Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Leinster fans - keep watching through your fingers, and also there's wily Pumas and wobbly Springboks and Walllabies

Quick wrap of the PRO 12 first –Connacht get things underway for Ireland first up against Zebre. Interesting choice of name there – are Zebras known to be fierce in Italy?Despite losing a few stars, Connacht are still a competitive team, and for them this is a must win match. Munster should sort out Treviso no problem, and Ulster will have their work cut out at Ospreys, but I can see them getting a win. Meanwhile, for Leinster fans, this is going to be another match to watch through your fingers (the horror, the horror! etc). Now Boss and Ryan could be injured too… At least Leo Cullen is back in the frame, and Quinn Roux may get his debut as well. They should beat the Dragons, but with this amount of inexperience in the Leinster team, anything could happen.

In the Rugby Championship, the Pumas get to travel to New Zealand to take on the All Blacks. They nearly/should have beaten the Springboks in their last match, and they have a real opportunity here. I know I know, the puny Pumas taking on the mighty All Blacks… but New Zealand so think this is already in the bag. The Pumas have a habit of making it awkward for other teams, they tackle like kamikazes and hang in there, and then they sneak up and beat you- like a Puma! I wouldn’t rate their chances as fantastic, but the AB’s haven’t looked too flash so far, and with Ted in the mix for Argentina, it could be lot closer than most people are thinking. The Pumas have Juan Manuel Leguizamon and fly-half Juan Martin Hernandez back in the mix, while the All Blacks have a full squad to pick from, apart from Sonny Bill ‘Show me the money’ Williams.

In Perth, the Wallabies get to have a go at the Springboks. Both teams are looking wobbly at the moment. I’m beginning to wonder (with most of the rest of the rugby world) if Dingo Deans is up to this job. With the Crusaders, there was a total team ethic, no egos, no stars, and in my opinion a forwards based game. Apart from Carter, the outstanding All Black backs were from the Blues, Hurricanes etc. With the Wallabies, he inherited a weak scrum and a host of talented backs with egos. The egos cleared off (Giteau, Tuqiri) but the weak scrum has proved a bugger to fix, and new egos/divas have crept in, Beale, Cooper. He doesn’t seem to know what to do with all those backs.

The Springboks meanwhile have been staggering around trying to find a game plan, and using a set of players that follows the Bulls model. I’m encouraged by the team for this weekend, with Pienaar at scrumhalf, and Vermuelen  at 8. I’d drop Kirchner, get De Jong in the center, and Lambie or Goosen in at 10. At least Meyer seems open to change, and all the Springboks need to wake up as all the positions could now be up for grabs. Who’s going to win? I’d say the Boks, who at least in the first half against the Pumas in Cape Town showed they wanted to play rugby – I haven’t seen that from the Wallabies yet.

RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , September 7
Zebre vs Connacht 18:05
Cardiff Blues vs Edinburgh 19:05
Glasgow vs Scarlets 19:35
Munster vs Benetton Treviso 20:00
Saturday , September 8
Leinster vs Newport-Gwent D'gons 18:15
Ospreys vs Ulster 18:30
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 8
New Zealand vs Argentina 19:35
Australia vs South Africa 18:35

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