Sunday, November 13, 2011

Heineken Cup - top marks for Wales and Scotland, Ireland could do better, England scrape through, France and Italy fail

Best hair of Round 1 - Joe Marler (picture )

Wales 3/3
Scotland 2/2
Ireland 2 ½ /4
England 3/6
France1 ½ /6
Italy 0/2

I had an epic fail as a Leinster supporter this weekend. I Sky+ the match as I was working – then chose the wrong match to delete just as I was about to watch... But I knew the result anyway, and it didn’t sound like a classic. I thought they were going to win, but a draw away from home will do as well. I’ll make it up to Leinster  next weekend. Andato add insult to injury I caught a bit of each of the other Irish matches, but not my team!

First up was Connacht – what a match from the Galwegians! First in the premiership , at home,takes on on 9th in the Rabowhatever, it didn’t sound like it was going to be pretty. But as it turnedout , from a Quins point of view, it wasn’t pretty or comfortable, as they clung on for the win. And that was despite some pretty generous refereeing which saw Quins nonchalantly belly flopping in to loose mauls at wiil, and Robshaw spending most of the time on Connachts side of the maul. John Muldoon was the standout Connacht player for me, and I though Jordan Turner Hall was excellent for Quins.

Then I caught some of the Ulster match, who put in a fantastic win against Clemont. The Ulster scrum is first class now, packed with imports, but it’s Ferris and Best that stand out. Behind the scrum though, things are not so rosy, and it took a moment of magic from Adam D’Arcy, on a sub, to turn the tide for Ulster. They’ve got talent in midfield, but no incision, and they need to try and fix that to really go places. Clermont – that was just about France, so awesome win.

Munster/Northampton was a classic, where the home crowd, massive patience, and Ronan O’Gara saw the home team through. It was not a night for the faint hearted, an absolutely colossal forward battle, but plenty of attractive running rugby as well. Ben Fodden is awesome, fast skilfull and tough and Munster had their hands full containing him. The four players that really stood out for Munster were the loose trio of James Coughlan, Niall Ronan, Peter O'Mahony, Donnacha Ryan, and of course, Dougie Howlett. The first four are only going to get better, and the team is starting to look really balanced again, but they need Earls and Jones back in a hurry, to give them a threat behind the scrum.

Elsewhere- the rise and rise of the Rabo Protexyexy Super 12 – five out of five for Scotalnd and Wales, how about that! England scrape a pass, and the French are abysmal. Gut wrenching loss for Irish.
Racing Metro 92 20 - 26 Cardiff Blues 
Harlequins 25 - 17 Connacht
 Aironi Rugby 12 - 28 Leicester 
London Irish 19 - 20 Edinburgh 
Scarlets 31 - 23 Castres 
Montpellier 16 - 16 Leinster 
Ulster 16 - 11 Clermont Auvergne 
Munster 23 - 21 Northampton 
Ospreys 28 - 21 Biarritz
Glasgow 26-21 Bath
Toulouse 21 - 17 Gloucester 
Saracens 42 - 17 Benetton

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