Sunday, April 8, 2012

Champagne from Leinster, brandy from Clermont, sunshine in Ulster and Edinburgh and Morgan Parra is the biggest little sh*t in French rugby

Well I managed to catch the Leinster match live, and what a pleasure. If that’s not champagne rugby, I don’t know what is. The BOD is back, leading from the front, and Leinster are back in the groove. The pack laid the foundation, and then Kearney, Nacewa, and O’Driscoll hammered it home, with running lines and handling skills as sweet as you like. Admittedly, Cardiff look completely out of sorts, weighed down by the burden of their problems. If it was ever in doubt, Leinster are serious, serious challengers to retaining their title.

Saracens Clermont was the other outstanding match of the weekend, in a match so physical I felt like I needed physio after watching it. The only thing worse for Saracens than dropping the ball, was catching the ball. Clermont used their unbridled physicality to smash their way forward in attack and defence, and produced a moment of magic in the second half to score the try that sealed the match. Morgan Parra, meanwhile, has made the title ‘Most annoying little shit in French rugby’ his own, indeed he has few challengers, he’s that far ahead of the rest of the field. The French outfit have it all, raw power, and skill in the backs to underpin it.

Thomond Park was not a happy place to be for Munster fans, as their team stumbled to defeat over a determined Ulster side. From an Irish perspective, watching Munster was like watching Ireland in the 6 Nations. Lots of earnest toil, but very few flashes of cutting edge. When DOC and Tomas O’Leary are your impact subs, it’s time for change. Ulster defended staunchly and took their try well, they have a few real class players, Irish and foreign stars, and did what they needed to do. With the right new coach, Munster will be back, but for now, it was Ulster’s day in the sun.

I didn’t see the Edinburgh Toiulouse match, but fair play for a massive result for the Scotsmen.
6N form was turned on it’s head with two Irish provinces, a Scots and a French Team in the H Cup semis, and four French teams in the Amlin Challenge Cup. A tough trip to France for Leinster, but don’t write them off yet, and surely Ulsters match to lose now.

Heineken Cup
Munster 16 - 22 Ulster 
Saracens 3 - 22 Clermont Auvergne
Edinburgh 19 - 14 Toulouse 
Leinster 34 - 3 Cardiff Blues

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