Leinster suffer rare thrashing as Springboks hopefuls steer Lions to crucial victory while Benetton breeze past Dragons

The Lions kept their hopes of making the United Rugby Championship quarter-finals alive after defeating league leaders Leinster 44-12 at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Leinster made 13 changes to their starting XV from the side that thrashed La Rochelle 40-13 in the Investec Champions Cup quarter-final last week in what was a matchday team that had a healthy mix of youth and experience.

However, it was not enough to see them to victory as the Lions secured the bonus-point win thanks to tries from Morne van den Berg, Marius Louw, Quan Horn, Francke Horne, and two from Emmanuel Tashituka. Sanele Nohamba kicked 10 points, and Jordan Hendrikse added two conversions.

The Irish province were kept scoreless in the first half but looked to stage a comeback with Ciaran Frawley crossing for two tries.

The hosts shot out of the blocks, racing into a 22-0 lead in the opening 14 minutes.

It took just 30 seconds for the Lions to notch up their first try as fly-half Nohamba – who was included in the Richard Kriel, who tore through the Leinster defense, was the recipient of a fantastic flat pass from the Springboks alignment camps, and he is expected to start the opening Test of the season against Wales.

In a quick start to the game, Kriel found JC Pretorius to provide support, and the flanker sent Springbok hopeful Morne van den Berg racing over the line.

In barely ten minutes, Nohamba’s excellent play continued as he added a penalty in the seventh minute and set off a flowing attack that saw Van den Berg sprint into the Leinster half and then brilliantly transfer to captain Marius Louw, extending the Lions’ lead to 15-0.

Nohamba then picked off a Liam Turner pass and stretched his legs before spreading the ball wide to full-back Horn to score the Joburgers’ third try.

The hosts dominated the opening quarter, and while Leinster attempted to fight back, the Lions’ defence remained resolute.

The visitors were denied a try when the ball was placed just short of the line and that disallowed effort meant Leinster would go into the sheds scoreless.

After a punt through over the Lions’ try line, Frawley’s victory in the race gave the Irish province a lead in the second half, but flanker Tshituka of the hosts quickly answered.

After Van den Berg skillfully dribbled the ball upfield, Kriel regathered it but lost his footing and was tackled by Cormac Foley, an early substitute for the injured winger Andrew Osborne. Tshituka, who walked in for the bonus point try, was able to pass off the deck to the Lions wing.

Frawley scored his second try thanks to a skillfully executed set play, but the Lions sealed a decisive victory through Tshituka’s second try and Horn’s effort, which capitalized on a Leinster mistake. Leinster has only lost three URC games.

Benetton keep play-off hopes alive

In the meantime, Benetton defeated the Dragons 36-19 in Treviso to secure their spot in the United Rugby Championship play-offs.

The Italian club created a lot of clear-cut chances, but their ninth league victory of the year could have been even more impressive.

However, Rhyno Smith, Gianmarco Lucchesi, Andy Uren, Onisi Ratave, Edoardo Iachizzi, and Michele Lamaro all scored tries, while Tomas Albornoz and Jacob Umaga each converted two and one conversion, respectively, proving that the job was done in the end.

The Dragons responded through second-half interception scores from wing Jared Rosser and scrum-half Dane Blacker, with Che Hope also touching down.

Cai Evans and Will Reed added conversions, yet it proved another frustrating away day for Dai Flanagan’s team.

Benetton had a strong early performance, and after just eight minutes, they broke through the Dragons’ defense with a skillfully performed play.

Two minutes earlier, Smith had nearly scored a try, but this time, with help from wing Leonardo Marin’s midfield rush, he made no mistakes and scored on his 50th Benetton appearance.

During a commanding first quarter, Albornoz scored, and Benetton’s free-flowing style spearheaded by Uren threatened more goals, but shoddy play kept the Dragons out of trouble.

Benetton wasted three excellent chances due to careless handling, but they were successful when they took a more direct approach, as Lucchesi completed a powerful lineout drive to put the score 12-0.

The Dragons were pedestrian and predictable in comparison, and they gifted Benetton a third try before half-time when centre Aneurin Owen’s pass was intercepted by Uren, with the former Bristol number nine sprinting 60 metres unopposed and Albornoz adding a simple conversion.

The visitors had to limit the damage, but they had a little window of opportunity when Rosser intercepted an Albornoz pass and scored from deep within his own half.

However, things soon got back to normal as Benetton scored an extra point after Ratave collected Albornoz’s precise kick into space and used a strong finish.

When Blacker stopped another careless Benetton pass, the Dragons went up by double figures. However, Iachizzi and Michele Lamaro crossed in the last moments before Hope’s try, and the Dragons suffered their 11th loss of the URC campaign.


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button