Sunday, October 13, 2013

Leinster get back on the horse, Munster fall off, Ulster are firing again and Connacht were superb

Is that an alice band I spy?  (picture

That was a 50:50 weekend for Ireland inc. On Friday, Ulster started to show a bit of their form from the last few years with a hard fought win over the Tigers. Not the pyrotechnics of a few years ago, but it was one they weren’t going to let go. They have several players roaring back into form, Bowe, Touhy, Wilson, Jackson, and Tom Court, with a bit of advice on his technique at half time, got some sweet revenge against Mr Scrumbender himself, Dan Cole.  These guys are only going to get better – with players like Diack, Olding and Henderson on the bench they have real depth these days, not to mention Afoa and Ferris still injured. Are the Tigers feeling O’Connors loss? They have injuries, but they seem to have lost some of their physicality.

Connacht in Galway were typically superb – you only had to see Saracens celebrating at the end to know what a battle they were in. They are making the Sportsground their fortress in this competition.

Munster were up next for Ireland, but arrived with their B game, looking as if they thought the match started at 3 instead of 1.30. They played some decent rugby in patches, and in fairness Edinburgh played well. It doesn’t mean Munster won’t go on to top the group, but it’s one they should have won. To me they need to concentrate on a back to basics forwards based game, sort out their pretty awful line out, keep it tight and only let it out when at all necessary. Well, they can only get better you hope.

Leinster turned it around at the liberty stadium, putting last weekend behind them and getting back on the horse, with a tough away victory. It wasn’t a characteristic running game from Leinster, but based on defense, and powerful running the ball up from Healsip and O’Brien. And McLaughlin, Ruddock and Cronin. Their scrum stood up well too, even without Ross. The Ospreys couldn’t break through, and just moved the ball from side to side. Finally, one for the Ospreys fans – Richard Hibbard is a superb player, a mighty Lion and all – but is there any chance you could all chip in for an alice band to keep his hair back?

I also saw a fair bit of the Scarlets Quins match – mighty performance from the Scarlets, where Scott Williams and Aaron Shingler starred, and Rhodri  Williams has future international stamped all over him.

Heineken Cup
Friday , October 11
Ulster 22 - 16 Leicester 
Connacht 17 - 23 Saracens 
Toulouse 38 - 5 Zebre 
Saturday , October 12
Benetton Treviso 10 - 27 Montpellier 
Edinburgh 29 - 23 Munster 
Castres 19 - 13 Northampton 
Gloucester 27 - 22 Perpignan 
Ospreys 9 - 19 Leinster 
Harlequins 26 - 33 Scarlets 
Sunday , October 13
Exeter 44 - 29 Cardiff Blues 
Toulon 51 - 28 Glasgow 

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