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Guinness PRO12 Best of the Weekend

Guinness PRO12 Rugby Editor

7 Nov 2016

Key takeaways:

  • History was made in Chicago. Ireland ended their 111-year wait for a victory over the All Blacks with a 40-29 win in the Windy City.
  • Keelan Giles has been stealing the Guinness PRO12 show of late, but  Kingsley Jones believes Newport Gwent Dragons’ own young flyer Ashton Hewitt put his hand up for international selection with two tries in his side’s 21-16 win over champions Connacht.
  • Olympic gold-medallist Viliame Mata joined two of Edinburgh Rugby’s brightest lights Damien Hoyland and Magnus Bradbury on the scoresheet as Duncan Hodge’s side bounced back from defeat to Zebre with a 28-17 win against Ulster.
  • It is five wins on the trot for Scarlets after they made light work of Glasgow Warriors, beating Gregor Townsend’s side 27-3, Will Boyde starring with two tries and Rhys Patchell in fine form from the tee.
  • On a historic weekend for Irish Rugby, Leinster and Munster pushed on at the Guinness PRO12 summit – Munster stunning Ospreys 33-0 at Irish Independent Park and 22-year-old Adam Byrne’s hat-trick Leinster downing Zebre 33-10 at the Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi.
  • Steve Shingler fired Cardiff Blues to an away victory over Benetton Treviso, his 19 points from the tee crucial in a 34-28 win, with the Italians scoring four tries for a bonus point. 
  • Wales struggled against a red-hot Australian performance at Principality Stadium, losing out 32-8 after being dominated in the first half. 

New Zealand’s loss is Ireland’s gain:

Steve Hansen took Ireland’s historic victory at Soldier Field on the chin and though Conor Murray, Jordi Murphy, CJ Stander, Robbie Henshaw and a host of Guinness PRO12’s brightest stars shone, the World Cup winning coach reserved his highest praise for Joe Schmidt.

“He’s probably one of the best coaches around,” said Hansen.

“He’s meticulous in his work ethic, a good analyst of the game and that’s why Ireland want to keep him and why New Zealand wanted to bring him home.”

O’Gara longing for the glory days:

Cian Healy feels the love:

Is Andy Goode getting carried away?

Hewitt to the rescue?

Hewitt was the man for Newport Gwent Dragons, scoring twice and showing all the strength and speed that had catapulted him into Wales contention at the end of last year, leaving Kingsley Jones a happy man.

“He’s certainly put his hand up,” Jones said.

“He did well last season and he might have had a chance to make that tour to New Zealand and got injured.

“It’s great to see him back to form and what a wonderful try he scored at the start of the game.”


BT Murrayfield delight for Hodge:

Duncan Hodge was happy to silence Edinburgh’s critics after dominating Ulster for a 28-17 win and the former Scotland No. 10 was delighted with his players’ response to a demoralising loss to Zebre.

“I was incredibly proud of the guys. We’ve taken some stick over the past week and it was much deserved, but that performance is what we are about,” Hodge said

“We lost the plot a bit towards the end but to keep fighting as we did was outstanding.”

How the Guinness PRO12 stands:

Munster’s superb run of form and their 33-0 win over the Ospreys mean they sit second behind provincial rivals Leinster.

Leo Cullen’s conveyor belt of young talent seems in rude health. Despite losing 12 players to Ireland’s momentous victory over the All Blacks, Adam Byrne stepped up to the plate with three tries that stretched their lead at the Guinness PRO12 summit to three points.

Glasgow Warriors and Ospreys both lost ground at the top after suffering losses, but remain fourth and third respectively.

Dragons leapfrogged Connacht into ninth place after their upset win, while Scarlets moved within three points of the top four with victory of the Warriors.

Upset of the weekend: Newport Gwent Dragons 21-16 Connacht

Jones’ Dragons had suffered five straight Guinness PRO12 losses going into their match with the defending champions, but they battled to victory and may well have reignited their season.

Result of the weekend: Munster 33-0 Ospreys

Deprived of Ireland heroes Murray, Simon Zebo, Donnacha Ryan and CJ Stander, Rassie Erasmus’ side continued to show the supreme physicality that has characterised their recent play.

Dave Kilcoyne was at its centre with two tries and captain Peter O’Mahony continues his fine return from injury – could this be another step on the way to a Munster title tilt?

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