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United Rugby Championship: Round 10: Leinster Keeps Perfect Season Alive

United Rugby Championship: Round 10: Leinster Keeps Perfect Season Alive

Derby weekend in the URC always brings surprises with it. There were shocks when teams in the competition faced teams from their own counties last weekend.

Dec 29, 2022 by Briar Napier
United Rugby Championship: Round 10: Leinster Keeps Perfect Season Alive

Derby weekend in the United Rugby Championship always is bound to bring a few surprises with it.

And, sure enough, with all teams in the competition facing another from their own country last weekend, plenty of shocks and thrills were in store.

Rivalries play just a bit differently than any normal fixture, giving upset-minded clubs a chance to wreak havoc and play spoiler toward towering opposition. 

URC In 60  - Round 10

Some clubs in Round 10 of the URC attempted to do just that, throwing their best attacks and charges forward in an attempt to steal points they probably shouldn't on paper.

However, the defining clubs of derby weekend arguably can class as those that come out unscathed, too - and for many of those that did, they often didn't come out of the fire without garnering a few battle scars and burns along the way.

Here's a look back at some of the main takeaways from Round 10 of the 2022 United Rugby Championship, which is being streamed on FloRugby.

Leading Leinster Survives Munster's Upset Bid

Leinster, leading up to Round 10, had looked near-untouchable against the rest of the field in the URC. 

Unbeaten and seemingly running away with the top spot in the league table at 47 points through 10 matches, the Dubliners have emerged as deserving favorites for their fifth URC crown in six seasons. 

However, that dominant run has not come without adversity, and that was proven without doubt in Leinster's 20-19 comeback derby win over Munster. 

Still, almost every title run comes with some sort of challenge for the winner to overcome, and it is quite possible Leinster passed its version of it for this season with flying colors. 

Thanks to a penalty try and a score from Gavin Coombes, Munster - currently on the outside looking in of the playoff positions in 11th place - led by as much as 14-6 in the second half on the juggernaut Leinster side, which entered the day with a seven-match winning streak against Irish opposition that was in danger of being snapped. 

But Leinster's attack is among the best in the world for a reason - it can turn matches on their head in a flash. 

Scott Penny crossed over in the 48th minute, before Dan Sheehan followed four minutes later, with fly-half Ross Byrne connecting on both ensuing conversion kicks to suddenly turn back the tide to 20-14 in Leinster's favor. 

Munster secured a response try from Patrick Campbell in the 63rd minute, but crucially, Joey Carbery's conversion kick that would've given Munster a late lead went wide of the goalposts. 

That was all Leinster needed to hold on and keep its unbeaten run going, emerging victorious despite the tense finale and giving it an eight-point lead over the Stormers (the South Africans have a game in hand) past the halfway mark of the URC season.

Stormers Hold Off Bulls To Keep Close To Top

Speaking of the Stormers, they picked up a crucial win of their own over the weekend against a South African rival (and the club they defeated in last year's URC final), allowing the Cape Town club to keep pace as Leinster's closest competition. There will be a late-season showdown between the two powerhouses in March looming ever closer. 

A high-octane first half finished with the two teams leveled at 13 each, even after the Bulls - who needed a win to help keep realistic first-place hopes alive - were penalized to 14 men twice. 

But the Stormers ripped the game open after the intermission, scoring three scintillating tries in five minutes to build a deficit the Pretoria side couldn't overcome. 

Joseph Dweba got the ball rolling in the 48th minute by powering through the Bulls back line from short range, then the defending URC champions pulled off a blistering counterattack a minute later that ended with 19-year-old Suleiman Hartzenberg racing down the right touchline, and eventually over, after pinpoint passing and movement. 

Leolin Zas put the stamp on the Stormers' second-half explosion in the 53rd minute by finishing off a run and long pass from Manie Libbok, who had three penalties and three conversion kicks to account for the Stormers other non-penalty points, ensuring that two tries later in the half by the Bulls' Marco van Staden and Bismarck du Plessis were for naught. 

Though the Stormers certainly looked like a squad bound to be in the mix for another URC title. Whether or not they'll put themselves in the best possible position to do so by securing the playoff's No. 1 seed remains to be seen. 

Nonetheless, the Stormers' game in hand on Leinster (stemming from the Round 1 postponement of their scheduled match against the Sharks) means that as long as the South Africans keep winning, they'll likely be somewhere around four points behind the eight-time champions when taking potential bonus points into account, with an opportunity to beat Leinster in Round 16 still to go. 

Playoff Race Remains Wickedly Tight

Past the halfway point in the 2022-2023 URC regular season, what is there to take away regarding the ongoing playoff race? 

Well, beyond a few near-certainties for some clubs at each end of the table, there really isn't a lot that's for sure right now when it comes to which sides will be duking it out for a URC title as the competition begins its shift to 2023. 

Just seven points separate fifth-place Cardiff from 12th-place Connacht, meaning the standings are very volatile and able to change on a round's notice, as a series of results can shift teams up and down the pecking order. 

Nonetheless, several clubs firmly in the mix got the results they needed to set themselves up in a better position for the late-season rush that's coming. 

Look no further for a prime example of that than Cardiff, which stunningly defeated a Welsh rival in the Dragons by getting a last-minute try from Corey Domachowski to continue both a 16-match winning streak over the Newport-based squad and snatch an important four points. 

In Scotland, the Glasgow Warriors' 16-10 triumph over Edinburgh was an important result, as the Glaswegians kept themselves on the right side of the razor-sharp battle between the clubs ranked sixth through 10th in the URC table, all of which - the Warriors, Sharks, Lions, Benetton and Edinburgh, in that order - sit on 24 points after Round 10. 

But the club in that aforementioned jumble in the best position likely is South Africa's Sharks, who have two games in hand on the URC clubs that have played 10 matches (due to postponements both in Round 1 against the Stormers and in Round 6 against Ulster) and had a 37-10 win this past weekend over the Lions, with speedy Springbok Makazole Mapimpi notching two tries to go along with five-pointers from teammates Boeta Chamberlain, Grant Williams and dual club and national team captain Siya Kolisi.