Sunday, December 16, 2012

Leinster cancel Christmas, and other cheerful news from the Irish HC campaign.

Eoin McKeon (picture http://bit.ly/Ry53GY)

Last weekend, it was Leinster bringing up the rear for Ireland, this week there was no rear, it was all rear!

First up, Connacht put in a pretty awesome display of underwater hockey in France, and came off second best, but boy did they make Biarritz fight for that win! Eoin McKeon really caught my eye, he’s one to watch.

Then it was Leinster’s turn to be put to the sword as Clermont exacted revenge for numerous defeats over the years. Leinster looked asleep, lacking in leadership, and lacking in cutting edge. Not many players put their hand up – Sexton tried hard, and there were lots of workmanlike performances, but not much of this Blue Magic we get to hear about. We couldn’t stop Clermont on the gainline, , and it was nearly impossible to break their defense. In fairness Clermont were superb and absolutely deserved that victory. Mike Ross had a tough day at the office, and we really need depth at 4 and 5. There’s still the possibility of a runners up spot, but for all intents and purposes this is the end of the HC for Leinster. We’ve had our injury problems, and we could have done with a big name signing at lock. Be that as it may, we could have at least brought the intensity we shoed last week.

I was then looking forward to the Ulster match to pick my mood up – big mistake. Ulster, the current best thing since sliced bread in Irish rugby, looked a shadow of the team that thrashed the Saints last week. They lost Muller last week, and Bowe this week. You’d still back them to win the group, but it’s taken a bit of the gloss off their season so far. Marshall was the player who really caught my eye – is he the fastest player Ulster have? Tommy Bowe was certainly struggling to keep up with him. They came really close to snatching victory at the end, but couldn’t quite force the opportunity.

Finally, it was Munster’s turn to round off a dismal weekend for Irish rugby, losing away to Saracens. They faltered again, I think they had the winning of that match, but couln’t breach the defensive line of Saracens. When you saw how O’Gara opened them up with that chip kick for Zebo – you wonder why they didn’t vary their play more. And they miss the out and out brute force of O’Connell.

Elsewhere, the Ospreys played well to beat Toulouse at home.

Heineken Cup
Sunday , December 16
Castres 10 - 8 Glasgow 
Saracens 19 - 13 Munster 
Toulon 62 - 0 Sale 
Saturday , December 15
Ulster 9 - 10 Northampton 
Harlequins 53 - 5 Zebre 
Benetton Treviso 13 - 14 Leicester 
Ospreys 17 - 6 Toulouse 
Montpellier 34 - 21 Cardiff Blues 
Leinster 21 - 28 Clermont Auvergne 
Exeter 30 - 20 Scarlets 
Friday , December 14
Edinburgh 3 - 15 Racing Metro 92 
Biarritz 17 - 0 Connacht

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