There is now just over a month left until the 2015/16 season comes to a close and nothing is certain. Two rounds remain for the teams to make their moves before the final game in Murrayfield on the 27th of May.
Leinster remain unable to shake Connacht loose, which was to be expected given bonus point wins now seem commonplace for Pat Lam’s men. However, neither team is safe yet but a bonus point win for each side in the next round solidify their place in the playoffs.
Glasgow now seem safe from the fight for a top four spot but their Round 22 game against Connacht is lining up to be a good one.
While the final playoff place seems most likely to go to Scarlets or Ulster, both Munster and Edinburgh still have and outside chance to make the cut. However, it seems more likely they will only be fighting for a Champions Cup place next year.
Leinster 30-23 Edinburgh
Leinster came away with a bonus point win on Friday evening. A blistering second half saw seven tries scored, allowing Leinster to pull away into the lead.
Jason Tovey began the day’s scoring with a kick at goal in the fourth minute after Leinster were pulled for an offside.
Ian Madigan returned a kick four minutes later with an easy shot in front of the posts. Madigan doubled Leinster’s score in the 12th minute from a similar kick.
The match continued in a lack-luster fashion throughout the half, with no other score being made.
Both teams returned with more energy in the second half. Luke McGrath scored the game’s first try four minutes into the second half. Luke Fitzgerald broke through the Leinster defence before drawing in three defenders, creating space to put McGrath through.
Edinburgh were quick to respond, scoring within three minutes. A long pass found Tom Brown free on the wing. The fullback skirted Fergus McFadden and McGrath to score in the corner.
Another quick turnaround saw Leinster score again in the 51st minute. Noel Reid intercepted a wayward pass before setting up Josh van der Flier for a 40 metre run in.
Fergus McFadden made his way over the try-line for Leinster’s third. Leinster went through several phases in front of the Edinburgh line before drawing in a few defenders to make space on the wing for McFadden.
Once again Edinburgh countered quickly, retaliating within several minutes. A very telegraphed play from the Leinster back-line allowed Mike Allen to make an intercept and run in the try from 20 metres out.
Leinster didn’t let their opponents celebrate for long, however, as McFadden sealed their bonus point in the 64th minute. In a similar fashion to his first try, the winger crashed over the line after a long pass out.
Entering the final ten minutes, Edinburgh found their way over for a third try. Sean Kennedy managed to snipe his way through a poorly defended, putting the Scottish side within two scores of a draw.
Edinburgh were unable to make up the difference in the finish however but did manage to take away a losing bonus point with a kick at goal in the closing minutes with a kick at goal from Sam Hidalgo-Clyne.
Leinster hold firm in the top spot while Edinburgh put their losing bonus point to good use to move up a position into sixth.
Ospreys 47-10 Treviso
Ospreys finish with a comprehensive win over Treviso at the Liberty stadium. The Italians discipline problems never allowed them to get a foot in while the Ospreys dominance in possession kept them in control throughout the game.
Ospreys started the try scoring early. The ball was passed wide to Dan Evans, who beat three defenders with great footwork to score.
Treviso got on the board in the 13th minute with a kick at goal from Jayden Hayward after an infringement at the breakdown.
Ospreys lined up their second and third try in quick succession. Dan Baker scored the first of the two, crashing over from short range. Owen Watkin scored the second after taking a great line off Dan Biggar to barge over the line.
Two yellow cards were awarded to Treviso shortly after half time. The cards were shown to Dean Budd and Robert Barbieri for not releasing the ball carrier and slowing down the ball in the ruck respectively.
Ospreys capitalised on the two-man advantage with two more tries.
Rhys Webb caught the Ospreys defence off guard, creating space for Olly Cracknell to score in the 53 minute.
Ospreys scored again two minutes later. A brilliant play from the restart with some brilliant offloading and support play for Hanno Dirksen to score.
Treviso finally managed to get a try of their own in the 66th minute. Alberto Sgarbi ran a good support line to set himself up nicely for the try.
With five minutes left on the clock Dean Budd was shown a red card after a second yellow for a high tackle.
Ospreys managed to use the remaining time to bag two final tries.
The first came as Ospreys pushed towards the Treviso line. A quick pass out wide found Dan Evans in a good position to cross the line.
The final try came with a minute remaining. Ben John collected a kick forward from Dan Biggar to score the Ospreys seventh try.
Both Ospreys and Treviso make no move on the table, staying in ninth and twelfth respectively.
Scarlets 10-46 Glasgow Warriors
Glasgow left Parc Y Scarlets with a bonus point on Saturday evening after dominating Scarlets throughout the game.
Scarlets drew first blood after only two minutes, Steve Shingler kicked over a penalty when the Warriors were penalised for not rolling away.
Glasgow wasted no time in responding, scoring their first try in the seventh minute. Finn Russell gave a chip over the Scarlets defence before collecting the ball himself to claim an impressive try.
Russell furthered the Warriors’ lead near the midpoint of the half after Scarlets were pulled for an offside.
Russell scored again five minutes later, this time, another try. Henry Pyrgos made a dart on the blindside and gave a pass to Russell, who made an erratic dive into the corner for the try.
Liam Williams got Scarlets first try at the 30-minute mark. The fullback took a good running line before dancing his way by the Glasgow defence to score under the posts.
Glasgow managed the squeeze one more score into the half. The Warriors turned the ball over then flung it out to Lee Jones, who showed his pace to score in the corner.
Glasgow locked down the bonus point one minute into the second half. Russell made good use of an overlap to help Tommy Seymour make a line break. Seymour offloaded to Pyrgos who ran in the last five metres.
The Warriors scored three more tries for good measure, periodically in the 55th, 65th and 75th minutes.
Mark Bennett scored the first. The centre scooped up a loose ball to walk in a try unopposed from 20 metres out.
The second went to Seymour. Leone Nakarawa gave a good offload to the winger, who beat the last defender to score.
Lee Jones scored the game’s final try .Russell almost managed to get over for a hat-trick but was brought down a metre short, letting Jones get over in the next phase.
Glasgow now look clear of the fight for a semi-final place, sitting six points above fourth while Scarlets fall out of a playoff position into fifth.
Zebre 17-47 Ulster
Ulster secured a much-needed win in the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi. Zebre were unable to match Ulster’s intensity, giving the Irish side an advantage from the kick-off.
Ruan Pienaar started Ulster’s scoring early with a try in the second minute. Paddy Jackson made the break before passing back inside to Pienaar for what was a very easy looking try.
Zebre didn’t let Ulster get too far ahead too early, claiming a try back in the 6th minute. Guglielmo Palazanni scored after retrieving the ball from the back of a rolling maul.
Ulster’s second try came after only 12 minutes. The returning Tommy Bowe took a good line off Jackson to score under the posts.
Zebre scraped a few points back after 18 minutes as Carlo Canna kicked over a penalty from in front of the Ulster posts.
Not wanting to leave too long a break between tries, Ulster scored again in the 24th minute. Pienaar gave a grubber kick through the Zebre defenders for Craig Gilroy to collect and touch down.
Ulster took their bonus point before the end of the half. With a minute left on the clock, Man-of-the-Match, Jared Payne touched down after an extremely quick pass from Bowe.
Payne scored again two minutes into the second half. Bowe made a break from the halfway line and reached the 22′ before passing back inside to Stuart Olding, who sent another pass out to Payne for the try.
Payne took his hat-trick in the 51st minute. A sneaky pass from Olding to Gilroy allowed the winger to make a break, setting up Payne for Ulster’s sixth try.
Zebre took another try back at the midpoint of the half. Ulrich Beyers intercepted a stray pass from Payne to run in the try from the 22′.
Ulster found their way over the try-line once more before the final whistle. A wayward pass was intercepted by Payne and a quick offload put Tommy Bowe in the clear to make a sprint for the line from inside his own half.
Ulster move back up into fourth place while Zebre remain second from the bottom, just above their Italian partners.
Connacht 35-14 Munster
Connacht struck back against Munster for a massive win in Galway on Saturday night. Connacht claimed a bonus point over their fellow Irish team responding well to Munster’s early lead.
Connacht were first on the scoreboard after nine minutes of play. CJ Stander was caught with his hands in the ruck, allowing Shane O’Leary to but over a kick from 40 metres out.
Munster responded with a try two minutes later. Jack O’Donoghue made a break with Simon Zebo on his shoulder. Zebo beat the last two defenders to touch down for Munster’s first try.
Connacht clawed another few points with a second penalty for the same infringement. O’Leary made easy work of the kick from 20 metres out.
With 24 minutes played Munster went eight points in front. Munster powered over the line with a maul. Mike Sherry had the ball in hand as they crossed the line.
Things began to go downhill for Munster just after the 30-minute mark. James Cronin was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements in the ruck.
Connacht took good advantage of the extra man, taking the lead before half-time. Niyi Adeolokun scored Connacht’s first try after a superb offload from Finlay Bealham. The winger walked by three Munster players to get over the line.
Munster were shown a second yellow at the 40-minute mark. Billy Holland was sent to the sin-bin for not rolling away from the ball carrier. Connacht then opted for a scrum against Munster’s six-man pack. Connacht drove them back with ease, forcing referee Ben Whitehouse to award a penalty try.
Connacht returned in the second half with a greater intensity, culminating in a second try for Adeolokun in the 55th minute. The winger collected a grubber kick from Robbie Henshaw to put them 11 points in the lead.
Connacht secured the bonus point with 67 minutes played. Ultan Dillane made a break towards the Munster line but was stopped short. Several quick recycles put Finlay Bealham indirectly under the posts.
Munster were unable to create any more scores but held Connacht at bay until the final minute when they were pinged for holding on in the ruck, allowing O’Leary to kick one final penalty to wrap up the game for Connacht.
Connacht stay hot on Leinster’s heels, held out of first place only by points difference, while Munster move down into seventh and their hopes Champions Cup rugby next season begin to falter.
Cardiff Blues 28-8 Newport-Gwent Dragons
The Dragons were unable to keep pace with the Blues, making too many errors to find scores.
Cardiff were first on the scoreboard after a try from Josh Turnbull in the seventh minute. After several phases in front of the Dragons’ line, Turnbull ploughed through the defenders with several passengers clinging on.
Gareth Anscombe furthered the Blues score with a kick in the 13th minute after Lewis Evans went off his feet in the ruck.
Dorian Jones finally got the Dragons on the board with a penalty kick after an illegal hand-off from Anscombe.
Anscombe had another chance to kick at the half-hour mark after an infringement in the maul in front of the posts.
The Dragons weren’t letting too much light get between the two teams, scoring a try in the 33rd minute. A driving maul from Dragons got them over the line and Sarel Pretorius was the man awarded the try from the pile of bodies that crashed over the line.
However, the try scorer was also awarded a yellow card for a deliberate knock with two minutes remaining in the half.
Reynold Lee-lo finished off the half with Cardiff’s second try. Anscombe gave a great chip over the defenders for Lee-lo to collect and score.
Anscombe was rightly awarded Man-of-the-Match, being the only scorer in the second half. The outhalf kicked over another penalty in the 51st minute after an infringement in the breakdown.
The Kiwi then finished off the game nicely for Cardiff. A great back move put Anscombe in for the score right under the posts, kicking the ball dead from the conversion.
Neither team changes place on the table Cardiff stay in eighth while the Dragons remain the lowest of the none-Italian teams in tenth.