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Weekend Rugby Wrap: Aotearoa hidings and Premiership close shaves

Dave Attwood - Bristol Bears

Shaun Goosen looks back at what was an action-packed weekend of rugby with final berths in the Pro14 sewn up, big wins in Super Rugby Aotearoa and close shaves in the Gallagher Premiership.

Image Copyright – Steve Haag Sports.

Two women looking excitedly at cellphone

Leinster, Munster book Pro14 final berths 

Leinster and Munster both ensured they will be the teams competing in this season’s Pro14 final after the two sides won on the weekend. The former travelled to Belfast to take on Ulster on Saturday, a team who were second in Conference A and hoping to reel in Leo Cullen’s men. It was not to be, however, as the visitors recorded a pretty comprehensive 38-19 win to set up a fourth final appearance in a row.

Munster, meanwhile, dispatched Conference B chasers Connacht 20-17 on Friday to ensure they enter a first final since 2017. Johann van Graan’s charges will need something special if they are to upset the Dublin boys, though, with Leinster having won the last five head-to-heads in succession and nine of the last 10 in total.

Crusaders, Highlanders pick up comfortable wins

The Highlanders came back from 20-11 down at half-time to earn a 23-39 win over the Chiefs at the Waikato Stadium. Thanks in large part to Jona Nareki’s hattrick, the men from Dunedin ensured the hosts continue to go in search of their first win in the competition after losing all their games in 2020. The result was also the Landers’ first W of the 2021 season following their home loss to the Crusaders last week.

The Saders themselves eased past the Hurricanes 33-16 at the Orangetheory Stadium on Sunday. Codie Taylor scored two tries and Richie Mo’unga added 13-points as the defending champions march on. 

Close shaves in the Premiership

Three Premiership games were decided by a single point this weekend. Leicester saw off London Irish 33-32 at Welford Road on Friday, Gloucester stole a 20-19 win over Wasps at the Ricoh Arena while Bristol earned a hugely important 24-23 win in Worcester to see them strengthen their hold on first place. The Cherry and Whites’ win, coupled with the Warriors loss, sees them leapfrog Alan Solomon’s team into 11th-place.

In other results, Sale beat Newcastle, Exeter crushed Bath and Harlequins beat Northampton.

Written by Shaun Goosen.

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