URC Round 6 Review – Another Week And Another New League Leader


Another week and another new league leader, with Glasgow Warriors moving top of the table courtesy of a 33-20 bonus point victory over Ulster at Scotstoun.

A successful conversion by big Willem Alberts summed up the Vodacom United Rugby Championship weekend from a local perspective as the three South African sides playing at home ran amok against their visitors from Italy, Ireland and Wales.

The 39-year-old Alberts, who played 43 Tests for the Springboks at loose forward between 2010 and 2016, nowadays features at lock for the Emirates Lions, and he converted their last of nine tries in a 61-19 win over Zebre Parma in Johannesburg on Saturday afternoon.

A few hours later, the Vodacom Bulls smashed Connacht by 53-27 in Pretoria, with the experienced Willie le Roux scoring one of their seven tries in his first outing for the team from the capital.

Finally, the Hollywoodbets Sharks put the cherry on top of a great day for the SA sides with their returning Rugby World Cup-winning Springboks adding the necessary impetus as they scored 10 tries in a 69-14 victory over Dragons in Durban.

The only blip was the DHL Stormers' 31-24 away defeat to Cardiff on Friday night, a match John Dobson (coach) admitted afterwards they had thrown away.

Ospreys 31-09 Scarlets
Ospreys centre Keiran Williams scored two tries to help earn his side a 31-9 victory and condemn Scarlets to another derby defeat in Swansea.

Scarlets have not won at their Welsh rivals since October 2017 and they rarely looked likely to break that losing run as Ospreys’ pack was the dominant force in the clash.

The hosts outscored their opponents four tries to nil with Morgan Morris and Dan Edwards also touching down. Jack Walsh kicked three conversions and a penalty with Edwards adding a conversion.

Three penalties from Ioan Lloyd was the response from Scarlets, although it was the visitors who drew first blood at the Swansea.com Stadium.

Glasgow Warriors 33-20 Ulster
Glasgow made it five wins from six to go temporarily top of the United Rugby Championship table after recovering from a 14-0 deficit to inflict a second defeat of the season on Ulster.

Ulster raced into a commanding lead after just 11 minutes but the Warriors responded with five tries to secure a bonus-point victory at Scotstoun.

Leinster 21-16 Munster
A classy 65th-minute finish from Jordan Larmour gave Leinster a decisive third try in their 21-16 United Rugby Championship win over Munster at the Aviva Stadium.

The reigning champions got off to a dream start with Craig Casey's fourth try of the season, but Leinster still led 14-10 at half-time thanks to converted scores from Jamison Gibson-Park and Dan Sheehan.

Jack Crowley, Munster's semi-final hero from last May, bookended the second half with penalties only for Larmour to send the majority of the 49,246-strong crowd home happy.

Hollywoodbets Sharks 69-14 Dragons RFC
The Hollywoodbets Sharks got their first win in the United Rugby Championship this season at the sixth time of asking following a 69-14 home triumph over the Dragons.

Victory saw the South Africans climb off the bottom of the table after the Dragons failed to build on last week's win over the Ospreys - their first of the campaign.

The Sharks ran in 10 tries through doubles from Aphelele Fassi and Grant Williams and further scores from Makazole Mapimpi, Werner Kok, Eben Etzebeth, Phepsi Buthelezi, Lappies Labuschagne and Lukhanyo Am.

Curwin Bosch landed five penalties and a conversion with Boeta Chamberlain converting three tries.

Dane Blacker and Rio Dyer responded for the Dragons, with Cai Evans and Rhodri Williams adding the extras.

Vodacom Bulls 53-27 Connacht
South Africa World Cup winner Willie le Roux claimed a debut try as the Bulls cruised to a crushing 53-27 bonus-point victory over Connacht in the United Rugby Championship.

Full-back Le Roux, playing his first match since helping the Springboks retain the Webb Ellis Cup, was joined on the scoresheet by Akker van der Merwe, Elrigh Louw, Ruan Nortje, Nizaam Carr, David Kriel and Chris Smith.

Fly-half Jaco van der Walt added five conversions and two penalties for the dominant South African hosts.

Connacht hit back through tries from Diarmuid Kilgallen, Tadgh McElroy and Shamus Hurley-Langton, plus 10 points from Jack Carty, but were unable to prolong their strong start to the season in Pretoria.

Victory for the Bulls at Loftus Versfeld Stadium was a fourth from six URC fixtures this term, a record which matches that of the outclassed Irish province.

While the South African side handed a maiden appearance to veteran Le Roux following his four-year spell with Japanese club Toyota Verblitz, the away side remained without injured Ireland pair Bundee Aki and Mack Hansen.

Emirates Lions 61-19 Zebre Parma
Henco van Wyk and Edwill van der Merwe claimed two tries apiece as the Emirates Lions eased to a convincing 61-19 bonus-point success over Zebre Parma in the United Rugby Championship.

Richard Kriel, Francke Horn, Quan Horn, Morne van den Berg and Emmanuel Tshituka were also on the scoresheet as the Lions emphatically claimed a second win of the season, while fly-half Sanele Nohamba slotted eight conversions.

Zebre responded through a pair of Simone Gesi scores, plus one from Jacopo Trulla and four points from the boot of Giovanni Montemauri, but were well beaten in Johannesburg.

Zebre Parma 24-22 Edinburgh
Marco Zanon scored a pair of tries to lead Benetton to a come-from-behind 24-22 United Rugby Championship victory over Edinburgh at Hive Stadium.

Toulouse-bound Blair Kinghorn scored a double on his farewell home outing for boyhood club Edinburgh but it ended in disappointment as his late error gifted Benetton the win.

For a long period of the night Kinghorn looked on course to be the hero as his two tries – either side of a score from Matt Currie – had the Scots in the driving seat.

But, in a cruel twist, Kinghorn’s 68th-minute mistake allowed Benetton centre Marco Zanon to score his second try of the night and edged the Italians into a slender lead they held on to until the end.

DHL Stormers 24-31 Cardiff
A last-minute try from replacement prop Rhys Litterick earned Cardiff a thrilling 31-24 United Rugby Championship victory over DHL Stormers in a pulsating game at the Arms Park.

The home side were second best in terms of possession and territory but were the more clinical to achieve a morale-boosting bonus-point win.

Cardiff’s other tries came from Gabriel Hamer-Webb, Liam Belcher and Mason Grady with Tinus de Beer adding four conversions and a penalty.

Ruhan Nel scored two tries for Stormers, Andre-Hugo Venter the other with Sacha Feinberg-Mngomezulu kicking three conversions and a penalty.