The Toyota Cheetahs and Isuzu Southern Kings got their Guinness PRO14 seasons off to a disappointing start this weekend as their best efforts left them short on the scoreboard against Munster and Zebre Rugby Club respectively.
Both teams started off their clashes competitively, but they fell off the pace as the opposition made better use of their try-scoring opportunities.
The Toyota Cheetahs tried hard to make their presence felt against Munster in Limerick, but their limited possession and turnovers at crucial times cost them dearly with the team suffering a 38-0 defeat.
Munster attacked at will throughout the match, and although the Free Stater’s did well to shut them out early on, they were unable to continue this for the full 80 minutes, which saw the hosts and 2017 Semi-finalists run in six tries to none after holding a slender 12-0 halftime lead.
The Isuzu Southern Kings also delivered a determined display against Zebre Rugby Club in Parma, where they found themselves trailing 10-7 after 15 minutes as Mikey Botha scored a try to cancel out the one by Zebre’s Oliviero Fabiani.
The home team, however, scored another try shortly before the break to hand them a 17-7 lead and they added two more after the break, while the men from Port Elizabeth opted for three second-half penalty goals by Masixole Banda as they battled to breach the defence, which saw them go down 34-16.
In the other matches, defending champions, Leinster, pipped the Cardiff Blues 33-32 at Cardiff Arms Park and Ospreys held on for a 17-13 victory against Edinburgh in Swansea on Friday.
In Saturday’s matches Connacht Rugby suffered a heart-breaking 27-26 defeat against the Glasgow Warriors in Galway, Ulster best the Scarlets 15-13 in Belfast, and the Dragons went down 17-21 against Benetton Rugby in Newport.
Guinness PRO14 Round 1 results and scorers (click on the hyperlink for the full scoresheet):
Munster 38 (12) Toyota Cheetahs 0 (0)
Munster – Tries: Dave Kilcoyne, Dave O’Callaghan, Tommy O’Donnell, JJ Hanrahan, Rory Scannell, Darren Sweetnam. Conversions: JJ Hanrahan (4).
Zebre Rugby Club 34 (17) Isuzu Southern Kings 16 (7)
Zebre Rugby Club – Tries: Oliviero Fabiani, Mattia Bellini, Apisai Tauyavuca, Jimmy Tuivaiti. Conversions: Carlo Canna (4). Penalty Goals: Carlo Canna, Giovanbattista Venditti.
Isuzu Southern Kings – Tries: Mikey Botha. Conversion: Masixole Banda. Penalty Goals: Masixole Banda (3).