Round 1 of the Pro14 2020-21 campaign kicked off on Friday evening, barely a few weeks after Leinster lifted the trophy at the Aviva Stadium after being crowned 2019-20 champions.
The Irish put on a particularly impressive show, all four of them emerging victorious.
Zebre vs Cardiff:
In the first game of the new season, Cardiff Blues walked away from Stadio Sergio Lanfranchi with a ten-point win under the belt after they put Zebre to the sword 16-10. The Italins indulged in some crowd-pleasing rugby, keeping the ball in hand instead of using the boot, but the determination of the Welshmen could not be undone as they stopped Zebre crossing their try-line while running in one of their own.
Leinster vs Dragons:
Leinster continued on from where they left off last season, administering a hiding on a Dragons outfit who struggled to compete. The final whistle sounded with the score at 35-5 in the Irishmen’s favour after a 21-0 half-time lead. Leinster’s attack proved too much for the Dragons who managed only a single try to their opponents’ five.
Ulster vs Benetton:
Ulster will be smiling after bagging a five-pointer in their opening fixture against Benetton. The North-Irish outfit, through varied attack, ran in five tries to Benetton’s three. The situation was a close one during the initial stages of the third quarter before Ulster’s determination cemented their victory with a final score of 35-24.
Scarelts vs Munster:
Munster squeaked in with a three-point win against a plucky Scarlets outfit. The Welshmen climbed to a nine-point lead off the boot of Leigh Halfpenny before Munster opened their account with a try from Jack O’Donoghue. Scarlets were looking good, having built a score of 24 to Munster’s 10 before the Irishmen initiated a fine comeback, despite losing a player to a red card with just over ten minutes to play. The finish was a nail-biting one as Munster, through a quality maul, drew level with three minutes to play. It was an astonishing 55m penalty from Ben Healy which brought a heartbreaking finality to the game for Scarlets as Munster were crowned 30-27 victors.
Connacht vs Glasgow:
A close encounter transpired at The Sportsground as Connacht edged out their Glasgow rivals 28-24. Bundee Aki bagged a brace of tries in an evenly-matched contest which displayed some quality running lines from both outfits. While Connacht enjoyed the lead for the majority of the game, Glasgow made sure they were never buried and managed to match their opponents in terms of tries scored.
Edinburgh vs Ospreys:
The round concluded with an unexpected loss for Edinburgh at home to Ospreys. Hard, committed running from Ospreys sealed Edinburgh’s fate as they seemed caught completely off-guard by the Welshmen’s fitness and determination. Once Ospreys took the lead in the 16th minute, they never looked back, building a score of 25 to Edinburgh’s 10 while sending a message to the rest of th competition that they will not be trifled with this season.