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Published: 17:18 | 7/5/16

Connacht secure home semi-final


Connacht will host Glasgow in the Guinness PRO12 semi-finals after a hard-fought 14-7 win over their Scottish rivals at the Sportsground.

All four Irish provinces recorded wins in the final round of games with Munster securing a spot in next season’s European Rugby Champions Cup and Leinster setting up a home semi-final against Ulster.

Conditions were poor at the Sportsground following heavy rain and it proved to be a tough afternoon for both sides as they battled to secure a home semi-final.

Glasgow dominated the early exchanges but they were unable to convert it into scores, with Finn Russell missing a kickable penalty in the sixth minute and it the home side who took the lead through Bundee Aki's try in the 17th minute with AJ MacGinty kicking the two extra points.

Russell had the opportunity to reduce the deficit to four when he stepped up to take his second penalty of the day but once again he missed and the visitors trailed 7-0 at the interval.

They finally got on the scoreboard after the restart with Gordon Reid's well-taken try and this time Russell found the target to tie the match after 48 minutes.

Glasgow's chances of victory took a big hit just two minutes later when they were reduced to 14 men after prop Sila Puafisi was red-carded for a head-butting Kieran Marmion.

Initially they defended well to deny Connacht a second try but they could not hold out forever and the score finally arrived when Tiernan O'Halloran jumped to collect Shane O'Leary's cross-kick before beating Stuart Hogg.

O'Leary added the extras and it proved to be enough for Pat Lam's side as Glasgow were unable to break through.

Results elsewhere mean Glasgow will return to the Sportsground in two weeks time to battle it out for a place in the final.

Elsewhere, Munster went into the final day in danger of missing out on a place in the Champions Cup but in the end they saw off the Scarlets 31-15 at Thomond Park.

It was the Welsh side that took the lead in the eighth minute through a Steven Shingler penalty, but their advantage was not to last long as Munster produced a quick turnover to claim the first of five tries.

Keith Earls fed the ball to Francis Saili and he sprinted over the line with Johnny Holland kicking the extra two points.

Just two minutes later the Scarlets thought they had scored their own try but it was ruled out and it was to prove costly as Rory Scannell crossed. Once again Holland added the conversion.

Scarlets kept in touch with their hosts thanks to Shingler's boot - three further penalties followed - and they were just two points down at the interval.

Munster piled on the pressure from the restart and were rewarded when Ronan O'Mahony touched down.

Shingler kicked another penalty to give the Scarlets some hope but that was ended when IRUPA Player's Player of the Year CJ Stander got Munster's fourth try after a superb maul.

That secured the bonus point and with it a spot in the Champions Cup but they were not done as Scannell grabbed a fifth try to cap a good afternoon for Anthony Foley's men.

Ulster set-up a semi-final date against Leinster with a thrilling 46-26 win over the Ospreys at the Liberty Stadium.

The Ospreys were bidding to earn a place in the Champions Cup and their early attack resulted in Dan Biggar going over in the 12th minute after James King broke from the back of a five-metre scrum. After feeding the ball to Biggar the Welsh international went under the posts and had little trouble adding the conversion.

Ulster remained calm and moments later Jared Payne found Paddy Jackson, who duly touched down. Like, Biggar he easily slotted over to level the game.

Captain Rory Best put his side in front just before the half-hour mark when he produced some neat footwork to set up the third try of the day, which Jackson converted.

With half-time approaching a clever dummy from Josh Matavesi allowed him to beat Best and reach over. Biggar added the extras to leave it 14-14.

There was to be more drama before the interval as Andrew Trimble collected his own kick and he sprinted away for Ulster's third try and with the final kick of the half Jackson kicked over the conversion to leave it 14-21 at the break.

Jackson was called upon when Ulster were rewarded a penalty and his good form continued to make it 24-14 before a super bit of work from Chris Henry secured Ulster's bonus point.

The Ospreys appeared to be in control of a five-metre scrum but Henry spotted an opportunity and stretched out to push the ball over the line.

The TMO gave the go ahead to award the try but as Jackson was lining to kick the conversion, the referee interrupted to allow the TMO the chance to double-check the decision. The try was eventually awarded and Jackson kicked the conversion before slotting over another penalty a few minutes later.

With their Champions Cup hopes faltering, Ospreys looked for a way back into the game and there was a slight glimmer of hope when Tom Grabham scored his first try but Biggar missed the conversion to leave the scorelin 34-19 in Ulster's favour.

The Irish province responded through a Stuart Olding try and another Jackson conversion before Grabham scored his second try of the game. This time Biggar did not miss but it was too little too late and Franco van der Merwe completed an impressive day for Ulster as he powered through to secure their sixth try of the day.

Leinster ran in eight tries as they defeated Treviso 50-19 at the RDS Arena.

The Blues took the lead into the opening ten minutes when Johnny Sexton crossed over for the game's first try but he was unable to add the extras.

The ball slipped out of Dave Kearney's hands as he looked to be closing in on his team's second but it did not take long for the home side to add another five points to their tally as Strauss touched down and he went over almost immediately for his second and Leinster's third.

After missing the first two conversions, Sexton finally got the extras to give Leinster a comfortable 17-0 lead, which they took into the break, but the cranked up the pressure after the restart.

Isa Nacewa fell just short of the line shortly after the break but he made up for it when he converted Jack McGrath's try to make it 24-0 and secure the bonus point and it was the captain who went over for the fifth try off the day before adding the conversion.

Treviso finally got a score on the board when Marco Lazzaroni went over, with Jayden Hayward converting. Leinster, however, were quick to respond and this time it was the turn of Noel Reid to get his name on the record books and once again Nacewa added the necessary extras to put the Blues 43-7 ahead.

The Italians refused to give up and their persistence paid dividends when first Matteo Muccignat crossed over before Enrico Bacchin got the visitors third.

Despite Treviso's late rally, Leinster reaffirmed their dominance with Garry Ringrose scoring his side's eighth try to complete a 50-19 win.


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