Dave McSharry (picture http://bit.ly/W9rRbH)
Another weekend of derbies, good teeth shaking stuff!
Saturday started off for the Irish provinces, with a seriously weakened Ulster team taking on a strong Munster side. Ulster had way the better of the first part of the game, pegging Munster back and enjoying a lot of possession. It was pretty well even stevens until Paul Marshall was sinbinned for dumb rucking after the whistle had gone. I really like Marshall, and would like to see him play for Ireland, but he’s got to watch his discipline. After that, Munster got a penalty try, Zebo sauntered through for another , then O’Mahony blasted over for the try that put the game to bed. Keatley put in a good break, and played pretty well, but there’s no doubting ROG’s class as he steered the ship home with pin point accurate kicking. Munster’s starting loose trio, and bench loose forwards are just awesome. They should really have got a bonus point try, but even a 2nd string Ulster side is top class these days. For Ulster, Luke Marshall is shouting loud and clear he’s ready for regular Ireland duty. I was also impressed by McComb and Stevenson, who put in a mountain of work. It’s as well for Ulster to get that unbeaten run monkey off their backs anyway.
Then it was a lightweight Leinster side, taking on Connacht. Connacht are ultra well drilled, their defense is absolutely top class, and their set moves very impressive, they just need a little something, luck even, to realize some of their potential. Nothing much happened for about the first 30 minutes, as Park’s kicking and an impressive line speed kept Leinster at bay. I like the way Leinster adapted their play, the holes were round the ruck, which they used to good effect, and Madigan dropped deeper to give him space. It was Madigan who opened the scoring, and it was pretty well all Leinster after that. McGrath played well and added another try, and although Leinster didn’t quite impose themselves like you’d expect, but there were lots of changes to the team. Jordi Murphy and Rhys Ruddock are growing into their roles, and Andrew Goodman showed some good touches. Fergus McFadden was as outstanding as ever. For Connacht Dave McSharry is a busy physical player, and Kieran Marmion looks like he could go a long way.
I saw London Irish do enough to beat Quins, but they don’t have any luck these days and the game ran away from them. Wake up lads, you’re going down!
Saturday , December 29
Benetton Treviso 26 - 18 Zebre
Edinburgh 17 - 21 Glasgow
Munster 24 - 10 Ulster
Leinster 17 - 0 Connacht
Monday , December 31
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ospreys 16:15