Sunday, December 13, 2015

50% enjoyment, 50% torture for the Irish teams!

 Rhys Ruddock
 Rhys Ruddock

Friday night at Ravenhill was one to savour for the Ulstermen as they absolutely thrashed Toulouse. That was some win, it’s an awesome team, but Toulouse looked completely ordinary as Ulster brought red hot intensity. Hard direct running from Trimble, Gilroy and McCloskey put Toulouse on the backfoot, and then the forwards climbed in and made their presence felt. Pienaar was superb too, if Ulster can play like this for the rest of the season they’ll do well.

Connacht put their injuries aside as they got a good home win against Newcastle.

Then it was an uncomfortable evening for Munster against Leicester on Saturday. Munster have nearly all the elements of a good team, but they don’t quite fit together yet. Some great performances from Copeland, Murray and Earls. But lots of all too ordinary play, with terrible defence letting Ben Youngs in for his try. You shouldn’t lose your home games in this tournament, and they’ve left themselves a lot to do now. I thought Mark Chisolm made a big difference when he came on, making good yards, and to be honest, I’d be starting him all the time, probably make him captain.

If Saturday evening was hard to watch, Sunday afternoon was even more woeful, as Leinster’s slim qualification hopes spluttered out in Toulon. Murdered in the breakdown and on the scoreboard, Leinster just didn’t have the answers. Wrong tactics, they had to look after the breakdown better easy than that, poor execution of the tactics they did have, and bad discipline (although Toner’s yellow card was really harsh). There were a few bright patches – the scrum and line out were ultra solid, Ruddock had a stormer, and Fitzgerald is on fire. But Sexton looks just completely out of form. No easy fixes either, and there is just a general lack of leadership too.

Friday, December 11
Ulster 38 - 0    Stade Toulousain
Saturday, December 12
Glasgow Warriors 43 - 6    Scarlets
Benetton Treviso 17 - 50    Stade Français Paris
Racing 92 33 - 3    Northampton Saints
Exeter Chiefs 31 - 14    Clermont Auvergne
Ospreys 19 - 16    Bordeaux Begles
Munster 19 - 31    Leicester Tigers
Sunday, December 13
Toulon 24 v 9    Leinster
Wasps  23 v 25  Bath Rugby
Oyonnax 10 - 45    Saracens

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