Wednesday 21 February 2018

Leinster edge past Connacht

RUGBY: Leinster required a much-improved second-half performance at the RDS yesterday evening to see off a stubborn Connacht side and chisel out a deserved 30-20 victory.

Connacht gave early notice that this match would be tough by smashing into every collision with serious velocity. They definitely won the arm-wrestle in the first half, but they proved they're well able to play football too by scoring two fine tries as first Ray Ofisa charged over, and then winger Brian Tuohy wriggled over just before half-time.

Connacht led at the break by 20-8, but with the elements at their back Leinster quickly set about reeling them in.

Isa Nacewa (2) and Ian Madigan kicked a hat-trick penalties to cut the deficit to three points, and then Luke Fitzgerald went over from close range.

Connacht kept fighting but another Nacewa penalty and a Madigan drop-goal saw Leinster home comfortably in the end.

Scorers -- Leinster: D Toner, L Fitzgerald try each; I Nacewa 4 pens, 1 con; I Madigan 1 pen, 1 drop-goal. Connacht: R Ofisa, B Tuohy try each; N O'Connor 2 pens, 2 cons.

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Munster suffered their first home defeat of the season in Thomond Park after Ospreys claimed a 17-13 win thanks to Rhys Webb's second-half breakaway try.

Danny Barnes got the home side off to a superb start when he charged down a clearance from Hanno Dirksen and had plenty of time to touch down beside the posts, which Ian Keatley converted.

It was a penalty conceded at a scrum which saw Ospreys eat into Munster's good start with Dan Biggar converting after eight minutes. Keatley restored Munster's seven-point advantage with a 35-metre penalty but Biggar reduced the margin on the stroke of half-time to leave it 10-6 at the break.

Three minutes after the restart Munster were reduced to 14 men when tight-head prop Stephen Archer was sent to the sin bin after another infringement at the scrum.

Biggar nailed the resultant penalty to pull the Welsh side back to within a point. Then Barry Davies intercepted Mick O'Driscoll's pass and galloped away to allow Webb to cross in the corner. Keatley pulled the home side back to within a point with a penalty with17 minutes left, but Biggar sealed the win in added time with his fourth penalty.

Scorers -- Munster: I Keatly 2 pens, con; D Barnes try. Ospreys: D Biggar 4 pens; R Webb try.

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GOLF: Rory McIlroy suffered disappointment yesterday as a 73 saw the US Open champion fall out of contention at the Kolon Korea Open, leaving him on three-under-par for the tournament.

American Rickie Fowler equalled the course record with a magnificent third-round 63 to move four shots clear of YE Yang at the top of the leaderboard. Fowler began the day in a five-way tie for the lead which included McIlroy, but surged clear of the field with a fine effort that contained eight birdies and no dropped shots.

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A two-under-par 70 saw Paul McGinley continue his climb up the leaderboard at the Madrid Masters yesterday to finish on four-under par. The Dubliner carded four birdies but dropped shots at 16 and 18.

Belfast's Gareth Maybin shot a 73 to slip back to two-under for the tournament, while Damien McGrane shot a level-par 72. England's Lee Slattery heads the field on 14-under after a 69.

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BOXING: John Joe Nevin's conqueror at the World Boxing Championships, Luke Campbell, had to settle for silver in Baku yesterday.

Campbell lost out on bantamweight gold to Lazaro Alvarez of Cuba. After a cautious first round, the Hull fighter's excellent second round did not sufficiently impress the judges as Alvarez ran out a 14-10 victor.

Reigning European flyweight champion Andrew Selby was unfortunate to lose his bout with Russia's Misha Aloyan by a point in the final. The 22-year-old Welsh fighter's defeat means he will box off against domestic rival Khalid Yafai at a later date for the flyweight spot at London 2012.

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AUSSIE RULES: Pearce Hanley has re-signed from AFL side Brisbane Lions, after playing all 22 games for the club in the season just ended. The ex-Mayo footballer was one of the successes of a disappointing season for the Lions, having managed just 12 games in the previous three campaigns.

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TENNIS: Ireland's James McGee yesterday had to be content with a semi-final placing in the ITF Futures event in Cordoba, Spain. The 24-year-old Dubliner's run was brought to an end by the top seed, Spain's Ivan Navarro, on an emphatic 6-4 6-2 scoreline.

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Eventing: A brilliant cross-country performance moved 22-year-old Irish rider Camilla Speirs up to third of the 110 starters at the three-star Olympic qualifying event in Boekelo in the Netherlands yesterday.

The Kildare native recorded an outstanding clear round inside the time on her Irish-bred bay gelding Portersize Just a Jiff. Liz Power now lies 15th with September Bliss, while Ireland's highest placed rider after dressage, Capt Brian Curran Cournane, is now 21st with Ballintogher.

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HORSERACING: Jim Bolger improved his incredible recent record in the Dubai Dewhurst Stakes when Parish Hall sprang a 20/1 surprise at Newmarket. Having won the race with Teofilo, the sire of Parish Hall, New Approach and Intense Focus in successive years, the Coolcullen maestro struck again.

Kevin Manning had the colt prominent throughout on the rails. Most Improved and Bronterre were challenging inside the final furlong, while Aidan O'Brien's Power got going all too late and was beaten half a length in second.

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Frankie Dettori produced a magnificent piece of front-running riding from the worst of the draw to win the Betfred Cesarewitch aboard Never Can Tell at 25/1. The former champion jockey won the prestigious race for the first time and provided trainer Jamie Osborne with one of the biggest successes of his training career.

Ermyn Lodge (16/1) was second with Mark Johnston's Colour Vision (20/1) third. Top weight Mount Athos (14/1), trained by David Wachman, was fourth, with the Dermot Weld-trained Rainforest Magic (16/1) fifth.

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BASKETBALL: Neptune maintained their 100 per cent start to the season as they defeated Marian at Belfield last night.

Under new boss, Mark Scannell, the Leesiders had struggled to break down a resolute UCD defence with Donie Smith doing a good man-to-man job on fellow American Ronald Thompson.

But with four minutes to go Neptune forward Ger Noonan brought his influence to bear as Phil Taylor, Smith and Noonan all landed baskets as Neptune ran out 85-75 winners.

For Cup holders UCD last night's defeat follows an opening round seven point loss to DCU Saints last weekend.

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HOCKEY: Goals flowed freely in the men's Irish Senior Cup first round with Railway Union chalking up 11 against South Antrim, while Instonians hit nine against North Down and Pembroke seven in disposing of Clontarf.

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