Sunday, January 19, 2014

Three out of four ain't bad...


All the maths has been done, and all the quarter finalists sorted out for the HC and the AMC. Not by me, I was watching. And here they are, three Irish, three French and two English:

Ulster v Saracens
Clermont v Leicester
Toulon v Leinster
Munster v Toulouse
Semi-final Draw:
Ulster-Saracens v Clermont-Leicester
Toulon-Leinster v Munster-Toulouse

The Friday night matches were pretty poor, which is what you get with a 5 day turnaround. Leinster had an easy run in once Evans was red carded, but looked anything but sharp, except in patches. Luke Fitzgerald continues to impress, Healy was great, and with a best of rest and practice, they are going to give Toulon a good game.

I didn’t see the Connacht match, which is just as well as they got pretty comprehensively hammered by Saracens. Can’t take that away win over Toulouse from them though.

Ulster went to Welford Road looking for a win, played Leicester at their own grinding game, and got the result! The Tigers were shipping injuries all over the place, and Ulster seem to have more quality on the bench than they do these days.  They have a lot of injuries in the backs, but even their forwards don’t seem to have the physicality that the Tigers have always had. For Ulster, Chris Henry made his Ireland credentials clear, Rory Best is total performer, and Roger Wilson is an unsung hero. Meanwhile, Ruan Pienaar put in force 10.0 performance on the superlomometer, scoring all their points. One of the best players in Europe.

So on Sunday it was left to Munster to wrap things Ireland, which they did in style, with a hard edged performance that got them the bonus point, and a home quarter. Tommy O'Donnell is a workhorse who quietly puts in the hard yards, and should be getting higher recognition soon. Paul O’Connell was himself. Coughlan was industrious, and the stand out cameo was from Zebo, a man with time on ball. He needs to be parachuted back into the Irish team ASAP.

At one stage it was shaping up to be a Munster Leinster tie, but that all changed with Clermonts bonus point. Toulouse at home will be massive, but I don’t think we’ve seen the best of Munster yet.

Heineken Cup
Friday , January 17
Northampton 13 - 3 Castres 
Leinster 36 - 3 Ospreys 
Saturday , January 18
Saracens 64 - 6 Connacht 
Zebre 6 - 16 Toulouse 
Glasgow 8 - 15 Toulon 
Montpellier 24 - 6 Benetton Treviso 
Leicester 19 - 22 Ulster 
Cardiff Blues 13 - 19 Exeter 
Sunday , January 19
Perpignan 18 - 36 Gloucester 
Munster 38 - 6 Edinburgh 
Scarlets 20 - 22 Harlequins 
Clermont Auvergne 28 - 3 Racing Metro 92

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