Marcell Coetzee Brilliant In His 50th Match For Unbeaten Ulster

 

Springbok loose forward Marcell Coetzee stood like a colossus as Ulster kept their unbeaten march in the PRO14 tournament, scoring four tries in his 50th appearance for the Irish province as they smashed Zebre 57-14 on Monday night.

Coetzee’s marquee game for the Belfast team easily underlined how important he is to Dan McFarland’s side, as he dominated not only the scoreboard but the statistics as well.

His hat-trick came in the first half, ensuring the result was never in doubt, and his overall impact was felt throughout the game. With 15 successful carries, two turnovers and a 100% tackle rate there was very little more that Coetzee could do to stamp his dominance on the game.

Coetzee began his barrage in the fifth minute, opening the scoring for the Ulstermen, a score that was quickly cancelled out as Antonio Rizzi hit back almost immediately for Zebre.

But then with the Ulster maul in fine form, it broke Zebre’s defence and Coetzee’s arm stretched over for the second. His third was a brutal barge over just before the break.

Early in the second half, Coetzee won an excellent turnover that led to Luke Marshall’s try before adding his fourth from the back of the maul.

The win kept up the Irish dominance of the competition and Ulster’s unbeaten run, matching champions Leinster with six wins in six games but only behind because they grabbed two bonus points less.

Leinster were unstoppable, compounding Richard Cockerill’s nightmare season as they scored their sixth consecutive bonus-point win with a 50-10 thumping of Edinburgh.

Leinster ran in eight tries to again underline their superiority in the contest, with South African Nic Groom getting the only consolation try for Edinburgh on a night they would rather forget.

The two results, combined with Munster’s win over Ospreys on Sunday to confirm their best start in 11 years under coach Johann van Graan continued the Irish dominance of the tournament.

Munster won 38-22 thanks to a hat-trick from Gavin Coombes, which cemented their best start to the competition since 2008.

Coombes, who filled regular No.8 CJ Stander’s boots, continued his love affair with Welsh sides after he scored twice against Cardiff Blues earlier in the season and put the Limerick team on top of the standings in Conference B with an eight-point lead over the Cardiff Blues.

Welsh sides had a better weekend as Scarlets edged past Connacht 20-14 on Saturday to prevent another Irish clean sweep and give them back-to-back wins. Connacht’s disappointment was confounded by the fact that their last two fixtures had been postponed because of COVID outbreaks.

Cardiff managed to end a three-game losing run with a 22-5 win over Benetton at Rodney Parade. Benetton had not played since round three, mainly due to postponed matches because of the COVID outbreak, and still need to record a win after four games in the competition.

Results
Connacht 14 Scarlets 20
Munster 38 Ospreys 22
Zebre 14 Ulster 57
Cardiff Blues 22 Benetton 5
Leinster 50 Edinburgh 10