( picture http://bit.ly/ZSxLr0 )
Finally come up for air to do a bit of writing!
Munster/Saracens didn’t disappoint as an opener, 80 minutes of all out conflict. Saracens are an extremely capable side, and as well as bruising forwards, they have very competent backs behind them, and Munster did very well not to concede a try either side of half time. The turning point was a yellow card for Saracens, which turned the tide after a long spell of Saracens dominance. Munster exploited their advantage to the max, running in a try and putting themselves out of reach. Munster’s pack played out of their skin, and my man of the match was James Cronin. Two from two, great start!
I watched Ulster’s match with Toulon on fast forward, and maybe that was for the best, as it wasn’t their finest hour. But I think the score was a bit lop sided – Nick Williams gifted Toulon a try, he’s a bit of a loose cannon, and I can see why the excellent Roger Wilson is starting. You know it’s going to have to be an 80 minute performance to beat Toulon, they have great players, but some of them are getting on, and as the match wears on a few cracks are going to open up – Ulster slipped up for probably 20 minutes. Ulster also need to trust their backline more – they’ve got some serious talent there, and they should take a few more risks, keeping the ball in hand instead of kicking it back all the time. It’s going to be tough going in the group now, although the Scarlets did them a big favour.
Leinster were last in action for Ireland in the ERCC, away to Castres. The Frenchmen had pulled a few of their big guns for the match, so it looked like they had modest ambitions for the ERCC this season. After getting off to a flyer with a try, they then spent the rest of their half pinned back in their half, while we launched a series of not very penetrative attacks, gratefully accepting the gift penalties they shipped at regular intervals. In the second half, we had a go at shipping easy penalties, when in Rome etc, before we finally woke up in the last 15 minutes and reeled them in. Heaslip was my MOTM, with 20 carries, nearly double as much as the nearest player on either side, and made the second most metres, either side. We could seriously do with O’Brien, Healy and Kearney back though. I was sweating for that win!
Elsewhere there were great away wins for Toulouse, and especially for Glasgow.
Finally, Connacht came off second best at Exeter, but certainly didn’t disgrace themselves.
European Rugby Champions Cup
Sunday , October 26
Wasps 16 - 23 Harlequins
Benetton Treviso 10 - 26 Racing Metro 92
Clermont Auvergne 35 - 3 Sale Sharks
Castres 16 - 21 Leinster
Saturday , October 25
Bath 19 - 21 Toulouse
Montpellier 13 - 15 Glasgow
Northampton 34 - 6 Ospreys
Scarlets 15 - 3 Leicester
Ulster 13 - 23 Toulon
Friday , October 24
Munster 14 - 3 Saracens