Munster dominate Benetton, while Lions hammer Ospreys

Munster proved too strong for Benetton as they beat the Italians 51-22 to move into third place in the United Rugby Championship.

Johann van Graan’s men controlled the majority of the game and showed their superiority going 17-3 through tries from Matt Gallagher and Craig Casey.

To the visitors’ credit, they fought back in the first half and were just seven points behind at the break when Rhyno Smith landed.

Province Ireland were by far the better side, however, and Simon Zebo, Gavin Coombes, Jack O’Sullivan and Damian de Allende all went past the second half to confirm a comfortable victory.

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Jean Kleyn’s late withdrawal caused Munster to move Coombes to second and Alex Kendellen to number eight.

Tomas Albornoz hit the left post with an early penalty attempt before Healy opened the scoring soon after.

The first half didn’t catch fire until full-back Gallagher crashed after a neat passing move involving Casey and captain Jack O’Donoghue.

Ben Healy’s conversion was nullified by a Smith penalty, while turnovers blunted both attacks and there were aimless hand kicks.

Sucking up the broken ball with a kick, John Hodnett linked up with Zebo, who fed scrum-half Casey to score and put Munster back on track.

Benetton fired back just before the break, Toa Halafihi claiming an overhand Munster line before Ratuva Tavuyara’s smart kick was spectacularly obliterated by Smith. The try scorer also converted.

In the second half, Coombes won a turnover penalty which Healy stuck in, then the great Corkonian carried in brilliantly before Zebo slipped between two defenders to score.

Quick Benetton substitute Giacomo Da Re did the same in the 54th minute. Smith’s missed conversion left him 27-15.

Healy responded with a penalty and converted Coombes’ close-range bonus point score, following a line steal from substitute Jason Jenkins.

Benetton full-back Andries Coetzee then saw yellow for playing the ball on the ground. O’Sullivan, via a maul, and De Allende both crossed in his absence, with Healy making six successful conversions on a night that saw him equal the best individual points tally in any URC game this season .

Treviso’s fighting side got a late consolation score from Callum Braley, who escaped a ruck at the edge of the Munster 22 for Coetzee to convert.

Lions defeat ospreys in Johannesburg

The Ospreys’ hopes for the United Rugby Championship qualifiers suffered a major blow when they lost 45-15 to the Lions in Johannesburg.

He also continued the Welsh regions’ dismal run of results in South Africa this season, having suffered five successive defeats.

The Lions, bottom of the South African shield, scored tries thanks to a brace from scrum-half Morne van den Berg, while wingers Rabz Maxwane and Edwill van der Merwe, flanker Francke Horn, as well as substitutes Manuel Rass and Andre Warner also hit the ground running, with Jordan Hendrikse adding five conversions.

The Ospreys, minus their Wales Six Nations players, could only get tries from Rhys Webb and Michael Collins in response, while fly-half Josh Thomas kicked in a conversion and a penalty.

The Lions, seeking a third successive URC win, took an 11th-minute lead when Maxwane finished in impressive fashion after a period of sustained pressure.

Hendrikse converted – he missed a mere penalty chance two minutes earlier – as the Ospreys’ brilliant start was obscured in the spotlight.

The Lions’ main running backs – brothers Vincent and Emmanuel Tshituka – sought to gain ground at every opportunity, but the Ospreys also had their fair share of territory, with Webb seeking space at a fast and furious pace.

Thomas opened their account with an angled penalty 10 minutes before half-time, but both teams continued to make handling errors and it looked like the Ospreys would reach the break just four points behind.

But the Lions had other ideas, and incisive midfield work from Burger Odendaal took its toll on the Ospreys defence, and Van den Berg collected his pass to claim an impressive try, Hendrikse’s conversion opening a interval advantage of 14-3.

And things went downhill within three minutes of the restart as a third Lions try came when Horn crashed from close range, and Hendrikse’s conversion meant the Ospreys had a mountain to climb.

The Lions were almost out of sight, but the Ospreys got back into contention after a try for Livewire Webb which Thomas converted.

It was only a glimmer of hope, however, and the Lions secured a bonus point with a superb fourth try started by Odendaal, picked up by prop Ruan Dreyer and then center Wandisile Simelane cut a devastating angle and Van den Berg hit the ground.

The Ospreys might, predictably, find no way to come back, despite Collins’ breakaway score, as Rass, Van der Merwe and Warner picked up an emphatic victory with late tries.

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Charles P. Patton