Thursday, November 29, 2012

I'm going New Zealand, Wales, and Leinster to scrape by Zebre

Starting off with the internationals –one game is going to brought to me by the wonders of Sky+, one last chance for the heavyweights of the south to bully the North :)

England New Zealand is the match I’m going to watch. I’d love to see England give the AB’s a good game, and it could be a lot closer than people think. I reckon the NZ front row is going to be under pressure, and as England haven’t lived up to their potential this Autumn, the AB’s are going to be taking this pretty lightly.  England’s success or failure to me is going to depend on their loose trio – probably to be Morgan, Robshaw and Wood. Theway they carry the ball up, make a nuisance of themselves at the breakdown, and provide covering tackles for the English backline is going to determine the gap between the teams. With Flood out – I don’t really think Farrell or Burns are ready yet for the big time, hard to see an England win. But if England can get in New Zealand’s faces, disrupt their fast ball, smash them in the tackle, make a mess of the scrums, they could pull off a shocker. The awesome England women’s team play the Black Ferns after the men’s match, having already wrapped up the series 2-0.

Wales Australia is also a great match to look forward to. Wales have kind of sleep walked into this Autumn series, thinking their reputation and talent was going to see them through. A good warm up against Argentina and Samoa to test a few weaknesses, before the big boys arrived. O-3 doesn’t make pretty reading, and it won’t get any easier against the Aussies, probably the most astute of the SH teams at playing the right game for the right team. My reading of Wales is that they need to up their physicality big big time, and get their forwards to make some space until they even think about giving the ball to their backs. And their backs needs to stop trying to run over people, and look for offloads, running angles, chip kicks to make ground. Australia are there for the taking, France showed that, and with Welsh desperation at record levels, I’m going with a home victory.

In the Rabo Pro 12, Leinster take on Zebre in what should be an easy win. SOB continues his comeback, and add in all the returning internationals (including Michael Bent and Heinke VDM) and it could be some more festival rugby. Connacht have a touch encounter with Edinburgh – sure Dan Parks will  want to make his mark there, Munster have Glasgow, and should bounce back well, with their internationals, from a shock defeat to the Scarlets. Finally, Ulster travel to the Scarlets where I fancy they will keep their 100% record.
Saturday , December 1
Wales vs Australia 14:30
England vs New Zealand 14:30
RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , November 30
Ospreys vs Cardiff Blues 19:05
Saturday , December 1
Benetton Treviso vs Newport Gwent D'gons 14:00
Connacht vs Edinburgh 17:00
Leinster vs Zebre 18:00
Munster vs Glasgow 19:45
Sunday , December 2
Scarlets vs Ulster 16:00

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Ireland soar, Scotland stumble, and England and Wales need to man up

Ireland came storming back into form with a handsome victory over Argentina, as handsome my lady readers have told me, as Tommy Bowe.  Craig Gilroy’s dancing feet were the catalyst for this win, as he scored one out of nothing, and made a break which set up Sexton for the next.  But all the Irish players stood up, delivering a feel good performance, with width, skill and pace. Argentina were shell shocked, and turned in their worst performance this year so far. It means Ireland secure a top eight spot, and Argentina drop out, pipped by Samoa at the 15thdecimal place. Declan Kidney must be thinking ‘Hahahahaha, up yours!’ to all his critics. In theory, we can play better than this, with players like O’Driscoll, Kearney, Ferris and O’Brien missing. I wonder if they play like that every time in practice, and then serve up half warm drivel on match day, and Kidney’s thinking to himself, ‘You feckers!’

MOTM was Donncha Ryan, and he did play well, as did Gilroy, and Sexton, who just about didn’t put a foot wrong. This is great win for the team, and sets us up nicely for the 6N.

The same as last week, I watched the Bok match mostly on fast forward, which was no bad thing, as they ground out an ugly low scoring win over England. Willem Alberts scored the jammiest try ever, but he has a habit of being in the right place at the right time, and as Jean de Villiers said in the post match interviews ‘It was a a well worked move, we’ll take it!’ South Africa have one three on the trot on tour, hardly playing any rugby along the way. But I suppose at least with Lambie at fly half they showed they want to do more. England really should be doing better, hard to say what’s going to turn them from side contenders to world beaters, but I don’t know if Stuart Lancaster is the man for the job. I would get someone like Christian Wade and stick him in the team tomorrow, to offer something unusual in attack that they don’t possess now.

Australia scraped by Italy, France sorted out Samoa, but not by much, and Tonga accounted for Scotland
and Andy Robinson.  Fair play to him for taking the responsibility, it was a match they should have won.

Finally, it was the heavyweight clash between Wales and New Zealand, I suppose you could have billed it the kings of the North vs the kings of the south. Unfortunately, Wales don’t look like the kings of anything at the moment. They have zero confidence, and low expectations. I don’t know why, as they are not my team, but they are really pissing me off at the moment, they have so much talent and are using it so badly. I wanted to see Wales absolutely smashing New Zealand in the contact areas, but there was some pretty half hearted stuff going on there, and it all went pear shaped pretty quickly after they lost the collisions and started missing tackles.  Liam Williams stood up to be counted, normally I find him an annoying little shit, but he was the one player not overawed by the situation. The All Blacks had it all, pace power and skill, and also seem to be developing an unfortunate sidleline in cheap shots, with Adrew Hore surely to be cited and  banned.

International Match
Saturday , November 24
Ireland 46 - 24 Argentina 
Italy 19 - 22 Australia 
England 15 - 16 South Africa 
Wales 10 - 33 New Zealand 
France 22 - 14 Samoa 
Scotland 15 - 21 Tonga 

1 NEW ZEALAND - 92.91
2 SOUTH AFRICA - 86.94
3 AUSTRALIA - 86.31
4 FRANCE - 85.07
5 ENGLAND - 81.07
6 IRELAND - 80.22
7 WALES - 78.95
8 SAMOA - 78.71 (78.709236088306938 to 15 decimal places)
9 ARGENTINA - 78.71 (78.708853582562098 to 15 decimal places)
10 ITALY - 76.24
11 TONGA - 76.10
12 SCOTLAND - 75.83

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Ireland go Puma hunting, and if you're from the North, avert your eyes now

He's back! (picture

What a mess of scheduling they’ve made of the matches again! You wait three months for a quality international match to come along, then suddenly three come at once.

Ireland go hunting to try and bag a Puma this weekend. Puma concolor is a large cat of the family Felidae native to the Americas – although let’s face it, they seem to have acclimatised to Europe and the fat salaries in France in particular pretty well. Primary food sources include ungulates such as deer, elk, moose, and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep and Irishmen.  Yes, at critical time their diet definitely includes Irishman.

Over the years, particularly at the World Cup, the Argentineans have made an irritating habit of beating us when it really counted. And they are in a bit of form at the moment, having spent the last couple of months playing Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, not disgracing themselves, and then beating Wales. Ok, they got beaten by France, but if anyone is battle hardened it’s them.

Wales tried to steamroller them and it went pear shaped for them, as they the Pumas don’t give up and can’t really be bullied. We can’t bully them so how are we going to beat them? Declan Kidney obviously feels that wings are key to our success, as half our team seems to be wings now. We have wings on the wings, wings in the centre, and wings at full back. If we get dry weather, and a bit of space, we could score lots of trys. We could get dry weather, but no space from the Pumas, and I hope those wings can catch high balls, as they will get lots of practice. I’m excited to see Gilroy in the team, hope his tackling and catching is on top form, and I’d loved to have seen Marshall or Cave come in at centre.  And the result is going to be… a win for Ireland, but you’ll have to watch through your fingers. Lot’s of passion from us anyway.Actually, I was wondering, do you think Wales could play us instead of Argentina? The Cardiff crowd would be treated to a classic NZ Pumas match, and we’d have a pretty good chance of bagging some points.

South Africa haven’t been in great form this tour, but England are not exactly brimming with form themselves after the Aussies knocked the wind out of their sails. South Africa know only brutal, and England brings out the extra brute in them, so I’m going with the Boks.

Scotland should be Tonga, sorry about that Wales, and France Samoa should be a classic, and another good win for France.

And in the Pro 12, Sean O’Brien is getting a start for Leinster– get in!

International Match
Saturday , November 24
Ireland vs Argentina 14:00
England vs South Africa 14:30
Scotland vs Tonga 15:00
France vs Samoa 17:00
Wales vs New Zealand 17:15
Italy vs Australia 18:00

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Wales and England fail, South Africa look like a bear trying to breakdance, and all too easy for Ireland

Craig Gilroy (picture

I started the weekend watching the Wales Samoa match, expecting to see Wales back in their groove. Well, if their groove is the inexorable slide to the bottom, they are firmly in position at the moment.  Samoa  are like an uncontrollable force of nature. They seriously need to sort their discipline out, and cut out the shoulder charges, swinging arms and high tackles. What they don’t need to sort out is their commitment, perfectly illustrated in the 73rd minute, just outside the Welsh 22, when the ball came unexpectedly out of a lose mall, and their number 10 Pisi came sprinting in and swan dived to claim the ball, like his life depended on it. Like his life depended on it. How many Welsh players could you say played like that. Samoa’s scrum was epic, how many points did they score from scrum penalties?Wales need to roll their sleeves up and learn to stuck in again – they are not exactly small guys,  but they are playing pretty timidly at the moment.

Next up was the England Wallabies match, where I though Australia were going to be eating humble pie. I think England are the one team the Aussies base their self esteem on- losing to New Zealand is not great, but losing to England is akin to a loss of manhood. So the Aussies played well then, and England basically didn’t. All that sniggering  before the match about the Australian front row was a bit off the mark. England areanother team that need a good kick up the arse. They could so badly do with Ben Fodden back, the one English back who can split defenses at will. Goode and Browne both looked workmanlike, Barrett and Tuilagi tackle well, but where are the offlads, the side steps, the running lines? The Aussie live to fight another day, while England have South Africa and New Zealand coming up. Gulp.

I recorded the Scotland South Africa and watched it with my finger hovering on and off the fast forward button. Let me tell you, that was by far the best way to watch it, for the brief flickers of excitement in between the grunt and toil. Last week, South Africa played badly in the first half, and well in the second. This week they mixed it up a bit, playing well in the first half, and badly in the second. Those crazy Springboks! They only have one game plan, which is 15 rather large gentlemen jumping on your head. They are trying to get a running game going, which at the moment looks like a bear trying to breakdance. Scotland scored one good try, defended well, and just need a bit of luck, and probably a better fly half to kick on and pick up another big scalp.

Ireland’s match was a bit of a letdown – not that we didn’t play well, and not that there weren’t some fine individual performances. Fiji, and their non appearance, was the problem. They looked they had better things to do, better places to be than at Thomond Park on a Saturday afternoon.  The Ulster backline – and Fergus McFadden – unleashed their full bag of tricks, with Gilroy, Marshall, Jackson and McFadden shining. After they ran in a few tries, I was hoping the game was going to settle down and we were going to see what their defence was like, but that never really happened. We could be looking at the bones of the next Ireland backline – but they are going to have to be tested by sterner attacks, and crack tighter defences before you could know that for certain.

Elsewhere, the all Blacks steamrollered the Italians, and probably the match of the weekend, France Argentina was on Setanta so I didn’t get to see it. Boo! Hopefully that Argentina’s loss softened them up nicely for next weekend.

International Match
Saturday , November 17
Italy 10 - 42 New Zealand 
England 14 - 20 Australia 
Scotland 10 - 21 South Africa 
France 39 - 22 Argentina 
Ireland A 53 - 0 Fiji 
Friday , November 16
Wales 19 - 26 Samoa 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

International round up, and Adam Thompson, look away now!

That'll make your eyes water! (picture

There’s a feast of rugby on this weekend, and I’ll start off with Ireland, who will face Fiji at Thomond park in a non cap international. I’m hoping this Irish team is going to have a distinctly Ulster feel to it as they are the form Irish team – I want to see Cave, Tuohy and Henderson on the pitch. Playing a centre in centre is a bit radical, but hey why not give it a shot?  I’ve no idea at all why Tuohy isn’t starting for Ireland, why he didn’t start against the Boks? As Fiji seem to be going through a lean patch, it should be a good confidence building win for Ireland and an ideal warm up for the Pumas.

Wales are taking on Samoa’ looking for a their first win a while now. The size of the Welsh team should see them through, although their confidence isn’t going to very high, but I’d like to think they are going to bounce back and return to winning ways.

In a triumph of TV scheduling, Italy –NZ, Scotland-SA and England –Aus are all on at the same time on Saturday. Italy are going to be trying to take the Kiwis on up front, and should make for some entertaining scrums with Castro giving his all. Should be a big win for the All Blacks. While we’re on the All Blacks, I don’t know what the outcome of Adam Thompson’s case for using his foot to play with Alasdair Strokosch’s head. To me that was Thompson saying ‘Hello, I’m Adam Thompson, I play for a big important team called the All Blacks, and if I want to stand on your head I will’. He was totally arrogant, and basically behaving like a knob. After sober consideration, in true punishment should fit the crime syle, I reckon he should have his goolies ripped off by ninjas, in a ceremony likely to rival the haka for drama. In the same form, JP Pietersen would be made to go bungy jumping using the necktie rope attachment method, for his reckless challenge on Chris Henry. Would they do it again? I don’t think so.

Scotland vs the Springboks should be one for fans of big hits, with Scotland sniffing at a rare Southern Hemisphere victory. They got hammered by the All Blacks, but you can’t argue with the three tries they scored. The Boks have named a better team than last week, with Steenkamp coming in for pensioner van der Linde, and exciting centre De Jong coming in for his first start for a while. I think the Boks will play better than last weekend (they could hardly play worse) and win this.

England entertain the Wobblies, and would have to come into the match as favourites. The Aussies performance stank last weekend, and they’ve hardly done themselves any favours with their pre match hype -  Polota Nau fancies they can take on the English front row – no you can’t, and winger Digby Ioane wants to have a go at England’s  ‘pretty boys’. I’m no expert on male beauty, and while the Tuilagi brothers possess a great number of other virtues, Manu is not what I’d called pretted. Potential to be added to ‘Famous Last words’?  The Aussies will be up for this one, which former colony isn’t, but this isn’t likely to go well for them.

France Argentina could be the match of the weekend. Both teams were in hot form last weekend. And as the Argentineans mostly play in France, they always seem put extra passion into their game when they play France. The whole team is going to be blubbing like Andy Murray at Wimbledon at the anthems, and it could be France doing the blubbing at the end of the match. I’m going with Argentina, don’t know why, but could you rely on the French to be consistent two weeks in a row?

International Match
Friday , November 16
Wales vs Samoa 19:30
Saturday , November 17
Italy vs New Zealand 14:00
Scotland vs South Africa 14:30
England vs Australia 14:30
Ireland A vs Fiji 17:30
France vs Argentina 20:00

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Ireland let one slip, Wales were dismal, the French were sublime and Scotland got thumped but had fun.

This was a weekend for the South, with France the only Northern Hemisphere team to buck the trend. How did the North do though, in defeat? The all important world rankings are at the bottom

Starting with Ireland, who came the next closest to getting one over the South. Give me a bit of time while my soap box is set up. It was disappointing to lose, especially going in at half time 9 points in the lead. Ireland did the basics really well in the first half, their defense was solid, they didn’t look scoring a try, but they had a few half breaks, and were easily holding their own against the Boks. The turning point was the sinbinning of JP Pietersen for an idioitic tackle on Chris Henry. Ireland couldn’t turn that 1 man advantage into points. We needed to put our foot on the gas and just didn’t have the tactics to do it. With 15 men on the pitch in the second half, South Africa had Jamie Heaslip sin binned, scored a try and got a penalty and the lead, which they kept and extended.

Good games for Ireland were Mike McCarthy (I hang my head in shame there)the front row, Chris Henry, Sexton and Bowe. Good for SA were Strauss, Vermuelen and Lowe.

All in all, losing by four points to the team ranked third in the world is no shame, and especially as we have several key injuries. The Boks have injuries too, but they have way more depth than us and played together for the 4N which only ended in October, whereas we last played together in June.

As my soap box has arrived, I can now give out properly. Why I’m disappointed is that while our defense is brilliant, our attack seems to have gone AWOL. I can remember some awesome Irish performances, against France in 2009 and the second test against New Zealand this year.  In those games we ferocious in defense, our game had tempo, and our attack was structured and just about unstoppable. What style are we playing now? I think we’re analyzing the opposition and playing a different game plan every week. I want to see that tempo back, which means scrum halves like Reddan and Marshall, and ball players in mid field. Otherwise we are just marking time.

For the record, the Boks were pretty ordinary, and the bad old habits of foul play are creeping back in. The one thing I will applaud them for is picking attacking fly halves and trying to play some rugby.

Elsewhere, Wales get an F for Fail. Argentina have been playing bigger faster stronger teams for weeks on end, so Wales were never going to just run them over. Wales looked lost, not much leadership, and no attacking flair to pick the Argentinean lock instead of trying to bust the door down. What a result for Argentina though!

I was slightly off in predicting a Fijian win as they had their arses kicked. France were the big turn up for the books, playing aggressive, pacy attractive rugby the Aussies had no answer for. The Deans clock is ticking.
Finally, I watched AB thump Scotland. Good day for Scotland though, three tries against the World Champs is something to be proud of. If they can just tighten up that defense a little… Carter is the best 10 in the world, end of, his running alone makes him that. McCaw is awesome too, but it’s laughable how much time he and the rest of the pack spent lying on the Scottish side of the breakdown. I would have had them all hung myself!

Sunday , November 11
Scotland 22 - 51 New Zealand 
Saturday , November 10
Italy 28 - 23 Tonga 
Wales 12 - 26 Argentina 
England 54 - 12 Fiji 
France 33 - 6 Australia 
Ireland 12 - 16 South Africa 

1(1) NEW ZEALAND 92.91
2(2) AUSTRALIA 86.37
3(3) SOUTH AFRICA 84.69
4(4) ENGLAND 83.09
5(5) FRANCE 83.03
6(6) WALES 82.26
7(7) IRELAND 79.85
8(8) ARGENTINA 78.63
9(9) SCOTLAND 77.97
10(10) SAMOA 76.23
11(11) ITALY 76.03
12(12) TONGA 74.79

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Bring on the Boks! But with our injuries, if you're going to the match, bring your boots!

Richardt Strauss (picture

Ireland kick their Autumn internationals off in style with a top clash against the Springboks. This is my favorite match up in all rugby, as I support both teams, but Ireland first.

I’ll start with the Boks, have a look at where they are and what their key weaknesses are.  They had a massive clean out of players due to retirements, loss of players overseas, prison, that sort of thing  They also have a new coach. They still have an absolutely top notch pack, Etzebeth, Kruger and Van der Merwe are all world class locks, their front row is ultra solid, and loose forwards like Marcell Coetzee, Francois Louw and Willem Alberts are forces of nature.  Behind them, they have traditionally had very conservative backline play, based on kicking for territory, kick and chase, and kicking for kicking sakes. However, the golden boy of South African kicking has fallen off his perch, Morne Steyn is in the squad but not first choice anymore.  Youngsters Pat Lambie and Elton Jantjes  are likely to feature, and I hope to see a lot of Lambie with his cool head and attacking flair. If he can set off a backline line with players like Pietersen, Hougaard, and De Villiers – we’ll be in trouble. What we need to do is stand up to their physicality, and run at them – any team struggles to cope with confident ball handlers travelling at speed. For the Boks is that the team played together as recently as October. For Ireland is that the Sprinboks have been playing nearly continuously since February, they often stink on their November tour – and also that they don’t see Ireland as a big threat. This is the team.

15 Zane Kirchner, 14 JP Pietersen, 13 Jaco Taute, 12 Jean de Villiers (captain), 11 Francois Hougaard, 10 Pat Lambie, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Duane Vermeulen, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Francois Louw, 5 Juandré Kruger, 4 Eben Etzebeth, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Adriaan Strauss, 1 Tendai Mtawarira.
Replacements: 16 Schalk Brits, 17 CJ van der Linde, 18 Pat Cilliers, 19 Flip van der Merwe, 20 Marcell Coetzee, 21 Morné Steyn, 22 Juan de Jongh, 23 Lwazi Mvovo.

Where are Ireland in comparison? We have a golden generation of stars now in various states of decrepitude. BOD is world class – when he’s fit an playing, which is getting less less frequent. The same goes for POC, O’Gara seems past his best, D’Arcy plays well in fits and starts, and O’Callagahan peaked about 3 years ago. Add to that some our new stars, Ferris, Kearney and SOB all on the phsio table somewhere – it’s looking tough. And add to the that a coach, who’s lost a decent chunk of his public, and you’d wonder how much of his dressing room. He seems intent on levering in players like Murray and Earls into positions they can’t handle.  Munster is not the powerhouse it used to be, and the bulk of the players should be from Leinster and Ulster.

My starting 15 would be
Earls Bowe Cave D’Arcy Trimble Sexton Reddan Heaslip O’Mahony Henry Ryan Tuohy Healy Strauss Ross

I think we’ve got to look to the future now, give the older players game time when they’re fit – but only off the bench. We’re not going to survive any other way. Looking at my team, I love Earls on the wing and at full back, but not in the centre. I’d start with Strauss because this is South Africa – he’ll be so up for this! And he speaks Afrikaans so he can work their line out calls.

With our key injuries, we can still field a strong team, but probably not with enough game time to have the combinations gelling. I don’t want to see Murray and O’Callaghan starting! I think the Boks are going to beat us.

Ireland: 15 Simon Zebo, 14 Tommy Bowe, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Andrew Trimble, 10 Jonathan Sexton, 9 Conor Murray, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Peter O'Mahony, 5 Mike McCarthy, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Mike Ross, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
16 Sean Cronin, 17 Dave Kilcoyne, 18 Michael Bent, 19 Donncha O'Callaghan, 20 Iain Henderson, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ronan O'Gara, 23 Fergus McFadden.

Sooo, this is the 15 Declan came up – you and me are going to have words… Earls can’t pass and is a wobbly tackler, which is why I don’t like him at centre. Murray gives the team no tempo, and often passes to isolated players. And Mike McCarthy – is a journeyman lock, I’d rather have seen O’Callaghan in, at least he was once a great lock. We’ll get hockeyed!

Elsewhere – I’m a bit worried for Wales, without Gatland in charge they are not the same time, and the Welsh sides have been pretty dire this year. So I’m going Argentina  after a reasonable showing in the Rugby Championship.

I think the France/ Australia match could be a classic – the Wallabies always manage to punch well above their weight when you look at their player numbers, but France have ridiculous depth at the moment, so I’m going with France.

I’m not too keen on the England team they’ve selected – don’t seem to be taking Fiji too seriously, and the last I saw them play it was draw. Reckon Fiji will win!
Scotland get to tackle the All Blacks. If they get a bit of rain, the Scots area hugely physical team that are hard to put away. And I’d love to see Timbo Visser do some damage! I see a BIG fright for the All Blacks!

Enjoy the rugby!

Saturday , November 10
England vs Fiji 14:30
Wales vs Argentina 14:30
Italy vs Tonga 15:00
Ireland vs South Africa 17:30
France vs Australia 20:00

Sunday , November 11
Scotland vs New Zealand 14:30

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Ulster and Connacht fly, Munster scrape and not good enough from Leinster

Jamie Hagan (picture

Things went fairly well to plan this weekend for the Irish sides, well up until Sunday anyway. I watched the Munster match on Friday night, figuring it would be a better match than the Ulster one. Was I right – no, I’d say I made a  bad decision, as it wasn’t the greatest match.  I couldn’t stop watching though, the match held a terrible fascination as Munster labored to overcome a Cardiff teams with no stars and playing only marginally better than they did against Leinster last week. Munster’s pack looks good though, and that’s where they should be keeping the ball, route one. There seemed to be a lot of aimless passing which just moved the team backwards. Felix Jones had some good touches, and Tommy O’Donnell was full value for his two tries. That’s the kind of good old fashioned forward Munster need more of. Meanwhile, Ulster put Edinburgh away to keep topspot and their 100% record.

Connacht bagged a win against Treviso, and it was left to Leinster to complete the clean sweep for Ireland. Or not. They have 10 players away on international duty, and a good few influential injuries. But the Ospreys have their own absences as well, and on paper Leinster were the stronger side. They were the stronger side on the field as well in the first 50 minutes, way on top in the scrum, and narrowly missing out on two trys. Conditions were appalling, but Leinster couldn’t turn them to their advantage, and watched the game slip away in the last 20 minutes. Dave Kearney played really well at 15, Madigan showed brilliant touches but never really controlled the game, Boss did good, and Jamie Hagan was probably Leinster’s best player ( not the babelicious Jamie Hagan I found when I googled his name. You're welcome). Not nearly good enough.

RaboDirect PRO12
Sunday , November 4
Ospreys 19 - 10 Leinster 
Saturday , November 3
Connacht 18 - 3 Benetton Treviso 
Scarlets 22 - 13 Zebre 
Friday , November 2
Cardiff Blues 18 - 24 Munster 
Ulster 45 - 20 Edinburgh 
Glasgow 37 - 6 Newport-Gwent D'gons

Friday, November 2, 2012

Bent in for Leinster? - and It should be an Irish clean sweep

Michael Bent (

Ulster get things underway for Ireland in the Pro 12 with what should be an easy win over Edinburgh, especially with the Scots internationals away. Ulster have it all these days, including depth. They have Ferris , Gilroy and Marshall back from the Irish squad as well.

Munster travel to Wales, expecting some sort of backlash from Cardiff’s hammering in Dublin last weekend.  That’s a strong team Munster have put out. I’m hoping Felix Jones continues his injury free run, and builds up game time. I don’t think he’s ready for Ireland yet, but he’s going in the right direction – he could be an option at full back or wing in the future. With the top Welsh players in cryogenic chambers or whatever in Poland, this should be a good outing for the Munster men.

Connacht have the chance to get back to winning ways against Treviso, as they have a full squad to call on, and Treviso would have lost their Italian internationals. Could be a close one, as Treviso are a pretty decent side these days, but home advantage should see Connacht through.

Finally, Leinster  travel to Wales on Sunday on take on the Ospreys. Ulster have the newly famous Michael Bent to call on at prop, fresh from the Canes,  and utility back Andrew Goodman from Tasman. Dave Kearney and Rhys Ruddock are ready to go, and Jordi Murphy is the man I want to see, he seems to get better every time he plays. As the chief Ospreyalians are having their bits frozen off in Poland, I don’t think there’ll be much cheer for Welsh side this weekend.