Saffas Abroad: Coetzee scores four in landmark game

Marcell Coetzee marked his 50th appearance for Ulster with four tries against Zebre on Monday evening in the sixth round of the PRO14.

Springbok loose forward Coetzee was colossal as Ulster continued their unbeaten march in the PRO14, scoring four tries as they demolished Zebre 57-14 on Monday night. Coetzee’s marquee game for the Belfast team easily underlined how important he is to Dan McFarland’s side, as he dominated not only the scoreboard but statistics as well.

His hat-trick came in the first half, ensuring the result was never in doubt, and his overall impact was felt throughout the game. With 15 successful carries, two turnovers and a 100% tackle rate, there was very little more that Coetzee could do to stamp his dominance on the game.

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The win upheld the Irish dominance of the competition and Ulster’s unbeaten run, matching champions Leinster with six wins in six games but only behind because they grabbed two bonus points less.

Leinster were unstoppable, compounding Richard Cockerill’s nightmare season as they scored their sixth consecutive bonus-point win with a 50-10 thumping of Edinburgh. The defending champions ran in eight tries to again underline their superiority in the contest, with South African scrumhalf Nic Groom getting the only consolation try for Edinburgh on a night they would rather forget. Loosehead prop Pierre Schoeman and lock Andries Ferreira started for Edinburgh, while former Kings captain Michael Willemse was on the bench.

The two results, combined with Munster’s win over Ospreys on Sunday to confirm their best start in 11 years under coach Johann van Graan, continued the Irish dominance of the tournament.

Munster won 38-22 thanks to a hat-trick from Gavin Coombes, which cemented their best start to the competition since 2008. Coombes, who filled regular No 8 CJ Stander‘s boots, continued his love affair with Welsh sides, after he scored twice against Cardiff Blues earlier in the season and put the Limerick team on top of the standings in Conference B with an eight-point lead over the Cardiff Blues.

Welsh sides had a better weekend as Scarlets edged past Connacht 20-14 this past Saturday to prevent another Irish clean sweep and give them back-to-back wins. Connacht’s disappointment was compounded by the fact that their last two fixtures had been postponed because of Covid-19 outbreaks. Springbok No 8 Uzair Cassiem played 12 minutes off the bench for Scarlets after coming on in the 68th minute.

Cardiff managed to end a three-game losing run with a 22-5 win over Benetton at Rodney Parade. Benetton had not played since round three, mainly due to postponed matches because of coronavirus, and still need to record a win after four games in the competition. Zimbabwe-born former Vodacom Bulls lock Eli Snyman started for Benetton and partnered with Irne Herbst, who came off the bench, in the second half.

PRO14 table

Photo: Getty Images

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Dylan Jack