Sunday, January 17, 2016

A bit of redemption for Munster and Leinster!

 Ross Molony

Another weekend of mixed fortunes for the Irish provinces in Europe, some stellar performances, and some not so stellar.

Munster were the first up, with a chance to redeem themselves after a difficult week. And they duly dug deep and came up the performance their fans were looking for. A bonus point win over Stade is just what they needed right now, and lifts a world of pressure off their shoulders. They redicovered some of the intenisty of old, tackled well, and kept the tempo high and accurate. CJ Stander was as ever excellent, Earls shone, and Billy Holland put in an awesome shift.

Ulster were up next, but they faltered under the weight of the onslaught of Saracens, not helped by their growing injury list. Nick Williams was the biggest absentee, he really makes an impact in both defense and attack. They showed early on they had come to play, but Saracens suffocating defense, and the effort of making so many tackles wore them down in the end. They still have a chance to qualify in the last match though.

Leinster’s performance from their guns was one to savour. Bath brought their full team, but left empty handed, in a match dominated by the home team. Names like Molony, Ringrose and Van Der Flier will become household names one day, but there’s a step up from the whole squad. They are playing an attractive style too, and the pressure is right off Leo Cullen. Still too early to say whether he’ll be a success as a coach, but 6 months into the job, he does look like he’s settling into it.
Finally, Connacht slipped up in their efforts to take control of their group in the Challenge Cup, losing in the last minute to Brive. But they’re still in the mix to qualify, all to do next week.

Friday, January 15
Ospreys 21 - 13    Clermont Auvergne
Saturday, January 16
Bordeaux Begles 34 - 27    Exeter Chiefs
Munster 26 - 13    Stade Français Paris
Oyonnax 32 - 14    Stade Toulousain
Saracens 33 - 17    Ulster
Leinster 25 - 11    Bath Rugby
Leicester Tigers 47 - 7    Benetton Treviso
Sunday, January 17
Northampton Saints v    Glasgow Warriors
Racing 92 64 - 14    Scarlets
Toulon 15 - 11    Wasps

Brive 21 - 18    Connacht

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