Sunday, December 20, 2015

Ulster spare Irelands blushes in a challenging weekend for rugby here!

 Luke Fitzgerald
 Luke Fitzgerald

Well, Leinster had the task of getting Ireland of to a good start this weekend…and couldn’t. They had a smashing first half, absolutely hammering away at Toulon, and profiting. They took on Toulon at the breakdown, and beat them at their own game. Ruddock had a fantastic match, he’s a powerhouse – tackling, carrying the ball up, and making a great break. I’d say really, although we lost, very few players had a bad match. We struggled in two areas – we didn’t have the quality of replacements in the scrum – Marty Moore struggled when Ross went off – is Furlong not second choice now? And out and out, we struggled with their size, too many tackles on huge huge men eventually took its toll. I’m probably on my own here, we’re nowhere near where we should be, but we’re on our way up again. Sexton is getting some form, and Fitzgerald has never played better. Time to forget about the Champion’s cup, and get our season underway in the PRO 12.

Ulster are a team on the up, after a so so start to the season, they’ve come roaring back, very few teams beat Toulouse home and away. Huge character from the Ulstermen to get this win, and keep themselves in the hunt. I have the feeling they will have to beat Saracens away to ensure they qualify – but on this sort of form, it’s all on.

Connacht’s chronic run of injuries caught up with them as Newcastle ran out easy winners at home.

Finally, it was left to Munster to even up the results for Ireland at Welford road against the Leicester Tigers. Ultimately, although they played way better than last week, they came up short. And they’ll be kicking themselves, because they made chances, with a few good breaks, but it all fell down at just the wrong moment. Their intensity was good, they played really well, and away this sort of loss is no disgrace. If they keep up like this, the wins will come. Copeland and Stander were outstanding, and Saili is a real talent. He just needs a bit of tempering though, to learn when to hang on and when to offload.

Friday, December 18
Northampton Saints 9 - 9    Racing 92
Saturday, December 19
Saracens 55 - 13    Oyonnax
Bath Rugby 10 - 36    Wasps
Stade Français Paris 40 - 14    Benetton Treviso
Bordeaux Begles 33 - 27    Ospreys
Leinster 16 - 20    Toulon
Scarlets 6 - 9    Glasgow Warriors
Sunday, December 20
Stade Toulousain 23 - 25    Ulster
Clermont Auvergne 42 - 10    Exeter Chiefs
Leicester Tigers 17 - 6    Munster

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