Munster earned a hard-fought 13-6 win in Glasgow to move to the summit of the Pro 12 table this weekend, although Ospreys remain hot on their heels thanks to a 40-17 trouncing of Newport Gwent Dragons.
After a fortnight of European action, teams resumed their domestic campaigns with four of the six matches being settled by a converted try or less.
Naturally, that kind of tensions produced a number of talismanic performances, with some players undoubtedly treating this week as their final auditions ahead of the November internationals.
At the bottom of the league, Connacht and Zebre continue to toil, but there are others creating cause for concern based on their Week 6 displays.
|3||Scotland Glasgow Warriors||6||5||0||+19||21|
|6||Wales Newport Gwent Dragons||6||3||0||-3||13|
|8||Wales Cardiff Blues||6||2||0||-16||10|
|9||Italy Benetton Treviso||6||2||0||-17||10|
Full List of Results
Ospreys 40-17 Newport Gwent Dragons
Ospreys put their disappointing Heineken Cup form behind them with a rousing response at the Liberty Stadium, where Justin Tipuric led the Welsh hosts to a 40-16 battering of not-so-distant rivals Dragons.
Dan Biggar kicked impressively for the home team and gave Warren Gatland more ammunition to pick him for Wales’ coming autumn internationals, slotting all seven of his attempts from the tee.
Ulster 39-21 Cardiff Blues
Mark Anscombe’s Ulster continue to soar on both the domestic and Heineken Cup stage, following their table-topping run in European competition with a demolition of Cardiff Blues at Ravenhill.
Claire Glancy posted this photo of the Ulster players showing their appreciation to the fans following the bonus-point win:
Ulster players thank the full house at Ravenhill after their bonus point win over Cardiff Blues pic.twitter.com/zQT0A1Ak1Z— Claire Glancy (@claireglancy) October 25, 2013
It was a fine day for the Irish side’s back line, as Andrew Trimble, Luke Marshall and Jared Payne all crossed over the whitewash, while Dan Tuohy flew a strong flag for the Ulster pack, scoring two of his own.
Zebre 16-16 Scarlets
Scarlets’ second draw in the space of two weeks means the Welsh outfit are now three games without a win, despite some fine individual displays earning international recognition.
Rugby World summed the story up over Twitter:
RaboDirect Pro12: Zebre 16-16 Scarlets. Last-min pen from Rhys Priestland saves Scarlets blushes in Parma. Gareth Davies with their only try— Rugby World (@Rugbyworldmag) October 25, 2013
Simon Easterby’s side need to be winning games like these if they want to compete for Europe in the newly formatted Champions’ Cup, and the international break promises to hurt their chances further when some stars are absent.
Glasgow Warriors 6-13 Munster
Munster extended their run to two games unbeaten this weekend with a morale-boosting victory in Scotland that the Warriors made them work for, to say the least.
In what was mostly a test of each other’s defensive capabilities, JJ Hanrahan scored all the points for the visitors, converting his own try and kicking both attempted penalties either side of halftime.
Duncan Weir also scored all six of Glasgow’s points from the tee.
Edinburgh 20-13 Treviso
An admirable second-half fight-back from Treviso ultimately came to nothing other than a losing bonus point in Edinburgh, but it’s a bonus point the Italians may have snapped your hand to take if it were offered to them prior to kickoff.
The two teams were drawing 13-13 after Luke McLean’s vital 61st-minute try for Treviso, but WP Nel would eventually pull his side away with a score just five minute from full time, Greig Laidlaw adding the final touches from the boot.
Leinster 16-13 Connacht
Connacht were another side that may have hoped for more this weekend but were ultimately forced to settle for just a bonus point at the RDS Arena, despite leading until the 77th minute.
Two yellow cards took their toll, however, and Leinster’s persistence allowed them to grab a late, late penalty try that gave them a vital win, keeping them within four points of leaders Munster.