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Watch: Duhan van der Merwe’s wonder try caps weekend of quality URC rugby

By URC SA
Duhan van der Merwe scored a stunning 70m try for Edinburgh at Murrayfield

South African-born Scottish winger Duhan van der Merwe’s wonder try capped a weekend of exceptional rugby, filled with shocks, as the Vodacom United Rugby Championship celebrated the new year in style.

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Van der Merwe’s 80 metre sprint, courtesy of fellow Scottish winger Darcy Graham’s turnover in his own 22, was the stuff of Edinburgh dreams, and earned him the man of the match award, giving his coach Sean Everitt something to smile about.

But while Edinburgh won the battle, Franco Smith’s Glasgow Warriors won the war as their victory in the opening leg meant that they would keep the 1872 Cup and bragging rights for another year.

Van der Merwe’s score was just one of a number of highlights in the New Year’s round of the Vodacom United Rugby Championship, where the DHL Stormers celebrated two years unbeaten against fellow SA franchises, Ulster caused the shock of the championship by doing the double over table-toppers Leinster and Benetton rose to second on the URC table to continue one of their most-amazing seasons thus far.

Van der Merwe was happy to take the plaudits in the 19-14 win, but lamented the fact that his side couldn’t overturn the scoreline to get the prized 1872 Cup back in the Scottish capital.

The win did take Edinburgh to fifth on the log, with Glasgow firmly in third spot in a very congested top eight.

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“It’s a pretty tough one to take,” Van der Merwe said.

“The boys will be hurting after that one, we got into their 22 quite a lot but we couldn’t get away with points. Towards the end we just had to take the three points.

“The league points mean a lot to us and are more important. We left a lot of opportunities out there.

“We probably left 15 or 20 points out there. We will go back and look at it and work hard on it.”

United Rugby Championship

P
W
L
D
PF
PA
PD
BP T
BP-7
BP
Total
1
Leinster
9
7
2
0
34
2
Benetton
9
7
1
1
32
3
Glasgow
9
6
3
0
31
4
Ulster
9
6
3
0
28
5
Edinburgh
9
6
3
0
26
6
Bulls
8
5
3
0
26
7
Stormers
9
5
4
0
26
8
Ospreys
9
5
4
0
25
9
Connacht
9
5
4
0
24
10
Munster
9
4
4
1
24
11
Cardiff Rugby
9
3
5
1
21
12
Lions
7
3
4
0
19
13
Scarlets
9
2
7
0
12
14
Zebre
9
1
7
1
12
15
Gwent Dragons
9
2
7
0
10
16
Sharks
8
1
7
0
8
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Ulster propped up their credentials as genuine contenders as they went to the RDS Stadium and walked away with a one-point win, as Leinster slumped to their first defeat there since being beaten by the Bulls back in the semifinal two years ago.

Ulster coach Dan McFarland was naturally glowing after his side scored three tries and provided a kicking masterclass off Billy Burns at 10.

“It (playing Leinster at the RDS) is the best challenge in the URC and to come away with a victory and the manner of it is very pleasing,” McFarland said.

“That was probably quite exciting, gutsy. To me that was a really gutsy performance from us interspersed with three brilliant tries.

“We took our points when we needed to take them. The rest of it was clench your teeth, get down in the trenches and do the work that you have to do. That’s still a victory isn’t it.”

Ulster moved up to fourth with the win and have the satisfaction of having done a rare double over the Dublin juggernaut who still sit at the top of the standings despite the loss.

Defending champions Munster added more named to an already long injury list as they were booted off the park by former Munsterman JJ Hanrahan at the Sportsground to compound Graham Rowntree’s worries.

First-half injuries for Oli Jager and Jack O’Donoghue added to Munster’s mid-season woes as Hanrahan, who played more than 130 games for Munster earlier in his career, slotted five penalties and a conversion to cap a solid 22-9 win for Connacht.

Benetton’s expected domination of the Italian derbies, with another solid win over Zebre, gave them the momentum to go into second spot but they may find it tough in the second half of the season.

The New Year’s day win by Dragons over Scarlets lifted them off the bottom of the log, with that tag now firmly with the Hollywoodbets Sharks, who lost at the Stormers in their derby. Ospreys beat Cardiff in the other derby of the weekend 27-21 to give themselves a new year boost.

The derby between the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions was shifted to January 26 as both sides took a welcome rest over the new year period.

Results

Saturday

Benetton 36 Zebre Parma 14

Edinburgh 19 Glasgow Warriors 14

DHL Stormers 16 Hollywoodbets Sharks 15

Monday

Connacht 22 Munster 9

Ospreys 27 Cardiff 21

Dragons 13 Scarlets 12

Leinster 21 Ulster 22

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