Sunday, February 21, 2016

In their defense...Leinster can be smug, but not Ulster, Munster or Connacht!

Jack O'Donoghue 
 Jack O’Donoghue

Munster got things going with a close defeat in Glasgow on Friday night. Munster fans won’t be happy, but I thought it was big step up from their performance last week, a really ballsy effort that showed a lot of heart. They have some defensive deficiencies they have to sort out. But they wouldn’t lie down, kept getting up and making the tackles, making the metres, and all the more impressive when you look at the age of some of the players. Robin Copeland going off was a big setback, and if Frances Saili was playing he would have cut Duncan Weir in half before he got anywhere near the tryline. It’s going to turn soon. Players like Jack O’Donoghue, O’Mahoney and Sweetnam could go a long way.

On Saturday Leinster slugged it out in in a howling gale in Cardiff. They don’t come much harder fought than that, and was only the second loss at home for the Blues. Leinster built that game on defense, Conan was excellent and, Mick Kearney looks like he is going to make a big impact. We are going to have to work on our discipline, just too many yellow cards recently. But apart from that, four good points in a hostile environment, against a committed team – job well done.

It was raining tries in Zebre as Connacht came out well the right side of the score line, scoring a rake of tries, but conceding a good few too. Matt Healy is in Rolls Royce form, as is Bundi Akee, as the men from the west reclaimed the top spot from Leinster.

Finally, it ended up a miserable afternoon at Kingsholm, as Ulster failed to hold the Scarlets out. There were a few bright spots, including the form of Craig Gilroy and Luke Marshall. But what wasn’t impressive was their defence – the Scarlets seemed to find it all too easy to get round on the outside and through the middle – how many ways are left? Ulster had to really toil to get their points, while at the same powerless to stop leaking points behind them. The Scarlets are a really competent outfit, this year is a big opportunity for them to win the whole thing, but you still feel Ulster could have derailed them with more intensity.

Overall though, three out four of the provinces need some major work on their defence!

Friday, February 19
Benetton Treviso 19 - 17    Dragons
Ospreys 27 - 13    Edinburgh
Glasgow Warriors 27 - 24    Munster
Saturday, February 20
Cardiff Blues 13 - 14    Leinster
Zebre 34 - 51    Connacht
Sunday, February 21
Ulster 20 - 21    Scarlets

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