URC Review Round 5 – Irish And Scottish Sides Take Control


Leinster replaced the Vodacom Bulls at the top of the 2023/24 Rugby Championship Table. Irish Clubs dominate the top 8 places on the table with Ulster (3) and Connacht (4) following just one point behind log leaders, Leinster. Muster (6) are two points behind Leinster.

Scotland's Glasgow Warriors are placed 2nd and Edinburgh is placed 5th on the table. Glasgow has the same points as log leaders Leinster while Edinburgh are 2 points behind the leaders.

The shackles came off as Dragons RFC ended their long wait for a win at Rodney Parade with a 20-5 Welsh derby victory over the Ospreys. It was a first win at their Newport home since October 2022 and a first success in the Vodacom URC this season after four defeats.

There are now no unbeaten teams in the Vodacom URC, with Benetton having suffered their first defeat of the season, going down 26-12 to Glasgow Warriors at a rain-soaked Scotstoun.

Then in the rematch of last season’s Grand Final, title holders Munster came out on top against the DHL Stormers once again, with second-row Edwin Edogbo scoring the only try of the game amid a hard-fought 10-3 win at a wet and windy Thomond Park.

Last, but certainly not least, Connacht claimed a first-ever win in South Africa as they beat the Hollywoodbets Sharks 13-12 in Durban, with Player of the Match JJ Hanrahan landing three shots at goal to add to an early try from No. 8 Sean O’Brien.

The Sharks are now the only team without a win after the first five rounds of URC matches, while all four South African sides lost on the weekend.

Leinster 54-05 Scarlets

Leinster's international-laden team moved to the top of the United Rugby Championship after beating a young Scarlets side 54-05 at the RDS.

Sam Prendergast marked his first home start with an early try, and also converted efforts from Jimmy O'Brien and Max Deegan for a 19-5 half-time lead. 

Johnny Williams made up for an early yellow card with a 26th-minute score, as Scarlets improved significantly as the game wore on.

However, on a night that saw nine of Ireland's Rugby World Cup players return to action, further tries from Garry Ringrose, Jamie Osborne (two), replacement Jack Boyle and Deegan made it a runaway win.

Glasgow 26-12 Benetton

Glasgow Warriors ran in four tries to earn a 26-12 bonus-point victory over Benetton.

A competitive encounter was decided by the home side’s clinical finishing as Franco Smith’s men continued their strong start to the United Rugby Championship season.

Glasgow were missing Jamie Dobie, out for up to 14 weeks following ankle surgery, and the suspended Duncan Weir.

Their losses were offset by a first appearance since the World Cup for George Turner, while Tom Gordon also featured for the first time this season.

Munster 10-03 DHL Stormers

Academy lock Edwin Edogbo's second try in five starts steered Munster to a hard-earned 10-03 win over the DHL Stormers at a rain-soaked Thomond Park.

Ireland stars Peter O'Mahony, Tadhg Beirne and Conor Murray all returned in what was a repeat of last May's United Rugby Championship final.

However, the poor weather conditions made for a cagey, defence-dominated contest, with Edogbo's try just before half-time punishing a yellow card for Stormers captain Neethling Fouche.

Jack Crowley converted, adding to his earlier penalty, for a 10-0 lead and Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu's 45th-minute penalty proved to be the South Africans' only score.

Despite the greasy ball, Munster exerted enough control to return to winning ways. The Stormers, though, have lost three URC games in a row for the first time.

John Dobson's side still have to welcome back their Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks but there were starts for international hooker Joseph Dweba and fit-again centre Feinberg-Mngomezulu in Limerick.

Dragons RFC 20-05 Ospreys

The Dragons recorded their first United Rugby Championship home win for more than a year after seeing off 14-man Ospreys 20-05 at Rodney Parade.

Hooker Bradley Roberts and wing Rio Dyer scored tries as the Dragons triumphed following Ospreys wing Mat Protheroe being sent off for a dangerous challenge after just 27 minutes.

Full-back Cai Evans kicked two conversions and two penalties, with Dragons moving clear after Protheroe's early touchdown.

Dragons last tasted home league success in October 2022 when they defeated Zebre Parma and the Ospreys could have few complaints on a night when so many things went wrong for them.

Connacht 13-12 Hollywoodbets Sharks

Fly-half JJ Hanrahan's second-half penalty edged Connacht to a 13-12 Vodacom United Rugby Championship victory over the Hollywoodbets Sharks in Durban.

After away losses against Munster, Leinster, Ospreys and Zebre Parma, bottom-of-the-table Sharks slumped to a fifth successive league defeat.

Connacht, though, made it four wins from five and consolidated a place among the competition's early-season movers and shakers.

Connacht led by five points at half-time following an early Sean O'Brien try that Hanrahan converted while Hanrahan also landed a penalty following Sharks number eight Sikhumbuzo Notshe's touchdown.

Sharks improved after the break, going ahead through wing Werner Kok's touchdown that Curwin Bosch converted, but Hanrahan had the final say and Connacht could celebrate a statement away win.

Edinburgh 31-23 Vodacom Bulls

Three cards, including red, cost the Vodacom Bulls dearly as they were beaten by 31-23 by Edinburgh in the final match of their early-season Vodacom URC tour in the Scottish capital on Friday night.

The visitors led by 13-11 at the break, but when Marcell Coetzee was sent off for a dangerous tackle, with Cameron Hanekom yellow carded shortly thereafter for a cynical infringement, Edinburgh grabbed the advantage with two quick tries to take control of the match.

Edinburgh stretched their lead to 28-13, but the Vodacom Bulls refused to give up and fought back to within five points with a try by Elrigh Louw and a Jaco van der Walt penalty goal.

However, the hosts had the final say when Ben Healy landed his third penalty goal at the death to deny the team from Pretoria a losing bonus-point.

Zebre Parma 22-22 Cardiff

Zebre Parma claimed a converted try five minutes into stoppage time to salvage a 22-22 draw against United Rugby Championship opponents Cardiff in northern Italy.

Replacement lock Leonard Krumov touched down following relentless pressure in the game’s final play, with fly-half Geronimo Prisciantelli’s conversion levelling things up.

A week on from ending a 28-game losing run after beating South African side the Sharks, Zebre went close to another success that would have meant them passing last season’s entire league points total in only their fifth match of the season.

Cardiff looked to have done enough as they overturned a one-point deficit during the final 14 minutes through a Tinus de Beer penalty and wing Mason Grady claiming his team’s third try.

De Beer also converted scores by centre Ben Thomas and number eight Lopeti Timani, highlighting Zebre’s weakness in that department after Prisciantelli and Jacopo Trulla missed 11 points between them off the tee.

Centres Franco Smith and Luca Morisi scored first-half tries tries for the home side, with Prisciantelli adding a conversion and penalty, before Zebre’s late show denied Cardiff an away win.

Zebre predictably stared brightly on the back of beating Sharks, but Cardiff weathered early pressure and struck from their first concerted attack.

Ulster 24-17 Emirates Lions

Ulster came from behind to beat the Lions 24-17 at a windswept Kingspan Stadium scoring three tries to the visitors’ two in game which was in the balance throughout.

James Hume, Jacob Stockdale and Rob Herring scored tries for Ulster with Nathan Doak converting three and substitute John Cooney adding a late penalty.

Richard Kriel and Hanru Sirgel crossed for the Lions, Sanele Nohamba slotting two conversions and a penalty as they earned a losing bonus point.