Sunday, December 4, 2011

Leinster excell, and Peter Allen, look away now!

Fergus! (picture )

The first match I watched this weekend was Leinster at home to Cardiff. Excuse me while I reach for the book of superlatives. They made fairly heavy weather of the first half, then in the second the floodgates opened and the Leinstermen were queuing up to score. What was impressive was how the understudies rose to the occasion – McFadden is playing and kicking superbly (better than Johnny?), Madigan played really well, and Fionn Carr is hungry for work, on attack, on defense, filling in well at scrum half when needed, he’s knocking on Ireland’s door, never mind a Leinster starting place. Steven Sykes looked impressive, as did van der Merwe, hard to fault anyone really. A big shout out for Nathan White, prop try of the year? The Blues, with their internationals gone, could just about find a 1st fifteen, but had no subs to speak of. Bring on the next round of the HC for Leinster!

Then I caught the Wales Australia. The Welsh seem to have lost their mojo for the moment, I’m sure it will be back, but all the urgency of the World Cup was gone, they didn’t ever really seem to mean it when they attacked. Frankly, the first half was as dull as ditch water. The whole thing was crying out for a try, a punch up, a streaker, anything. In the second half ½ penny made a pretty calamitous decision to bring down O’Connor, because by the time he made it back from his yellow card Wales had leaked three tries and the match. Wales got two tries back and closed the gap to six points, but it was definitely Australia’s day. Shane Williams bowed out with a late try, bringing the curtain down on the match and his long successful career. Wales will be back, bring back Charteris, Phillips and Alwen Jones and they’ll fire again. Apart from Priestland, Warburton and Faletau, they had a quiet day at the office. Australia, meanwhile, miss Cooper and Beale, they looked solid but fairly ordinary.

Ah, Saturday afternoon, time to relax and watch Munster take on a very understrength Ospreys side. Or not. It’s not often in my experience that a ref changes the outcome of a match, generally he’s equally inept with each side. They can really spoil a match though. Peter Allen stuck pins under the fingernails of this match, he drowned it’s sweet little puppy, he told it Santa had died. It’s possible you might have enjoyed this match if you were an Ospreys supporter. But for everybody else, it was a shambles, with Allen trailing around, ineffectually trying to assert his authority on the match. I was impressed with how the Ospreys also-rans stepped up to the plate, and not very impressed with how Munster coped with the pressure they were put under. Peter Allen didn’t help, but they just weren’t expecting the competency Ospreys displayed.

Ulster got baqck to winning ways, and Connacht couldn't hold off treviso.

I rounded off the weekend watching Irish away to Saracens. This wasn’t a great match. I don’t want to make a habit of giving out about the ref, but the biggest feature of this match was Smalls voice, who's apparently an ‘elite’ referee. He didn’t so much instruct the players as nag them, frequently, in an unfortunate nasal tone. It was all penalties for Sarries, hardly any running rugby- turgid- is that the word? Absolutley turgid. Fair play to Irish as for getting the only try. Impressive for Irish were Garvey, and replacements Dermody, Allinson and Armitage. Farell for Saracens is not to everyone’s taste but he can certainly kick.

 Wales 18 - 24 Australia
Ulster 24 - 17 Scarlets 
Edinburgh 50 - 10 Aironi Rugby 
Leinster 52 - 9 Cardiff Blues 
Connacht 13 - 15 Benetton Treviso
Ospreys 19 - 13 Munster
Saracens 15 – London Irish 11

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