The Irish sides got their United Rugby Championship campaigns started last Saturday with Ulster performing the best of the four.
Leinster Limp Past Zebre
Leinster only conceded 31 tries in the URC last season, but in the opening round of this seasons competition Zebre secured a try bonus point and could have had more. Zebre actually won the second half 19-5, and left 6 points worth of conversions on the field.
The home side and last seasons semi-finalists started well with tries from Luke McGrath and Rhys Ruddock. The Italians were down a man when Ruddock got his secon, and he got another just before half time. Despite being down a man Zebre got two tries of their own around the half hour mark with Kriel and Bruno getting over.
The second half saw Zebre come out strong and take control of the game with tries from Gesi and Pelser. Dave Kearney crossed over on the hour mark for what proved to be the crucial score. Ross Byrne had converted the first four tries, but for this one the extras were not added. Zebre went over again through Smith. Eden added the extra to make it a nervy last 10 minutes. Leinster defended well, but Zebre could have got a famous win here.
It looked very much like Leinster were still in preseason mode, they’ll need to improve quickly to put down a marker early.
Zebre Parma 29-33 Leinster
Sloppy Munster Lose In Wales
Graham Rowntree’s first competitive game in charge of Munster ended in defeat. It was the first time in four years Munster lost to the artists formerly known as Cardiff Blues.
Munster were poor in the opening minutes and conceded an early try from Llewllyn, it wasn’t converted. The Irish side got on the board though a Ben Healy penalty, and took the lead when he kicked another three at the half hour mark. It probably could have been more with Shane Daly going close to getting their opening try of the season.
Cardiff defended well and scored in the crucial moments just before half time. Dacey crossed over with Evans converting. The home side led 12-6 at the break.
Munster were better around the hour mark and crossed over after a few phases through Jack O’Sullivan. Jack Crowley converted to give Munster a on-point advantage with 15 minutes left. Cardiff edged back in front with a penalty from Evans, and would get their third try through Summerhill in the last minute to secure the win.
It was a fairly forgettable performance from Munster with a lot of unforced errors.
Cardiff 20-13 Munster
Ulster Victorious In First Interpro Of The Season
Jacob Stockdale made his return to competitive rugby in a scintillating Ulster performance. Hooker Tom Stewart was player of the match as Ulster’s maul dominated proceedings at Kingspan.
Ulster had five tries before Connacht managed their first. Marshall, Tom Stewart, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore, and Callum Reid all got over for the home side. Connacht’s try was worth the wait with David Hawkshaw creating it from his own 22, Caolin Blade finished it off.
Connacht have a lot to work on. Ulster, while not perfect, look like a team that will challenge.
Ulster 36-10 Connacht
Irish Shield Table
Friday 23rd September
Leinster vs Benetton – 19:35 (Live on TG4)
Saturday 24th September
Scarlets vs Ulster – 13:00
DHL Stormers vs Connacht – 13:30 (Live on RTÉ)
Sunday 25th September
Dragons vs Munster – 15:00 (Live on RTÉ)