Sunday, September 15, 2013

A weekend of nearly’s and what ifs

 Jarred Payne (picture

This was a weekend that promised a lot, and didn’t quite deliver, not in the way I wanted it to anyway. I may sulk. First of all, it was the Leinster, Ulster et al.

Ulster,at home are potent now, even Leinster struggle, and lose when we go there these days. They had a 6 point lead over Glasgow for most of the 2nd half, and were camped on their line for most of the second half, but couldn’t take any points, and then shipped a try in the last minute to lose it. Talk about a sucker punch! They need to start throwing more names in the team and get some momentum going. They have such strength in depth, but are just slightly off the mark. Off the mark apart from Jarred Payne, who is the most relaxed player you can imagine, always has time on the ball, and I can’t wait until he’s Ireland qualified.

Leinster meanwhile, dish up the finest champagne rugby, and the vilest 2litre value cider in the same match. In the first half against the Ospreys they couldn’t stop scoring beautiful tries, and it looked like it was going to be a cricket score. Then they totally switched off, let the Ospreys into the game, the Ospreys scored two great tries of their own, and they had Cronin sin binned. That was the wake up call, they got back on the horse, got the lead, but still managed to give away a draw right at the end. There are bright spots – Goperth is on fire, but needs to work on his tactical game, Jordi Murphy gets better every time, and Jack McGrath shone again. They need a few of their stars back just to settle them down – a few less back three injuries would help too.

Munster came from behind to get a convincing win over Zebre, where by all accounts it was the initials – JJ and CJ who shon, and Connacht went down to the Blues.

Saturday morning was the big one – All Blacks vs the Springboks. I ran at 7 (at a freezing 5C) so I’d be nice and early, breakfast and coffee ready – then into the match! But 10 minutes in it started going pear shaped , with Bismarck du Plessis sin binned for what was judged a dangerous tackle.  You’ve seen them given, but… and his second a red in minute 42 snuffed it out as a contest. There was some superb intense rugby in the first half to enjoy, and the result was probably going to be a win for the AB’s anyway. I say that because the Boks didn’t handle the pressure of the occasion well enough, they were jumpy, made simple mistakes, and Ruan Pienaar in particular wasn’t great. The All Blacks lost Dan Carter, and Dagg, took their bonus point well enough – but Argentina and SA away are going to be ultra tough.

After the first match, Australia v the Pumas was a let down, the weather didn’t help, but it was a dreary affair. Australia look like a sitting duck for their away games, as Argentina could have won this with a bit more composure.

RaboDirect PRO12
Ulster  12 - 13  Glasgow 
Leinster 29 - 29 Ospreys 
Scarlets 26 - 10 Benetton Treviso 
Zebre 21 - 43 Munster 
Cardiff Blues 21 - 10 Connacht 
Edinburgh 16 - 13 Newport Gwent D'gons 
More RaboDirect PRO12 results
Rugby Championship
New Zealand 29 - 15 South Africa 
Australia 14 - 13 Argentina

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