Sunday, October 23, 2016

Munster do Anthony Foley justice, and wins for Ulster and Connacht!

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Munster paid a fitting tribute to Anthony Foley, putting Glasgow to the sword in emphatic fashion on Saturday. Emotions were high - none more so for me than when his sons came on at the end to be with the team. Munster mostly manged to channel that emotion into controlled aggression, and not even Earls red card slowed them down. It wasn't just emotion though, a few other things made a big difference. First up, a nearly full Thomond Park making an impressively loud racket. Secondly they finally have a fly half to pull the strings and present his own challenge. It's been a long time coming but Bleyandaal is finally delivering on his promise. A word for Sweetnam and his kick off work too.

At the Kingspan Stadium Ulster got home by the skin of their teeth, fly halves exchanging drop goals in the final 5 minute, but Ulster having the final say. Ulster are still not completely clicking yet, but they need to get a few players back. But it was nearly a knock out match so they did well, Exeter gave it their all, and it was played in driving rain in the first half so handling was difficult. Moment of the match was the the crowd singing The Fields of Athenry - spine tingling stuff.

Leinster had a pretty average day at the office against Motpellier, not coming to terms with the size of their pack - have any of these players been tested for horse genes? They struggled all afternoon with the lineout, and were lucky not to concede a yellow there. I think some of problems lay with Sexton and O'Brien, neither of whom looked up to speed. Carberry put a lot of sharpness back in to the attack, in particular in the last ten minutes when the monstrous Montpellier forwards really tired. Gibson Park also added a new dimension to the attack, and should really be starting, finally putting Isa away to get a try and grab a bonus point. Considering we played badly, gave them a try, and had to tackle (or not) a man monster winger, all in all we did alright to end the weekend on top of our group.

Connacht ran away with the win, getting a bonus point, and there was a fine debut for Stacey Ili. The match was also notable for a red card for Zebre hooker Oliviero Fabian. Connacht also top their group.

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