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Celtic League: Week 11 Review

Celtic League: Week 11 Review

Three tight wins for the Irish provinces this weekend saw Munster and Leinster edge closer to the Celtic League’s summit and Connacht earn a morale-boosting success over the Dragons (19-14).

Three tight wins for the Irish provinces this weekend saw Munster and Leinster edge closer to the Celtic League’s summit and Connacht earn a morale-boosting success over the Dragons (19-14).

Ulster, unfortunately, were undone by the boot of the Scarlets’ Gareth Bowen last night as his 17-point kicking haul helped Llanelli condemn Mark McCall’s side to their sixth league loss in ten outings.

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Friday November 26:

Edinburgh 0 MUNSTER 11, Murrayfield
Scorers: Munster: Try: Shaun Payne; Pens: Paul Burke 2

Second-placed Munster maintained their recent pressure on the Ospreys at the top of the table as Shaun Payne’s fourth league try of the season and two penalties from fly-half Paul Burke saw them to their seventh straight win.

31-year-old Burke was subsequently involved in a collision when chasing his own chip in the 38th minute, but although taken away by an ambulance, the former Harlequin flew home with the team afterwards with an improved diagnosis.

He is expected to be passed fit to file onto the replacements bench next Friday when Munster travel to Castres to resume their Heineken Cup assault.

Burke punished Derrick Lee and Alan MacDonald in the early stages on Friday for straying offside – as Alan Gaffney’s side ended the first half 6-0 up, with Kiwi Jason Holland on for Burke.

On 44 minutes, former Natal Shark Payne was sent clean through by the league’s top try scorer Christian Cullen (8).

Just minutes later ex All-Black Cullen looked like adding to his and Munster’s tally but Welsh official Nigel Owens ruled Mike Mullins’ pass forward.

The elusive Lee almost got in for the Scots late on but gritty Munster defence held him out on two occasions.

(15) Christian Cullen

(14) Shaun Payne
(13) Mike Mullins
(12) Rob Henderson

(11) Mossie Lawlor
(10) Paul Burke (Capt)
(9) Mike Prendergast
(1) Frankie Roche
(2) James Blaney
(3) Gordon McIlwham

(4) Trevor Hogan

(5) Tom Bowman

(6) Alan Quinlan

(7) David Wallace
(8) Stephen Keogh

Replacements used:

Jason Holland for Burke (38 mins), Eoin Reddan for Prendergast (53), Denis Leamy for Wallace (63), Denis Fogarty for Roche (73), James Storey for Mullins (74), Wallace for Leamy (79), Tom Hayes for Bowman (80)

LEINSTER 22 Glasgow 16, Donnybrook
Scorers: Leinster: Tries: David Holwell, Shane Jennings, Ben Gissing; Cons: Holwell 2; Pen: Holwell
Glasgow: Try: Colin Shaw; Con: Calvin Howarth; Pens: Howarth 3

Leinster maintained their fine home form on Friday – doing most of the damage in the first half against Glasgow. Tries from David Holwell, Shane Jennings and Ben Gissing saw them to an eleventh unbeaten game at Donnybrook.

Recovering well from their defeat at the hands of the Scarlets two weeks ago, Declan Kidney’s side hit the ground running, chalking up a 12-0 lead inside 13 minutes.

Kiwi fly-half Holwell crossed for his first try for the province since joining last month on 4 minutes. His conversion and Shane Jennings’ barge over in the right corner saw Leinster in total command.

Calvin Howarth managed a penalty reply on 16 minutes, but even that was quickly cancelled out by Holwell, as Glasgow went in 15-3 down at the break.

Former Scotland A stand-off Howarth tagged on another 30-metre effort on 54 minutes. Leinster then looked a little shaky as Glasgow Hawks’ full back Colin Shaw – making his fourth appearance – touched down with eight minutes remaining to set up a storming finish at 15-13.

Kidney’s charges – backed by an impressive league run of five wins from 9 outings this autumn – showed their mettle when lock Gissing was mauled over on 78 minutes for the clinching score and his second try of the league run.

Howarth doggedly rescued a losing bonus point for the visitors in injury time.


(15) David Hewitt
(14) Kieran Lewis
(13) Christian Warner
(12) David Quinlan
(11) Gary Brown
(10) David Holwell
(9) Brian O’Meara

(1) John Lyne
(2) David Blaney

(3) Ricky Nebbett
(4) Leo Cullen (Capt)
(5) Ben Gissing
(6) Ciaran Potts
(7) Shane Jennings

(8) Des Dillon

Replacements used:
Gavin Hickie for Blaney (29-40 mins), Niall Ronan for Jennings (54), Aidan McCullen for Potts (60), Brian O’Riordan for O’Meara (64), Peter Coyle for Lyne (70)

Sunday November 28:

CONNACHT 19 Newport-Gwent Dragons 14, The Sportsground
Scorers: Connacht: Try: Matt Mostyn; Con: Paul Warwick; Pens: Warwick 3; Drop gl: Warwick
Dragons: Try: Gareth Baber; Pens: Craig Warlow 3

Connacht joined fifth-placed Glasgow on 25 points, and kept the heat on Leinster just four points above them as Matt Mostyn’s try inspired them to a 19-14 defeat of the Dragons.

Backed by a gusty Galway gale in the second half, the westerners – with players particularly keen to impress coach Michael Bradley ahead of Saturday’s Challenge Cup second round first leg against Montpellier – kept their Welsh visitors scoreless for the final 46 minutes of an end-to-end encounter.

Connacht’s third win over sides from the Principality in the last seven weeks looked far from fruition in the first half despite a solid opening.

A searing Darren Yapp break set former Newport favourite Mostyn up for a tenth minute try, and Australian fly-half Paul Warwick’s conversion and penalty on the quarter-hour saw the home side 10-3 in front.

Dragons’ Craig Warlow had earlier notched a third minute opener, and subsequent penalties on 18 and 26 minutes brought it back to a one-point game.

Then scrum-half Gareth Baber sniped over on the blindside from a stalled maul on 34 minutes, and although Warlow missed the convert and Warwick dropped a left-footed goal in injury time, the visitors were still 14-13 in front at half time.

They crucially lost centre Steve Winn to a yellow card for failing to roll away in the tackle and Warwick wrapped up the win with penalty strikes on 61 and 75 minutes – running the 23-year-old’s league tally up to 83 points.

Warwick’s haul sees him with the second best strike rate (85%) in the competition, and such form bodes well for his impending duel with Montpellier’s Bertrand Guilloux next weekend.


(15) Matt Mostyn
(14) Justin Meagher
(13) Darren Yapp

(12) James Downey

(11) Conor McPhillips
(10) Paul Warwick
(9) Chris Keane
(1) Dan McFarland
(2) John Fogarty

(3) Stephen Knoop
(4) Christian Short
(5) Andrew Farley (Capt)
(6) John Muldoon

(7) Matt Lacey
(8) John O’Sullivan

Replacements used:
Eric Elwood for Meagher (55 mins), Bernard Jackman for Fogarty (58), Michael Swift for Muldoon (70), Ray Hogan for McFarland (76)

Llanelli Scarlets 22 ULSTER 9, Stradey Park

Scorers: Scarlets: Try: Phil John; Con: Gareth Bowen; Pens: Bowen 5
Ulster: Pens: Adam Larkin 3

Ulster got just the result they did not need ahead of their Heineken Cup trip to Stade Francais next Saturday, as fly-half Adam Larkin kicked just three penalties in a disappointing 22-9 loss to the Scarlets yesterday.

Mark McCall’s side will be disheartened with their performance, as despite leading 6-3 at the break, they let Scarlets prop Phil John in for the game’s only try on 67 minutes.

Gareth Bowen, who missed four kickable penalties in the first half, turned the corner on the restart to end his afternoon with 17 points, including the convert of John’s effort.

Adam Larkin bagged two penalties on 15 and 20 minutes – but with both Scarlets lock Chris Wyatt and Ulster flanker Neil Best seeing yellow for their involvement in a first half fracas, the visitors failed to build on their lead.

Bowen and Larkin swapped kicks in the early stages of the second period, before 25-year-old Bowen’s leveller on 54 minutes.

He made it 12-9 as Ulster struggled to gain a foothold in the possession stakes and with John crashing over after John Davies’ 20-yard drive, the Scarlets had their fourth league win in sight.

Bowen’s fifth penalty confirmed as much in injury time, and Ulster’s lowly rank of ninth.


(15) Bryn Cunningham

(14) Tommy Bowe
(13) Jonathan Bell
(12) Paul Steinmetz
(11) Andrew Maxwell
(10) Adam Larkin

(9) Kieran Campbell
(1) Ronan McCormack
(2) Paul Shields
(3) Rod Moore

(4) Gary Longwell

(5) Rowan Frost

(6) Matt McCullough

(7) Neil Best
(8) Campbell Feather (Capt)

Replacements used:
Roger Wilson for Longwell (46 mins), Tyrone Howe for Maxwell (60), Nigel Brady for Shields (67), Neil Doak for Campbell (73), Scott Young for Bell (77), Bryan Young for McCormack (78)