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Miserable weekend for Pro14 clubs after Scarlets and Edinburgh thumped

Leinster – courtesy of a walkover – and Benetton are the Pro14′s only victors so far this weekend.

Munstermen Zebo and Ryan celebrate.
Munstermen Zebo and Ryan celebrate.
Image: Dave Winter/INPHO

Updated Apr 4th 2021, 7:11 PM

A BAD WEEKEND for Pro14 sides turned worse this evening after Scarlets were humiliated by Sale on home soil.

The Welsh side’s loss means that Leinster will be the Pro14′s sole representatives in the Champions Cup quarter-finals. In the Challenge Cup, Benetton and Ulster are flying the flag for the League. But that is it.

Scarlets were shocking; Sale excellent in a game that ended 57-14 for the visitors. Sale’s Dublin born out-half, AJ MacGinty, who won a Pro12 title with Connacht in 2016, scored 32 points, the most by a Sale player in the professional era.

Akker van der Merwe (2), winger Marland Yarde, lock Josh Beaumont – son of England legend, Bill – and Raffi Quirke also scored for Sale. 

Trailing 23-0 at half-time, Scarlets did manage two converted tries – Ken Owens and Tyler Morgan crossing for the Welsh team – but no matter how you try, you cannot ignore the fact this was a disastrous result, especially as Scarlets’ side was packed with Welsh internationals.

Overall it has been an awful weekend for the Pro14. By and large, the other sides in the league put up a good fight, particularly Connacht, Munster, Dragons, Zebre and Cardiff.

Glasgow and Ospreys did more than that. They exited Europe on the back of respective defeats to Montpellier and Newcastle; each Pro14 side playing well while going down.

But Edinburgh were awful in Paris today, beaten by over 50 points, conceding seven tries, failing to score even one.

Their loss now leaves Benetton and Ulster as the only sides from the Pro14 to win in Europe this weekend. Leinster, too, have qualified for the quarter-finals after they were granted a walkover following Toulon’s Covid-19 saga on Friday.

Still, as a league you want to see at least half your teams represented in the knock-out stages. You certainly don’t want to see nine out of 11 defeated in the games that took place.

The latest departures, Scarlets and Edinburgh’s, are by far the most humiliating. Everyone else gave a good account of themselves, Zebre scaring Bath; Munster putting up 33 points on Toulouse; Connacht getting 32 away to Leicester; Dragons and Ospreys losing by four points; Glasgow getting within five of Montpellier, Cardiff within six of London Irish.

But Edinburgh were outclassed, outplayed and out of the Champions Cup by early afternoon.

kurtley-beale-passes-to-antoine-gibert Antoine Gibert helped Racing to success. Source: Dave Winter/INPHO

Early on it was a different story, Blair Kinghorn and Maxime Machenaud exchanging penalties; and then the game changed when first Camile Chat and then Machenaud – the latter’s try coming after some decent play in the build-up by Simon Zebo – scored to give Racing a substantial lead.

It would only get bigger. Machenaud, Jordan Joseph, Guram Gogichashvili, Teddy Thomas and Francois Trinh-Duc all touched down; Machenaud added 10 points with the boot while Antoine Gibert and Teddy Iribaren also added five kicks between them.

No doubt Richard Cockerill will regret selecting Scotland full-back Kinghorn ahead of Jaco van der Walt at out-half; no doubt he will regret that his team, filled with Scotland internationals, could not repeat the Parisian heroics of the national side from a fortnight earlier.

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They had chances. Duhan van der Merwe delivered a poor pass to Damian Hoyland early on; James Johnstone had a try ruled out after a knock-on by Jamie Ritchie.

Had they scored those early chances then who knows? Underdogs draw energy from early scores, hotly tipped favourites sometimes panic when they have to chase a game rather than control it.

Well, Racing were in control from the second quarter, Chat touching down under the posts after a sustained period of Racing pressure; Machenaud scoring a try after Zebo, Virimi Vakatawa, Jordan Joseph and Louis Dupichot contributed with some slick handling.

Joseph and Gogichashvili scored from close range; Thomas and Trinh-Duc touched down out wide. Racing race on; Edinburgh go out.

Also out are Pat Lam’s Bristol Bears who were comprehensively beaten – 36-17 – by Bordeaux-Begles.

Bristol were only a point down at half-time after Henry Purdy scored but Mathieu Jalibert scored 15 points with his boot and also got a try. So too did Joseph Dweba and Nans Ducuing. Exeter and Sale are the only Premiership sides through to the Champions Cup quarter-finals.

About the author:

Garry Doyle

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