Leinster lose narrowly to Glasgow *

Glasgow Warriors 21 Leinster 17

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Argentinian Bernie Stortoni was the hero of Firhill as his last-gasp try snuffed out the challenge of Leinster.

Glasgow’s quest to make it two home Magners League triumphs on the trot had looked set to be wrecked by the boot of Jonathan Sexton.

But the full-back barged over in the fifth minute of stoppage time to steal the glory.

The opening sparring session was predictably scrappy and disjointed with both sides making a spate of basic mistakes.

The visitors were the first to establish any kind of rhythm and they edged in front with a penalty by Sexton from 30 metres.

Leinster continued to hold the upper hand without looking like making a significant breakthrough.

And they had to rely again on the boot of Sexton to increase their advantage in the 25th minute when Glasgow were guilty of handling in a ruck.

The bulk of the action was being fought out in midfield but the Warriors got up and running on the half-hour mark when stand-off Colin Gregor clipped over a smart drop-goal.

Gregor was back in the spotlight on the brink of the break but this time it was for negative reasons as he sent a penalty attempt wide of the target after Andy Newman had been illegally challenged at a line-out.

Glasgow forwards coach Shade Munro sent World Cup hooker Fergus Thomson into the fray immediately after the restart in place of Eric Milligan.

The switch seemed to inspire the Warriors and within four minutes they surged ahead thanks to a try by prop Moray Low following a pack drive.

It was a moment of joy for the front-row youngster, who had seen a score chalked off earlier.

Leinster shrugged off the setback to snatch back the initiative as Sexton completed his penalty treble.

And he delivered another dent to the Glasgow morale by adding a drop-goal to his tally.

Gregor set up a tense finale by thumping over a 25-metre penalty.

Cian Healy put Leinster back in control when he pounced for a try against the run of play.

But substitute Hefin O’Hare went over at the other end to give the Warriors a fresh dose of hope.

And then Stortoni was in the right place at the right time to settle the issue.

***

Ulster trounced by Llanelli

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Llanelli Scarlets 32 Ulster 8

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Llanelli cruised to an emphatic victory over Magners League basement side Ulster at Stradey Park and secured their third successive winning bonus point in the process.

The Scarlets needed to win with four tries to keep the pressure right on leaders Cardiff Blues and, by half-time, they were three-quarters of the way to their goal.

It was a shaky few minutes to open but the Scarlets soon got into the groove despite one or two moments that were not so memorable for the west Wales outfit.

Irish outside-half Paddy Wallace put Ulster in front with a penalty on 14 minutes but, after opposite number Rhys Priestland, deputising for rested Welsh World Cup ace Stephen Jones, levelled matters, the Scarlets upped the ante.

They raced over for three tries as wing Matthew Watkins was put over by Priestland on the left after an excellent break by right winger and debutant Nathan Brew. The score made Watkins the Magners League’s leading try-scorer.

Ulster clawed back to two points adrift when a long, wild line-out on the Irishmen’s 22 from home hooker Ken Owens ended up near the centres.

From there, the Ulster midfield combined to get a breakaway try from 70 metres as Seamus Mallon grabbed the loose line-out, ran on and gave the ball to colleague Tommy Bowe to run in from half-way.

Towards half-time, the Scarlets turned it on as flanker Jonathan Edwards was put away by Owens on the left before New Zealand Maori Deacon Manu scored his first try since November 5 last year when the ball skewed from a ruck into his hands and he went over for the touchdown which Priestland converted.

It did not help Ulster either that flanker Neil McMillan was sin-binned for a ruck offence just before the break.

And, on 51 minutes, a lovely move that sent replacement wing Mark Jones under the posts, with Priestland adding a third conversion, gave the Scarlets that bonus point.

Now all they had to do was win the game but, with the match slipping away from them, Ulster began to get into gear and played some good rugby to pressurise the home side.

Scrum-half and captain Isaac Boss directed matters but, for all their fury around the hour mark, the Scarlets held firm.

And a penalty from Priestland wrapped matters up despite a late flurry from Ulster in which they nearly scored a try but saw Wallace drop the ball over the Scarlets’ line.

***

James tries give Cardiff win over Connacht

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Cardiff Blues 30 Connacht 16

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Tom James touched down twice as a stuttering display by Magners League leaders Cardiff raised the prospect of a first ever home defeat to the weakest Irish province.

But, despite leading 10 minutes into the second half, Connacht were blown away by two tries in three minutes from 20-year-old winger James.

The Blues began a little casually and were punished when a Ben Blair clearance was charged down and visiting fly-half Tim Donnelly kicked to the corner, where Samoan wing Ofisa Treviranus was tackled off the ball by opposite number James.

There might have been a case for a penalty try, but referee Peter Fitzpatrick called play back for off-side and Donnelly had to settle for an easy kick in front of the posts.

The Blues produced a scintillating handling move, out of touch with the general tone of the evening, the ball flowing right and left before full-back Blair scuttled in for a try he then converted.

The home side dominated territorially, but were unable to capitalise, while Connacht’s rare ventures into the Blues’ half produced two more penalties for Donnelly.

It was first-half injury time before the Blues scored again.

Good work by prop Scott Roberts and centre Tal Selley seemed to be leading nowhere until returning World Cup star Martyn Williams broke hooker John Fogarty’s tackle to go under the posts and give Blair an easy conversion.

Both sides continued to kick away possession and Blues fly-half Dai Flanagan was guilty of a particularly aimless effort, collect by Ireland World Cup representative Gavin Duffy, who raced 50 yards before replacement scrum-half Conor O’Loughlin dived over. Donnelley’s conversion gave Connacht the lead.

Blair and replacement fly-half Nick Macleod each missed long-distance penalties, while acting Blues’ captain Paul Tito knocked on in the act of touching down after a mazy run by James.

But Macleod finally slotted over a penalty when Treviranus was guilty of slowing the ball down, an offence which earned the winger a yellow card.

Another soon followed, when Fogarty used his hands in a ruck, and Macleod again kicked the goal.

Then disaster struck the visitors. Duffy and Keith Matthews collided as they went for a high kick, spilled the ball and allowed man of the match James to dribble 60 yards to touch down. Macleod’s kick hit the post.

Within minutes James was on hand again to finish a neat handling move by crossing for the bonus point try.

The Blues allowed Connacht to apply late pressure which earned a series of penalties.

Martyn Williams was sin-binned but nothing was added to the scoreboard.

***

MAGNERS LEAGUE RESULT: Edinburgh 13 Dragons 19

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