Thursday, November 24, 2011

Leinster in Italy, and the Ba Ba's take on Australia

James O'Connor (Picture )

Leinster head off to Italy to take on Treviso this weekend – a few years ago the main concern would have agonising over the right trainers to pull the  signoras, after having thumped the Italians. Things are different these days though, and Leinster are not going to be arriving with a B team if they want to win. Fergus McFadden is apparently back in the frame, which would be great, and Damian Brown could return as well. I’m still expecting Leinster to beat Treviso, but bearing in mind that they drew with the Ospreys in the HC cup last week, they will need to play about 60% as well as they did in the first half, for 90% of the match to win. A win then.

Ulster should have enough firepower to take out the Warriors, even at Firhill, while I’d expect there to be unhappy hunting for Connacht against a still classy Ospreys side. Munster are going to have their hands full against Edinburgh, who’ve had a new lease of life with Irish coach Michael Bradley, who’ll obviously have an inside track on the men in red. But if Munster can beat Castre away, they’ll beat the Scots at home.
Scarlets and Dragons, with the current form of the Welsh, could be the match of the Pro12 weekend.

The Exiles take on Wasps at the Madjeski in a London derby, with Irish hoping to put behind their Heineken cup disappointments. I’m backing them to win.

Barbarians vs Australia

This is a decent looking Ba-Ba’s side, where I’m particularly interested to see Robbie Fruean show his stuff, alongside Mortlock who could really still have something to offer Australia. Hope Stringer has a good match as well. The Aussie side is out, with Pocock as captain, good move, and James O’Connor is going to be playing ten. The Ausiies had a fairly disappointing WC by their standards, so hopefully we get to see what they could have done on Saturday.

Barbarians: 15 Isaia Toeava, 14 Sam Tomkins, 13 Robbie Fruean, 12 Stirling Mortlock, 11 Bryan Habana, 10 Danny Cipriani, 9 Peter Stringer, 8 Adam Thomson, 7 Mauro Bergamasco, 6 Jerome Kaino, 5 Victor Matfield (captain), 4 Simon Shaw, 3 Sylvain Marconnet, 2 Keven Mealamu, 1 Eusebio Guinazu.
Replacements: 16 Adriaan Strauss, 17 Salvatore Perugini, 18 Jason White, 19 Marco Bortolami, 20 Nemia Kenatale, 21 Richard Kahui, 22 Seru Rabeni.

Wallabies team

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 (captain) 6. Scott Higginbotham , 5. Nathan Sharpe , 4. Rob Simmons , 3. Salesi Ma'afu , 2. Tatafu Polota Nau , 1. James Slipper ,
Replacements:16. Stephen Moore , 17. Ben Alexander , 18. James Horwill , 19. Dave Dennis , 20. Matt Hodgson , 21. Nick Phipps , 22. Ben Tapuai

Thu 24 Nov 19:30 Blues   v   Aironi Cardiff City Stadium  
Fri 25 Nov 19:05 Scarlets   v   Dragons Parc y Scarlets BBCw
Fri 25 Nov 19:35 Warriors   v   Ulster Firhill Stadium ALBA/ni/RTE
Sat 26 Nov 15:00 Treviso   v   Leinster Stadio di Monigo  
Sat 26 Nov 18:30 Connacht   v   Ospreys Sportsground S4C/TG4
Sat 26 Nov 20:30 Munster   v   Edinburgh Thomond Park Stadium TG4/ALBA

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