Thursday, September 5, 2013

Tadaah! The new season is here, I hope Leinster start well against the Scarlets!

Tadaah! Here is the rugby season again, and Leinster have a tricky first match to navigate against the Scarlets at the Parc y Scarlets. Welsh teams at home are often a banana skin for Leinster, but at least it’s a pretty strong Leinster side that’s been named.  The starting props are an interesting selection, with Moore and McGrath filling the spots. Heinke van der Merwe is plying his trade at Stade Francaise this season, and with Michael Bent injured, we are light at prop. Of course, it’s also an opportunity for someone to make a name for themselves in that position. Dave Kearney at fullback will be interesting, and I hope Jimmy Gopperth kicks on from his solid start last weekend.

The Scarlets have a pretty handy looking team, they’ve lost George North obviously but the team is stuffed with decent players, and I kind of think they may pip Leinster. Let’s see!
I fancy Ulster will sort out the Dragons at Rodney Parade, with a  strong first team and some good replacements to come on. Connacht are likely to make a winning start against Zebre, and Munster should bag a win at home against Edinburgh.

Also returning this weekend is the Rugby Championship.  Even with Lobbe retuning for Argentina, it’s hard to see them shocking the All Blacks at home. Whatever New Zealand are saying they view this match as glorified training run, so there’s Argentina’s opportunity- but they just have too much class, so it should be a comfortable win for the home side.

In the other fixture, the Springboks visit Brisbane to take on Australia. Quade Cooper is back in the hot seat, and for me the other surprises are George North’s mate Israel Folau at fullback, and Nick Cummins on the wing. Cummins is a journeyman at best to me, and I wonder how Folau is going to handle the aerial bombardment that is surely going to come his way. South Africa have Zane Kirchner at fullback, probably a good move as Willie Le Roux, moved to wing, fumbled quite a few high balls against the Pumas.  The Boks starting pack is better than the Aussies, their bench is better too, but they generally stink playing way from home, so if they do win this I don’t think it’ll be by much.

Scarlets: 15 Gareth Owen, 14 Liam Williams, 13 Scott Williams, 12 Steve Shingler, 11 Kristian Phillips, 10 Rhys Priestland, 9 Gareth Davies, 8 Rob McCusker (capt), 7 Josh Turnbull, 6 Aaron Shingler, 5 Jo Snyman, 4 George Earle, 3 Samson Lee, 2 Ken Owens, 1 Phil John.
Replacements: 16 Emyr Phillips, 17 Rob Evans, 18 Jacobie Adriaanse, 19 Jake Ball, 20 Craig Price, 21 Rhodri Williams, 22 Adam Warren, 23 Jordan Williams.
Leinster: 15 Dave Kearney, 14 Darragh Fanning, 13 Fergus McFadden, 12 Gordon D'Arcy, 11 Luke Fitzgerald, 10 Jimmy Gopperth, 9 Eoin Reddan, 8 Jordi Murphy, 7 Shane Jennings (capt), 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Devin Toner, 4 Tom Denton, 3 Martin Moore, 2 Sean Cronin, 1 Jack McGrath.
Replacements: 16 Aaron Dundon, 17 Jack O'Connell, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Mike McCarthy, 20 Dominic Ryan, 21 Isaac Boss, 22 Noel Reid, 23 Brendan Macken.

RaboDirect PRO12
Friday , September 6
Scarlets vs Leinster 
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Ulster 
Glasgow vs Cardiff Blues 
Saturday , September 7
Connacht vs Zebre 17:00
Benetton Treviso vs Ospreys 18:30
Munster vs Edinburgh 

Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 7
New Zealand vs Argentina 08:35
Australia vs South Africa 

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