And while Ulster were knocking 7 shades of poo out of the Saints, Connacht were doing exactly the same to Biarritz! What a night for the West and North, what night for Ireland.
On Saturday it was Munster’s turn to make the Galacticos of the Premiership look very ordinary indeed. Munster sucked them down into an arm wrestle, with predictable consequences. It was a feisty affair, with fights all over the place, DOC yellow carded – well I never, with Rhys Gill, for an off the ball scrap. Munster are getting to grips with a new style, they need to get a bit of patience back, but they are starting to hum nicely. I thought James Coughlan and Dave O’Callaghan were outstanding, and being tackled by Doug Howlett is like running into a brick wall. Big names like Goode, Ashton and Farrell weren’t mentioned often. The Fortress Thomond is backup and running!
So it was left to Leinster to make for 4 from 4 for the Irish teams…which they couldn’t quite do. They got really close though, playing intelligent, skilful rugby. They kept the ball in hand, played well in the tight, and had Clermont’s defence guessing out wide. Damian Browne is growing every match, but where they really need some magic now is in their line out, as they butchered at least three good opportunities to score some points with fumbled lineouts. Tacking scrum penalties off Clermont though, that is some achievement! The pack all played well, and in the backs McFadden was outstanding, with kick chases,ferocious tackling, and a handful in attack. Clermont are a team of stars, but even then Bonnaire shone, and Fofana is such a dangerous runner. At least we can bank the point, and hope for one better next week.
Otherwise, I saw the Ospreys giving Toulouse a reasonable game – really like Tupiric, and Kahn Fotuali'I was man of the match for me. Sale made life awkward for Toulon in the next match, where James Gaskell put in a hugely impressive performance.
Sunday , December 9
Leicester 33 - 25 Benetton Treviso
Clermont Auvergne 15 - 12 Leinster
Cardiff Blues 24 - 35 Montpellier
Saturday , December 8
Racing Metro 92 19 - 9 Edinburgh
Munster 15 - 9 Saracens
Scarlets 16 - 22 Exeter
Zebre 14 - 57 Harlequins
Sale 6 - 17 Toulon
Toulouse 30 - 14 Ospreys
Friday , December 7
Glasgow 6 - 9 Castres
Connacht 22 - 14 Biarritz
Glasgow 6 - 9 Castres
Northampton 6 - 25 Ulster