Thursday, September 25, 2014

This weekend, I'm going Leinster, Ulster, and Munster, All Blacks and Springboks!

 Kane Douglas ( Picture:

This week offers some home comforts to Leinster, and an opportunity to get back on the horse. They always play better at home – what has set them apart in the past has been their ability to get away wins, and they need to rediscover that art. They have good news in the arrival of Kane Douglas, all 6’8’’ 123kg of him. He’s badly needed, but I hope he’s managed properly, as there is a bit of a history of Southern Hemisphere stars coming out of a full season of Super Rugby, and getting injured. In front of him will be a rejigged front row featuring the forgotten man of Irish Rugby, Michael Bent. The rumors are that Cian Healy is injured and out for a while.  Darcy starts at 13, but the backline at leas tlooks a little bit settled now. The Blues have plenty of talent in their team, but don’t normally have mush to show for it, and as their last win in Dublin is ten years ago, I don’t think that’ll change this weekend.

Connacht travel to Glasgow with a few of their key players rested. They have a bit of depth in their squad, but I’d say they are not really expecting to win this won, and it looks like victory for Glasgow.
Ulster travel to Zebre to claim what surely should be a victory, if not 5 points. They are a bit light at lock now, with Tuohy and Henderson out for lengthy spells, but apart from that they have strength in depth.

Munster have the Ospreys at home, in what is likely to be the clash of the weekend. Munster have had a setback with Dominic Ryan set for more time on the sideline. This is their first proper match of the campaign, with all due respect to Edinburgh, Zebre and Treviso. The Ospreys are always there or thereabouts, and are unbeaten so far, although that’s the Dragons, Edinburgh and Treviso they’ve played. This is both teams big test, and that basis you’d expect home advantage to see Munster through.

In the Rugby Championship, the Springboks have a run on debut for Tebo Mohoje, who replaces the injured Francois Louw. Lots of pressure on him, but more on the Wallabies, who haven’t won in Cape Town for 22 years. There scrum still looks wobbly, and their umpteenth new hooker this week won’t help. I think there’s a few Springboks due a big match, including Willie Le Roux, and Jan Sefontein in attack ( after his superb 22 tackles against the All Blacks). Australia don’t seem to be all on the same page yet, so a win for the Boks, maybe a good one.

Finally, the Pumas and the All Blacks get it on in Argentina. Everybody knows the Pumas are getting better, and there’s a smidgen of opportunity for them, with a new 10/12 axis, and a weakness at hooker for New Zealand. As I don’t really think that the Pumas believe they can beat the All Blacks, they probably won’t but this is their big chance.

Guinness PRO12
Friday , September 26
Edinburgh vs Scarlets       19:35
Glasgow vs Connacht      19:35
Leinster vs Cardiff Blues
Saturday , September 27
Zebre vs Ulster   15:00
Munster vs Ospreys          18:30
Sunday , September 28
Newport Gwent D'gons vs Benetton Treviso          16:00
Rugby Championship
Saturday , September 27
South Africa vs Australia 16:05
Argentina vs New Zealand             23:10

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