Saturday’s URC: Leinster, Munster start with wins

Saturday’s URC: Leinster, Munster start with wins

Saturday’s United Rugby Championship results: Benetton 22-18 Stormers; Edinburgh 26-22 Scarlets; Leinster 31-3 Bulls; Munster 42-17 Sharks; three of the four South African franchises begin their seasons in the northern hemisphere with defeats.

Last Updated: 25/09/21 9:56pm

Simon Zebo scored twice on his Munster return as they began their URC season with a win over the Sharks Simon Zebo scored twice on his Munster return as they began their URC season with a win over the Sharks

Simon Zebo scored twice on his Munster return as they began their URC season with a win over the Sharks

Recap Saturday’s United Rugby Championship action as Leinster, Munster, Edinburgh and Benetton began their seasons with victories…

Munster 42-17 Sharks

Simon Zebo marked his Munster return with two tries in a 42-17 United Rugby Championship victory over Cell C Sharks at Thomond Park.

The Cork man, who moved back from Racing 92 in the summer, romped clear in the fifth minute, with further tries from Craig Casey and Gavin Coombes leaving it 20-3 at half-time.

Young No 8 Coombes completed his brace in the 50th minute – sealing the bonus point – before Henry ‘Boeta’ Chamberlain lifted the Sharks with an intercepted effort.

Although Yaw Penxe also sliced through for a classy score, Munster added a late gloss with replacement Chris Cloete and Zebo both crossing to add to a Ben Healy penalty.

Leinster 31-3 Bulls

Leinster began the inaugural United Rugby Championship in bonus-point style as they handed Vodacom Bulls a 31-3 beating at the Aviva Stadium.

The loosening of the Covid-19 restrictions allowed a 75 per cent capacity crowd and the PRO14 champions put their best foot forward against the recent Currie Cup winners.

Captain Jonathan Sexton sent over a penalty and converted tries from Josh van der Flier and Andrew Porter – all inside the opening 14 minutes – as Leinster’s fast start earned them a 17-3 half-time lead.

Johan Goosen had kicked the Bulls’ first URC points but the hosts’ defence held firm and further scores from replacements James Tracy and Ross Byrne sealed a convincing victory.

Edinburgh 26-22 Scarlets

Edinburgh got their United Rugby Championship campaign off to an excellent start as they gave new head coach Mike Blair a 26-22 bonus-point victory over Scarlets in his first competitive match in charge.

The visitors, for whom Dwayne Peel also oversaw his first league game, were in contention right to the death at the newly-named Dam Health Stadium and will feel they could and should have taken more than a losing bonus point home with them.

In the end, however, Edinburgh’s defiant defence won the day while earlier they had taken charge thanks to some excellent attacking from new signings Henry Immelman and Ben Vellacott as well as established star Darcy Graham.

The Scotland winger grabbed two of Edinburgh’s four tries, the others coming from Blair Kinghorn, who converted three, and Mark Bennett.

Scarlets’ trio of tries came from Steff Evans, Kieran Hardy and Johnny McNicholl while Dan Jones had a penalty and a conversion and substitute Sam Costelow added two points.

Benetton 22-18 Stormers

Benetton started life under Marco Bortolami with an impressive 22-18 home win over the DHL Stormers in a thrilling United Rugby Championship opener.

The lead changed hand on numerous occasions in Italy before teenager Tommaso Menoncello provided the crucial score with 10 minutes left to give Kieran Crowley’s successor a first victory in charge.