Sunday, December 7, 2014

2/4, average outing for Ireland this weekend.

 Leinster coach Matt O'Connor talks to Douglas at UCD this afternoon.

There was some fiery rugby played this weekend, no more so than in Limerick, where Munster came up against a very determined Clermont side. This was not for the faint hearted, with international standard intensity. What the French team brought was, alongside their normal talented (and huge ) backs was amazing physicality, for the whole match. They stopped Munster’s big runners in their tracks – even Paul O’Connel struggled, it was that difficult, while CJ Stander and Dave Foley hardly seemed to feature. Tommy O’Donnell really stood up, MOTM for Munster for me. Part of the learning curve for Anthony Foley – what’s the plan when your driving game is out the window? Easy for me to say, but I would have liked to see Felix Jones brought in more at first receiver, he’s playing a blinder at the moment, or given JJ Hanrahan a run for 15 minutes. It’s not a disaster though, it’s tight at the top of the pool, and Munster are going to give Clermont a hell of a game next week.

Ulster got a bit back on the horse, with a 5 pointer over the Scarlets. Pienaar makes a huge difference, and their amazing array of backs really came into the match. Darren Cave just quietly gets better all the time. Toulon’s loss at the Tigers leaves the pool nice and open.

Leoinster battled away on Sunday, and only came away with a losing bonus point.  The scrum was a huge issue in the first half, and overall, I’d say we struggled to impose ourselves physically. What Douglas was doing on the bench, I don’t know, and I think Jordi is still a touch off the pace. Gopperth had a pretty good game, which is a relief, but our problem at the moment is that there’s no tempo to our back play – other teams used to sh8t themselves when the Leinster backs got the ball, now it’s just pretty routine tackling to keep them contained. That’s what Sexton and O’Driscoll used to bring. Overall though, if we can beat Quins at home next week we’ll head in to the break in good shape.

Finally, Connacht held the flag high for Ireland, with a BP point win over Bayonne.

European Rugby
 Champions Cup
Sunday , December 7
Castres 17 - 32 Wasps   
Harlequins 24 - 18 Leinster   
Leicester Tigers 25 - 21 Toulon   
Toulouse 19 - 11 Glasgow Warriors
Saturday , December 6
Sale Sharks 15 - 19 Saracens   
Treviso 15 - 38 Northampton   
Munster 9 - 16 Clermont Auvergne   
Ulster 24 - 9 Scarlets   
Ospreys 19 - 19 Racing Metro Paris   
Connacht 42 - 19 Bayonne
Montpellier 5 - 30 Bath

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