Four Irish teams as well as Bulls and Lions are coming forward


All four Irish rugby teams, even without most of their Six Nations players, scored bonus point victories in the United Rugby Championship on Friday and Saturday, which could cloud things going forward for the Stormers and Lions in particular.

As things stand, Leinster (44 points) lead, followed by the Bulls and Glasgow Warriors (both with 40 points).

Then follow Edinburgh, Ulster and Munster (all 34 points), Connacht (33), Benetton (32), the Stormers and Ospreys (both 30), the Lions (29), Cardiff (22), Zebre (14), Scarlets ( 12), Dragons (11).

The struggling Sharks are still last with ten points.

Conservatively calculated, 50 points will be enough to qualify for the knockout rounds, but to clinch home field advantage, teams will have to finish with 55 or more points.

The Bulls, after their 40-22 victory over the Stormers at Loftus Versfeld, are pretty sure of finishing in the top four, but the Stormers and Lions have quite a few pitfalls in their way to reach the knockout round (especially at home) .

Leinster were again impressive in their victory over Cardiff, for whom Thinus de Beer excelled at flyhalf.

Leinster’s handling in miserable rainy conditions, as well as the way in which they quickly gained possession at the breakdown points and then swung the ball back and forth, was a feast for the eyes.

Cardiff, one of Wales’ selection teams, have now won just three of their 15 games this season, with 11 defeats and one draw. Two of those wins were against the equally struggling Dragons.

Ulster were in trouble in Belfast under stand-in coach Dan Soper, who took charge for one game after Dan McFarland was given the go-ahead.

Ulster scored seven tries with flustered scrum-half John Cooney converting all seven and laying the groundwork for new coach Richie Murphy.

Murphy, coach of Ireland’s o. 20 team, now take the reins.

Munster scored seven tries in their 45-19 win over Zebre in Cork on Friday night.

Munster gave four of their academy players a chance, while Springbok lock RG Snyman was the big standout with two tries.

It was Munster’s 20th consecutive victory over Zebre.

Connacht also strengthened their chances of making the play-offs when they beat the Scarlets 28-10 in Galway.

As in most other European matches, it rained heavily which made matters difficult.

Although Connacht won easily, they didn’t exactly flash the danger lights for the other teams.

* In Treviso, the Glasgow Warriors played percentage rugby in extremely grim conditions to beat Benetton 19-8.

The Warriors, who are coached by Franco Smith, used tactical kicking in the pouring rain to keep the ball in front of the forwards and in Benetton’s territory.

This weekend’s results:

Lions 40, Sharks 10;

Bulls 40, Stormers 22;

Benetton 8, Glasgow Warriors 19;

Connacht 28, Scarlets 10;

Cardiff 20, Leinster 33;

Ulster 46, Dragons 10;

Edinburgh 19, Ospreys 15;

Munster 45, Zebra 29.