Meanwhile, Edinburgh held on to register a thrilling 24-23 away win over a committed Connacht, Treviso claimed their third Welsh scalp with a comfortable 32-13 bonus-point victory over Newport Gwent Dragons and Leinster bagged maximum points against Zebre.
We look at Saturday’s action!
Munster 31-3 Glasgow Warriors
CJ Stander celebrated his first Munster start by bagging a pair of first-half tries as the Irish province beat Glasgow Warriors 31-3.
The former South African Under-20 skipper Stander came off the bench in the 13-6 Pro12 defeat against Scarlets last time out but he made sure he took full advantage of his starting berth this time round with two tries.
Ronan O’Gara contributed 11 points while Tommy O’Donnell and a penalty score provided the other scores for the home side – Duncan Weir kicking the Warriors’ only points.
Weir drew first blood for the visitors when he kicked a third-minute penalty after Munster were penalised for not rolling away at a ruck.
But Munster didn’t take long too get themselves in front. South African flank Stander enjoyed the perfect possible opening on his first start for Munster by crossing.
O’Gara kicked the extras and the home side were 7-3 to the good before minutes later the forwards from both sides broke out in a spot of fisticuffs.
As the half approached the mid-way point, the Warriors thought they had got themselves ahead. After an incisive break by Sean Lamont the ball went wide and D.T.H van der Merwe touched down but the Television Match Official ruled that he had been in touch.
Warriors flyhalf Weir snatched at a half-chance to kick a drop goal and reduce the margin after 18 minutes.
O’Donnell had a significant hand in Munster’s first score and he galloped over for a try of his own in fine style after 23 minutes.
Flyhalf O’Gara couldn’t miss the conversion from under the posts and after the Warriors’ promising start they found themselves 14-3 down.
O’Gara’s right boot was responsible for three more points as the half-time whistle beckoned, the flyhalf himself obstructed by Michael Cusack to be given the penalty chance.
And the game was all but over before the half-time whistle. A Glasgow pass went astray and Stander picked up and backed himself to race over from distance and touch down in the corner, O’Gara converting expertly from out wide for a 24-3 interval lead.
Munster thought they had got the first score after the break when hooker Mike Sherry went over in the right corner but he was adjudged in touch by the TMO thanks largely to a try-saving tackle from Rob Harley.
However, the home side got the bonus-point score with some typical Munster pressure at scrum-time delivering a penalty try. O’Gara added the extras to put the icing on the cake of a comfortable victory.
Tries: Stander 2, O’Donnell, Penalty try
Cons: O’Gara 4
For Glasgow Warriors:
Munster: 15 Felix Jones, 14 Doug Howlett (captain), 13 Keith Earls, 12 James Downey, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O’Gara, 9 Duncan Williams, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Tommy O’Donnell, 6 CJ Stander, 5 Donnacha Ryan, 4 Donnacha O’Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Mike Sherry, 1 David Kilcoyne.
Replacements: 16 Damian Varley 17 Wian Du Preez, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Billy Holland, 20 Paddy Butler, 21 Peter Stringer, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Casey Laulala.
Glasgow Warriors: 15 Peter Murchie, 14 Tommy Seymour, 13 Alex Dunbar, 12 Peter Horne, 11 DTH Van Der Merwe, 10 Duncan Weir, 9 Henry Prygos, 8 Ryan Wilson, 7 John Barclay, 6 Rob Harley, 5 Al Kellock, 4 Tim Swinson, 3 Mike Cusack, 2 Dougie Hall, 1 Ryan Grant.
Replacements: 16 Pat MacArthur, 17 Moray Low, 18 Gordon Reid, 19 Josh Strauss, 20 James Eddie, 21 Niko Matawalu, 22 Scott Wight, 23 Byron McGuigan.
Referee: Ian Davies (Wales)
Assistant referees: Sean Gallagher (Ireland), John Carvill (Ireland)
TMO: Dermot Moloney (Ireland)
Edinburgh 24-23 Connacht
Stuart McInally’s second-half try proved the difference as Edinburgh weathered a late Connacht storm to seal a one-point victory in what was a frantic finale at the Sportsground.
McInally touched down under the posts after a great break from David Denton with 15 minutes remaining to give his side an eight-point lead.
And although Connacht responded with a try from Danie Poolman, Dan Parks’ missed drop-goal with 90 seconds left proved vital as Edinburgh held on.
Edinburgh head coach Michael Bradley welcomed back his Scotland stars as he named a strong line-up to build on last week’s Pro12 victory over champions Ospreys.
And returning winger Tim Visser pounced on a mix-up in the Connacht midfield to race through in the sixth minute and touch down, Greig Laidlaw adding the conversion.
Connacht responded four minutes later though and capitalised on a line-out as a powerful maul allowed flank Willie Faloon to cross. Parks added the extras to level things up at 7-7.
The visitors then edged in front once more as captain Laidlaw kicked a straight-forward penalty.
But not to be outdone, former Scottish international Parks added a penalty of his own to level it up once more after Perry Parker was penalised for tackling with the arms.
The two bottom-half sides then sought to feel each other out as the next 14 minutes failed to yield a single point.
But Laidlaw showed his international class once more with a sublime chip which found the onrushing Matt Scott who stepped the last man and went over for a 17-10 lead.
But Parks’ steady boot reeled back some of the deficit just before half-time as Edinburgh were penalised at the scrum.
It took a while for either side to get going again after the break but Parks was yet again gifted the opportunity to close the gap, which he duly took as it became a one-point game on the hour.
Edinburgh, however, responded and from their own 10-metre line sculpted an expert break involving Visser, Chris Leck and Nick De Luca, but a finger tip knock-on at the line meant the chance went begging.
But just five minutes later the try finally came as the ball was recycled quickly after a 40-metre break from Denton and found McInally who touched down under the posts.
Laidlaw made no mistake with the conversion as Edinburgh gave themselves some breathing space but a pulsating finish followed.
Connacht came charging back and, after forcing their way forward on the right, spun the ball left for Poolman who went over with Parks adding the extras with nine minutes remaining.
And the Irish side looked destined to score again five minutes later with a man in space but at the key moment, agonisingly knocked on with one point still between them.
The scene was set soon after for Parks who, dropping into the pocket, attempted the drop-goal only to see his effort slide wide with 90 seconds left.
And with the 80 minutes complete, a turnover by Edinburgh on the half-way line ended proceedings as the Scottish side revelled in an impressive away victory.
Tries: Kearney, Poolman
Pens: Parks 3
Cons: Parks 2
Tries: Visser, Scott, McInally
Cons: Laidlaw 3
Connacht: 15 Robbie Henshaw, 14 Tiernan O’Halloran, 13 Danie Poolman, 12 Dave McSharry,11 Gavin Duffy (captain), 10 Dan Parks, 9 Kieran Marmion, 8 Eoin McKeon, 7 Willie Faloon, 6 Johnny O’Connor, 5 Andrew Browne, 4 Mick Kearney, 3 Ronan Loughney, 2 Jason Harris-Wright, 1 Brett Wilkinson.
Replacements: 16 Adrian Flavin, 17 Denis Buckley, 18 JP Cooney, 19 Danny Qualter, 20 Dave Gannon, 21 Paul O’Donohoe, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Fetu’u Vainikolo.
Edinburgh: 15 Greig Tonks, 14 Tom Brown, 13 Nick De Luca, 12 Matt Scott, 11 Tim Visser, 10 Greig Laidlaw (captain), 9 Richie Rees, 8 Stuart McInally, 7 Roddy Grant, 6 David Denton, 5 Sean Cox, 4 Perry Parker, 3 Willem Nel, 2 Andy Titterrell, 1 Allan Jacobsen.
Replacements: 16 Alun Walker, 17 John Yapp, 18 Lewis Niven, 19 Robert McAlpine, 20 Izak van der Westhuizen, 21 Chris Leck, 22 Gregor Hunter, 23 Dougie Fife.
Referee: Marius Mitrea (Italy)
Assistant referees: Leo Colgan (Ireland), Eddie Hogan-O’Connell (Ireland)
TMO: Jude Quinn (Ireland)
Treviso 32-13 Newport Gwent Dragons
Christian Loamanu grabbed two tries as Treviso eased to a comfortable 32-13 bonus-point victory over Newport Gwent Dragons at Stadio di Monigo.
The Japan centre grabbed a try in either half, with Edoardo Gori, Luke McClean and Tobias Botes also crossing as the Italian side limited the Dragons to just 13 points from fullback Tom Prydie.
The win makes it three out of four against Welsh opposition for Treviso, who have also recorded victories over Ospreys and Scarlets so far in their Pro12 campaign.
Dragons wing Will Harries was sin-binned in the first half before seeing red after the break in a forgettable afternoon for a side still without a league win on the road this season.
But it was the Welsh side who took an early lead, fullback Prydie knocking over after just two minutes.
But after some early pressure the home side crossed after nine minutes, Gori catching Alberto Scarbi’s kick ahead to touch down.
Alberto Di Bernardo was on target with the conversion, and three minutes later the flyhalf dispatched a penalty to make it 10-3.
Prydie narrowed the gap to four but Treviso had soon crossed again – Loamanu crossing the whitewash after good link-up work between Di Bernardo and lock Cornelius van Zyl.
Di Bernardo missed the conversion to leave the score 15-6 on 25 minutes.
After a scoreless ten minutes, Harries saw yellow with half-time approaching – and Treviso made the most of their numerical advantage.
Half-way into the Dragons wing’s time on the sidelines, Italy’s McClean grabbed Treviso’s third try of the afternoon to make it 20-6 – as it remained at the interval as Di Bernardo failed to find target with the conversion.
And after the break the home side picked up where they left off with Harries still in the bin, Loamanu grabbing his second try of the match on 42 minutes to secure the bonus point.
Prydie moved the visitors into double figures ten minutes later, grabbing Dragons’ first try of the afternoon and converting himself to bring the score back to 27-13.
But any chances the Welsh side had of a comeback came to an end just after the hour mark when Harries, who had been sin-binned in the first half, rounded off a miserable afternoon as he was sent off.
Treviso once again capitalised on the numerical advantage and grabbed a fifth try, scrumhalf Botes going over to seal a well-deserved 32-13 victory.
Tries: Loamanu 2, Gori, McLean, Botes
Pen: Di Bernardo
Cons: Di Bernardo 2
Pens: Prydie 2
Yellow cards: Will Harries (Newport Gwent Dragons, 34 & 61)
Red card: Will Harries (two yellow cards)
Treviso: 15 Brendan Williams, 14 Luke McLean, 13 Christian Loamanu, 12 Alberto Sgarbi, 11 Ludovico Nitoglia, 10 Alberto Di Bernardo, 9 Edoardo Gori, 8 Manoa Vosawai, 7 Alessandro Zanni, 6 Simone Favaro, 5 Corniel Van Zyl, 4 Antonio Pavanello (captain), 3 Lorenzo Cittadini 2 Leonardo Ghiraldini, 1 Alberto De Marchi.
Replacements: 16 Enrico Ceccato, 17 Michele Rizzo, 18 Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet, 19 Valerio Bernabò, 20 Francesco Minto, 21 Paul Derbyshire, 22 Tobias Botes, 23 Luca Morisi.
Dragons: 15 Tom Prydie, 14 Will Harries, 13 Pat Leach, 12 Ashley Smith, 11 Tonderai Chavhanga, 10 Dan Evans, 9 Jonathan Evans, 8 Tom Brown, 7 Nic Cudd, 6 Lewis Evans (captain), 5 Rob Sidoli, 4 Adam Jones, 3 Dan Way, 2 Hugh Gustafson, 1 Phil Price.
Replacements: 16 Steve Jones, 17 Owen Evans, 18 Nathan Buck, 19 Ian Nimmo, 20 Ieuan Jones, 21 Wayne Evans, 22 Lewis Robling, 23 Jack Dixon.
Referee: David Wilkinson (Ireland)
Assistant referees: Stefano Pennè (Italy), Stefano Marrama (Italy)
TMO: Alan Falzone (Italy)
Leinster 37-7 Zebre
Fergus McFadden crossed twice and kicked five points to help Leinster maintain their Pro12 play-off charge after a dominant 37-7 victory over Zebre.
Having bagged two tries against Argentina with Ireland last week, Jonathan Sexton picked up where he left off to score 12 of Leinster’s 17 first-half points.
Sexton set them rolling with a penalty before Leinster exploded into life with a late flurry, Andrew Conway and Sexton going over and the flyhalf adding two conversions.
With Leinster on their way to victory Sexton was replaced at half-time by Ian Madigan but Zebre had other ideas with fullback Tito Tebaldi stretching over to touch down soon after the restart and Daniel Halangahu adding the extras.
McFadden took up kicking duties and landed a 40-metre penalty before bursting forward to cross, converting the try for a 27-7 lead.
Cian Healy then crossed the whitewash from the back of the ruck to seal the bonus point and man of the match McFadden added Leinster’s fifth and his second try.
Zebre started the better side but just before the half hour mark Leinster got the first points with Sexton landing a penalty from right in front of the posts to make if 3-0.
It was not long before the hosts got the opening try, a great piece of play by McFadden setting up Conway with 34 minutes gone.
McFadden ran towards a high ball and took it on the run, despite the awkward bounce, before spinning his opponent and being dragged down on the 22, with play going out to the right for Conway to go over in the corner.
Sexton added the extras with Quintin Geldenhuys sent to the sin-bin before Sexton got another conversion after touching down himself with two minutes to go to make it 17-0, the try given after being referred to the Television Match Official.
The Italians were again in the ascendancy at the beginning of the second half and this time they were rewarded with Tebaldi escaping Leo Cullen’s attentions to stretch over while on his knees and score, the TMO having a long look before awarding the try.
Halangahu’s conversion brought Zebre to within ten points with 51 minutes gone, but three minutes later McFadden slotted a long-range penalty to settle his side’s nerves.
Madigan then found Gordon D’Arcy out wide who offloaded to McFadden to race clear and touch down before adding the conversion, Leinster leading 27-7 on the hour.
With eight minutes to go, Leinster claimed the line-out and piled forward, Healy picking up the ball and going up the blindside to cross for the bonus point, though McFadden missed the conversion.
It did not take long for the fifth try to arrive, McFadden grabbing his second of the evening after picking up Madigan’s cross-kick and racing clear to dive over.
This time his conversion struck the bar to leave the scores at 37-7.
Tries: McFadden 2, Conway, Sexton, McFadden, Healy
Cons: Sexton 2, McFadden
Yellow card: Quintin Geldenhuys (Zebre, 32)
Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 Andrew Conway, 13 Gordon D’Arcy, 12 Andrew Goodman, 11 Fergus McFadden, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Sean O’Brien, 7 Rhys Ruddock, 6 Kevin McLaughlin, 5 Damian Browne, 4 Leo Cullen (captain), 3 Michael Bent, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Heinke van der Merwe.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Cian Healy, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Tom Denton, 20 Jordi Murphy, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fionn Carr.
Zebre: 15 Ruggero Trevisan, 14 Leonardo Sarto, 13 Gonzalo Garcia (captain), 12 Matteo Pratichetti, 11 Sinoti Sinoti, 10 Daniel Halangahu, 9 Tito Tebaldi, 8 Filippo Cristiano, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Nicola Cattina, 5 Josh Sole, 4 Quintin Geldenhuys, 3 David Ryan, 2 Carlo Festuccia, 1 Matias Aguero.
Replacements: 16 Davide Giazzon, 17 Andrea De Marchi, 18 Carlo Fazzari, 19 Emiliano Caffini, 20 Nicola Belardo, 21 Alberto Chillon, 22 David Odiete, 23 Paolo Buso.
Referee: Andrew McMenemy (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Stuart Gaffikin (Ireland), Richard Kerr (Ireland)
TMO: Alan Rogan (Ireland)
Meanwhile on Friday night!
Second-half tries from Richard Fussell and Morgan Allen helped the Ospreys return to winning ways in the Pro12 with a 33-12 victory over Welsh rivals Cardiff Blues.
Steve Tandy’s troops lost 23-13 against Edinburgh last Friday which ended their five-game domestic winning run but a first-half try from James King, added to Fussell and Allen efforts, saw them maintain their hoodoo over the Blues.
The Liberty Stadium outfit are now unbeaten in five games against their Cardiff counterparts who last emerged victorious in this fixture almost seven years ago.
Both sides were without key Welsh internationals as Warren Gatland’s side prepare for their final autumn international against Australia this weekend, but it didn’t seem to affect the hosts.
They were quick out of the blocks and a charge down from George Stowers allowed Kahn Fotuali’i to break down the left, but he was dragged into touch.
Ospreys’ pressure, though, resulted in a ninth-minute penalty easily dispatched by Matthew Morgan.
Moments later they increased their lead through King, the second row receiving the ball after good work from Joe Bearman and Fotuali’i to go over in the corner.
Morgan added the conversion but missed a drop goal on 15 minutes as Tandy’s men looked to make the most of their enterprising start.
Morgan’s boot was again wayward as the Wales U20 fly-half missed a penalty from the same distance as his first – but he made no mistake with his third, extending Ospreys’ lead to 13-0.
Up until this point the Blues had barely been in their opponents’ half, but a half-break by Andries Pretorius, on as a fifth-minute replacement for Robin Copeland, gave Ceri Sweeney the chance to add three points of his own.
Morgan and Sweeney exchanged a penalty each before half-time which gave the hosts a 13-6 lead at the break.
Within a minute of the restart Ospreys extended their lead through Fussell’s try.
The fullback latched on to a beautifully weighted kick from wing Ross Jones and crossed in the corner to all but seal the game.
Rhys Patchell reduced Cardiff’s arrears with a neatly taken penalty and Sam Lewis’ yellow card for offside offered them a potential route back into the game.
Patchell notched the long-range penalty which took the Blues within 11 points but Morgan again followed suit on the hour mark to keep them at arm’s length.
But it was the Ospreys who looked the more likely to add to the scoreline – Eli Walker made a brilliant break and was only halted by Josh Navidi who received a yellow card for deliberately slowing the play down.
Walker almost made his way into the corner as the game entered its closing stages, but a superb covering tackle from Lloyd Williams could only delay the inevitable as Allen went over in the final minute, but it wasn’t enough for the bonus point.
Tries: Fussell, Allen, King
Cons: Morgan 3
Pens: Morgan 4
For Cardiff Blues:
Pens: Sweeney 2, Patchell 2
Yellow cards: Sam Lewis (Ospreys, 50), Josh Navidi (Cardiff Blues, 76)
Ospreys: 15 Richard Fussell 14 Tom Isaacs, 13 Andrew Bishop, 12 Jonathan Spratt, 11 Eli Walker, 10 Matthew Morgan, 9 Rhys Webb, 8 Joe Bearman (captain), 7 Sam Lewis, 6 George Stowers, 5 James King, 4 Lloyd Peers, 3 Owen Williams, 2 Scott Baldwin, 1 Ryan Bevington.
Replacements: 16 Duncan Jones, 17 Matthew Dwyer, 18 Nicky Thomas, 19 Ian Gough, 20 Morgan Allen, 21 Tom Habberfield, 22 Matthew Morgan, 23 Ross Jones.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Rhys Patchell, 14 Tom Williams, 13 Gavin Evans, 12 Dafydd Hewitt, 11 Owen Williams, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Robin Copeland, 7 Josh Navidi (captain), 6 Rory Watts-Jones, 5 James Down, 4 Michael Paterson, 3 Taufa’ao Filise, 2 Marc Breeze, 1 Sam Hobbs
Replacements: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Benoit Bourrust, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Andries Pretorius, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Jason Tovey.
Referee: Leighton Hodges (WRU, 22nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Gwyn Morris, Wayne Davies (both WRU)
TMO: Paul Adams (WRU)
Finally on Sunday!
Paddy Jackson’s kicking proved the difference as Ulster maintained their perfect Pro12 record with a 19-12 victory in their crunch clash with the Scarlets on Sunday.
The 20-year-old contributed 14 points for Ulster with four penalties and a conversion in difficult conditions at Parc y Scarlets to go nine points clear at the top.
Jackson and Aled Thomas scored early penalties before Irish international Andrew Trimble intercepted Gareth Owen’s sloppy pass to register the only try of the night, with Jackson adding the conversion.
Either side of the break, Jackson kicked two more penalties but Thomas responded with two of his own to make it 16-9.
Jackson restored Ulster’s ten-point lead before half-time replacement Dan Tuohy was sin-binned, but Thomas missed his kick.
The Scarlets failed to capitalise on their man-advantage but Thomas managed to secure a last-gasp losing bonus point.
Ulster were boosted by the return of Johann Muller while Craig Gilroy started fresh from his star performance for Ireland against Argentina.
Thomas missed an ambitious early penalty attempt from 40 yards out before Jackson put one narrowly wide.
But presented with another opportunity after ten minutes, Jackson did not make the same mistake and kicked Ulster into the lead from straight in front of the posts.
Thomas made amends for his miss too on 18 minutes with a wonderfully executed kick from the touchline to level things up.
Just before the half-hour mark, Ulster stretched their lead when Trimble intercepted Owen’s wayward pass to accelerate away from the Scarlets defence and run in under the posts.
Jackson added the extras and kicked another three points after the Scarlets conceded a penalty from their own scrum.
With only two minutes of the second half gone, Ulster continued where they left off with Jackson striking another penalty to stretch Ulster’s lead to 16-3.
Thomas then shanked another penalty attempt horribly right of the posts but after Darren Cave was penalised for not rolling away he made no mistake, and added his third penalty on 52 minutes from a difficult angle as the Scarlets upped their intensity.
Four minutes later, Jackson gave Ulster some breathing space with another penalty before the Scarlets threatened following a good break from Kieran Murphy only for a forward pass to bring an end to the move.
As the Scarlets pressed, Tuohy put Ulster further on the back foot when he was sin-binned for not rolling away just past the hour but Thomas blew the chance to reduce the arrears.
Despite their numerical advantage the hosts failed to capitalise, though Thomas ensured the Scarlets did not go away empty-handed when he notched a penalty with the last kick of the match to secure the losing bonus point.
Pens: Thomas 4
Pens: Jackson 4
Yellow card: Dan Tuohy (Ulster, 64)
Scarlets: 15 Dan Newton, 14 Kristian Phillips, 13 Gareth Maule, 12 Gareth Owen, 11 Andy Fenby, 10 Aled Thomas, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Kieran Murphy, 7 Jonathan Edwards (captain), 6 George Earle, 5 Richard Kelly, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Jacobie Adriaanse, 2 Emyr Phillips, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Kirby Myhill, 17 Shaun Hopkins, 18 Deacon Manu, 19 Tomas Vallejos, 20 Craig Price, 21 Aled Davies, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Nick Reynolds.
Ulster: 15 Peter Nelson, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Darren Cave, 12 Luke Marshall, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Paddy Jackson, 9 Paul Marshall, 8 Roger Wilson , 7 Robbie Diack, 6 Iain Henderson, 5 Nigel McComb, 4 Johann Muller (captain), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rob Herring, 1 Callum Black.
Replacements: 16 Rory Best, 17 Tom Court, 18 Ricky Lutton, 19 Dan Tuohy, 20 Mike McComish, 21 Michael Heaney, 22 Niall O’Connor, 23 Tommy Bowe.
Referee: Peter Fitzgibbon (Ireland)
Assistant referees: James Jones (Wales), Chris Williams (Wales)
TMO: Nigel Whitehouse (Wales)