinster and Ulster were both victorious, though Connacht succumbed on home turf to the Italian challenge of Treviso. Here are all the details you need to know…

Leinster 52-9 Cardiff

Leinster left several of their big-name players on the bench for the arrival of an under-strength Cardiff side to the RDS in Dublin. Among the group was Jonathan Sexton and in his place, Fergus McFadden kicked 18 points in difficult conditions to ensure the win. There were also tries for Isaac Boss, Nathan White, David Kearney, Ian Madigan and Leo Auva’a.

Cardiff were missing their Welsh internationals – who play in red against Australia on Saturday – and had two late injury withdrawals but never looked like causing an upset on the back of a string of handling errors. Boss’ early score put Leinster ahead, McFadden kept the score board ticking over and once White crossed over in the second half, the result was beyond any doubt.

The European champions declared themselves happy with the result, with hooker Richardt Strauss insisting that the fixture was always going to be a “tough challenge” (See Leinsterrugby.ie).

“We said at half-time that we’re letting them into the game with ill-discipline and we managed to rectify that in the second half, keeping hold of the ball and scoring tries.

“There were a number of changes, but that’s the good thing about our squad. We’ve got competition right throughout it and hopefully we can give the coaches something to think about every week.”

What it means: Leinster are top of the table, five points ahead of the Ospreys with an extra game played. Cardiff are fifth.

Ulster 24-17 Scarlets

Ulster got off to the worst possible start at Ravenhill on Friday night – conceding two early tries to Sean Lamont and Viliame Iongi – before securing a vital PRO12 win against the Scarlets.

Stars of the show were Ireland back row Stephen Ferris, who scored two tries, and fly-half Ian Humphreys as the hosts scored 24 unanswered points to defeat the in-form Welsh outfit, who were missing a number of internationals.

Stephen Jones was unable to convert his side’s early scores and when full-back Dan Evans was sent to the sin bin for a deliberate off side just after the half-hour mark, Ferris pounced to inject life into his outfit’s challenge. Humphreys kicked Ulster ahead just after the break before Ferris’ second try effectively sealed the win, despite a late Kieran Murphy try for the visitors.

What it means: Ulster remain eighth after only their second league win in seven fixtures. Scarlets are a point ahead of their Irish opponents on 22 points and down to seventh.


Connacht 13-15 Benetton Treviso

Connacht have been beaten again – this time at the Sportsground by Benetton Treviso.

The visitors established a decent 15-point lead courtesy of tries from Brendan Williams and Tommaso Iannone and some fine kicking by Willem De Waal. Dave McSharry’s first try in Connacht colours gave hope of a comeback with Niall O’Connor adding to the hosts’ tally.

John Muldoon looked like he was on the verge of crossing over for a second Connacht try just past the hour mark. However, the match referee blew for a penalty and though O’Connor kicked the three points, it would be the last score of the match and Eric Elwood’s men had to settle for a losing bonus point.

What it means: Connacht are down to tenth and now have 16 points, while Treviso’s good start continues – they are up to sixth with 23 points.

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