Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Irish Pro 12 action, and Wales and Australia.

We salute you (picture )
Pro 12 Preview

Ulster take on the Scarlets at home. Last week they played Glasgow, who are always an awkward side to play against, in admittedly poor weather, but they still took ‘dire’ to a whole new level. I hope they can turn themselves around, and with Scarlets wealth of international players, they should be facing a weakened squad, hopefully featuring an orange peeler or two. No excuses this weekend!

Connacht are going to find it tough enough against Treviso, but this is the type of game they really have to start winning if they want to go places. I think they’ll win.

Leinster have the Blues to contend with this weekend. And no, it’s not the Dublin GAA, it’s the Cardiff Blues this time.

Leinster: 15 Isa Nacewa, 14 David Kearney, 13 Eoin O'Malley, 12 Fergus McFadden, 11 Fionn Carr, 10 Ian Madigan, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Sean O'Brien, 7 Shane Jennings, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Steven Sykes, 4 Leo Cullen (capt), 3 Nathan White, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Replacements: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke van der Merwe, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Damian Browne, 20 Leo Auva'a, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Jonathan Sexton, 23 Rob Kearney.
Cardiff Blues: 15 Chris Czekaj, 14 Richard Mustoe, 13 Casey Laulala, 12 Gavin Evans, 11 Tom James, 10 Ceri Sweeney, 9 Richie Rees, 8 Xavier Rush, 7 Josh Navidi, 6 Maama Molitika, 5 Paul Tito (capt), 4 Cory Hill, 3 Taufaao Filise, 2 Ryan Tyrrell, 1 John Yapp.
Replacements: 16 Marc Breeze, 17 Nathan Trevett, 18 Sam Hobbs, 19 Macauley Cook, 20 Michael Paterson, 21 Lewis Jones, 22 Gareth Davies, 23 Dafydd Hewitt.

That’s a strong team for Leinster, with big names on the bench as well. The Blues have a lost a few players to the Aussie match – bet the centers are pleased not to have to tackle Jamie Roberts!No sign of Henson yet, but the combination of orange and baby blue holds little appeal anyway. At home, with a decent away win last weekend, I’m going with Leinster.

Munster have to play the Ospreys away from home, but if you’re going to play a Welsh side, this is the weekend. All their internationals have made a massive impact on their return from the World Cup, but they are going to leave big holes again.  So I kind of fancy Munster in this one.
Wales Australia

This the rematch, Wales were handed 4th spot at the World Cup following their defeat to the Aussies, and this time…it’s at the Millennium Stadium!

Wales have lost a few of their heroes from the World Cup, Phillips and Charteris being their main losses IMO. It’s the swansong for legend Shane Williams, and I hope he goes out on a high. Wales have stated they are targeting the Aussie midfield, and I’ve seen some less than impressive tackling from O’Connor too. The Aussie scrum is still suspect, but more than anything Wales need to bring speed and confidence in attack.

The Australians meanwhile, need to move the ball themselves. Without Beale and Cooper they don’t have the potency they could, but Ioane and O’Connor are the danger men on attack. Rookie scrum half Lloyd Williams can expect to get the treatment, and the Aussies will probably win or lose by how effectively they get to Williams. Wales to take it on with home advantage though.

Wales: 15 Leigh Halfpenny, 14 George North, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Jamie Roberts, 11 Shane Williams, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Lloyd Williams, 8 Toby Faletau, 7 Sam Warburton (c), 6 Dan Lydiate, 5 Ian Evans, 4 Bradley Davies, 3 Scott Andrews, 2 Huw Bennett, 1 Gethin Jenkins.
Replacements: 16 Matthew Rees, 17 Ryan Bevington, 18 Ryan Jones, 19 Justin Tipuric, 20 Tavis Knoyle, 21 Dan Biggar, 22 Alex Cuthbert.

Australia: 15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Lachie Turner, 13 Rob Horne, 12 Berrick Barnes, 11 Digby Ioane, 10 James O'Connor, 9 Will Genia, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock, 6 Scott Higginbotham, 5 Rob Simmons, 4 James Horwill, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1 James Slipper.
Replacements: 16 Stephen Moore, 17 Ben Alexander, 18 Nathan Sharpe, 19 Radike Samo, 20 Ben Lucas, 21 Ben Tapuai, 22 Anthony Fainga'a.

Exiles and Saracens looks like an excellent match, but a losing point would be a good result for Irish.

RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , December 2
Ulster vs Scarlets 19:05
Connacht vs Benetton Treviso 19:30
Edinburgh vs Aironi Rugby 19:30
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues 20:05
Saturday , December 3
Ospreys vs Munster 18:30
Sunday , December 4
Newport-Gwent D'gons vs Glasgow
Saturday , December 3
Wales vs Australia 14.30
Sunday , December 4
Saracens vs London Irish 14.00

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