Friday, September 18, 2020

Preview : Leinster v Saracens

The third Pro 14 title in a row to extend a winning streak to 25 was awesome and all, but like I said in my writeup of the final, as arrogant as it might sound, it has all been leading to this match kicking off at 3pm on Saturday.


Only the Rugby Gods could be cruel enough to pit us against Saracens in the last eight after such a comfortable pool campaign.  It can be spun so many different ways - Pro 14 champs vs bottom team in Premiership being one, although anyone that knows anything about the game will tell you this is really about avenging what happened in Newcastle in May 2019, after which the winning run began.


During the week as part of our “Opposition View” series on The HarpinOnRugby Podcast, I spoke to Sarries fan Debbie Knight and one thing I got from the chat is just how strong their squad is even without Owen Farrell.  Alex Goode has just passed 300 games for the club and will be more than capable of deputising, and to go with the test Vunipolas Mako and Billy on the pitch, there’s another in out-half Manu ready to spring from the bench.


But what really needs to be respected about their team is not the individuals, more how they play together, especially on defence.  And we Leinster fans should know a thing or six about that since it is often said about us, and not just on these pages.  So let’s crack on with looking at our matchday 23.


What I like most about it is how settled the overall look is.  Much has been said about the way we use over 50 players a season but with the exception of the first meeting with Ulster since the break, the core of the team has pretty much stayed the same. 


Again I have to give kudos to Hugo Keenan for making it through the four weeks to retain his starting role in Europe.  I’ve harped quite a bit about how solid our defensive wall has been, especially the past two weeks when we conceded only 8 points in 160 minutes (all in the first quarter) but a lot of the credit also goes to our back three who have handled the aerial onslaught very well.


But there are other ways we can hand our opposition chances, and top of this list has to be our lineout.  Rónan Kelleher drops down to the bench which is a really good chance for Sean Cronin, and while his ball carrying and scrummaging will be important, every Leinster fan will be crossing fingers, toes and eyes every time he has a dart to throw. 


And as it has oft been said, responsibility does not just fall on the hooker for this crucial set piece to go right - the timing from his fellow forwards also needs to be spot on though in fairness with Toner making the calls and Ryan, Conan and Doris among the options we should be well set.

If we can get those platforms right, it should allow Mr Sexton to get that backline singing.  He’s also brimming with options and I really like what I have seen Henshaw & Ringrose bring to the table since the break.  And then there’s James Lowe.  You could say he has been quiet by his standards, but then again his involvement at the beginning, middle and end of our opening try last Saturday shows what he can do at the right moment.


The matchups all over the park are close but if anything we have the edge at most positions; the fact that we can afford to move last week’s Player of the Match to the bench and leave Scott Fardy out altogether speaks volumes.  Ahead of the Pro 14 final I was worried about us giving away penalties at midfield because they could turn them into tries from close lineouts - as it turned out, our defence was able to hold them out.  This time, however, we have Elliot Daly in the mix so those same pings could well become three points every time so we still need to stay on the right side of ref Pascal Gauzere.


Speaking of the official, that will be an interesting aspect of this fixture.  Much was made about the interpretation of the breakdown since the return from the COVID break but with Leinster having faced just two Irish opponents in those four weeks and just two different refs, I’m hoping the change isn’t too drastic for us.  Though in fairness, Sarries have only had the English men in the middle themselves.  Hopefully that won’t be a factor for either side.


Now to stick the head over the parapet...the bookies have us winning by 9 points.  As always, I hate those predictions for such a massive knockout contest.  I believe Sarries will really come at us - with Mark McCall behind their strategy and literally nothing else for them to play for in over a year, we’ll have to be at our best.


But for all the talk of us losing a lot without the roar of the blue flag-waving army at the Aviva Stadium, the fact remains this will be our fifth week in a row playing their under these conditions, so if anything that will be to our advantage.  My heart says we’ll win relatively comfortably, but I’ll go with my head and say it will be close enough with a Leinster win by 4-6 points.


As with every match since rugby returned, it’s a shame we can’t be there in person, but hopefully we’ll all be able to get to a screen somehow.  If you don’t have BT Sport, RugbyKino put a good suggestion on our Facebook page - “I'm looking at getting a Now TV day pass for €10 and streaming it from the laptop or phone. If Leinster get through to the semis it'll be on Virgin Media One as well as on Channel 4, so no need for the monthly pass*.


Fingers crossed we’ll all be glued to those channels next weekend!!! And of course best of luck to the Ulstermen on the Sunday in Toulouse.  JLP


* = FYI neither of us is being paid to say that about NowTV...just passing on info


Saracens : 15 Elliot Daly 14 Alex Lewington 13 Duncan Taylor 12 Brad Barritt 11 Sean Maitland 10 Alex Goode 9 Richard Wigglesworth
1 Mako Vunipola 2 Jamie George 3 Vincent Koch 4 Maro Itoje 5 Tim Swinson 6 Mike Rhodes 7 Jackson Wray 8 Billy Vunipola
Replacements 16 Tom Woolstencroft 17 Richard Barrington 18 Alec Clarey 19 Callum Hunter-Hill 20 Calum Clark 21 Aled Davies 22 Manu Vunipola 23 Dom Morris. 

Heineken Champions Cup - Quarterfinal
Saturday, September 19, 2020
KO 3pm
Aviva Stadium

Referee: Pascal Gauzère (Fra)
AR1: George Clancy (Ire)
AR2: Joy Neville (Ire)
TMO: Olly Hodges (Ire)

BT Sport 3

Front Five - 18.09.20

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

ICYMI click here for our weekly list
of upcoming rugby on Irish TV


Alex Goode, the most likely candidate to replace Farrell, operates at a different volume.


Mike Henson - BBC Rugby

...it is anticipated that the IRFU will “continue to burn at least €5 million a month”, primarily on professional game wages and costs.


Michelle Hennessy - The42.ie

"We’ve got confidence following our performances in the Six Nations...but there’s plenty to build on so we’re in a good space to push forward."


Sarah Mockford - Rugby World

“The EPCR Board has unanimously agreed to a change in the tournament rules which permits the registration of front row players after the September 1 deadline”


Planet Rugby

...the Englishman didn't exactly do himself many favours by being sent off recently and banned for five weeks after a dangerous tackle


Mark Orders - WalesOnline

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP

Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Rugby on TV : Sep 17-24

Rugby on TV is brought to you by
the IrishRugby TV YouTube channel


THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 17

7AM
REDS V REBELS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU QUAL FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

7:10AM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

7:40AM
WHERE'S YOUR PRIDE?
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

11AM
THE PRO 14 HOUR
EIR SPORT 2

1PM
LEINSTER V ULSTER (R)
PRO 14 FINAL
EIR SPORT 2

4PM
LEINSTER V ULSTER (R)
PRO 14 FINAL
EIR SPORT 1

6PM
THE PRO 14 HOUR
EIR SPORT 1

6PM
OSPREYS V SARACENS (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7PM
LEINSTER V LYON (R-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7:30PM
RUGBY TONIGHT ON TOUR
BT SPORT 3

8PM
CLÉRMONT V ULSTER (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

9PM
RACING 92 V MUNSTER (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10PM
THE PRO 14 HOUR
EIR SPORT 1

10PM
BENETTON V LEINSTER (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11:30PM
CRUSADERS V HURRICANES (R-2014)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS 
SKY SPORTS ARENA

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 18

7AM
WARATAHS V SUNWOLVES (H-2019)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS ARENA

7AM
THE TEAM THAT TURNED UP
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

8AM
TASMAN V NORTHLAND (L)
MITRE 10 CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA
SKY SPORTS MAIN EVENT

9AM
HARLEQUINS V CLÉRMONT (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10AM
THE PRO14 HOUR
EIR SPORT 2

10AM
MUNSTER V GLOUCESTER (R-2003)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11:30AM
RUGBY TONIGHT ON TOUR
BT SPORT 2

12PM
MUNSTER V LEINSTER (R-2006)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

2PM
RUGBY TONIGHT ON TOUR
BT SPORT 3

2PM
MUNSTER V BIARRITZ (R-2006)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

3:15PM
RUGBY TONIGHT ON TOUR
BT SPORT 2

4PM
MUNSTER V TOULOUSE (R-2008)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

5PM
ENGLAND V SOUTH AFRICA (R-2019)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

6PM
THE PRO1 4 HOUR
EIR SPORT 1

6PM
ULSTER V BATH (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7PM
NEW ZEALAND V ITALY (R-1987)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 1

7PM
MUNSTER V OSPREYS (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7PM
BRISTOL BEARS V DRAGONS (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
BT SPORT 2

8PM
MONTPELLIER V CONNACHT (H-2019)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

8:40PM
SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND (R-2007)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 1

9:55PM
CHAMPIONS CUP 2020 - THE STORY SO FAR
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10:25PM
THE PRO14 HOUR
EIR SPORT 1

11PM
CHAMPIONS CUP - 25 YEARS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11:25PM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

11:30PM
IRELAND V ENGLAND (H-2007)
CLASSIC 6 NATIONS

SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19

3AM
WAIKATO V NORTH HARBOUR (L)
MITRE10 CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

6AM
CANTERBURY V TARANAKI (L)
MITRE10 CUP
SKY SPORTS MAIN EVENT
SKY SPORTS ARENA

9:45AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (L)
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

10:45AM
BRISTOL BEARS V DRAGONS (R)
CHALLENGE CUP
BT SPORT 3

11AM
LEINSTER V LEICESTER (R-2009)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

12:15PM
BORDEAUX V EDINBURGH (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
BT SPORT 3

1PM
NORTHAMPTON V LEINSTER (R-2011)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

2:15PM
THE PRO14 HOUR
EIR SPORT 1

2:30PM
LEINSTER V SARACENS (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 3

3PM
LEINSTER V ULSTER (R-2012)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

5PM
LEINSTER V RACING 92 (R-2018)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

5:15PM
CLÉRMONT V RACING 92 (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 3

7PM
CHAMPIONS CUP -25 YEARS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7:10PM
SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND (R-2007)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

7:15PM
LEINSTER V GLASGOW WARRIORS (R-2014)
RUGBAÍ GOLD
TG4

7:30PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

8PM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

8:15PM
TOULON V SCARLETS (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
BT SPORT 3

8:55PM
MUNSTER V TOULOUSE (R-2008)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

10:30PM
MUNSTER V LEINSTER (R-2009)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11:15PM
LEINSTER V SARACENS (R)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 2

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20

3AM
MANUWATU V OTAGO (L)
MITRE10 CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

4AM
SHARKS V BULLS (H-2007)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS MIX

5AM
BULLS V CHIEFS (H-2009)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS MIX

6AM
AUCKLAND V WELLINGTON (L)
MITRE10 CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

7AM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

8AM
CRUSADERS V BLUES (H-1998)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS ARENA

8AM-9PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS (2019)
8AM EDINBURGH V MUNSTER
9AM MUNSTER V EXETER
10AM OSPREYS V MUNSTER
11AM MUNSTER V SARACENS
12PM RACING 92 V MUNSTER
1PM MUNSTER V RACING 92
2PM MUNSTER V OSPREYS
3PM LEINSTER V ULSTER
4PM LEINSTER V TOULOUSE
5PM NORTHAMPTON V LEINSTER
6PM LEINSTER V NORTHAMPTON
7PM LEINSTER V LYON
8PM BENETTON V LEINSTER
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

8:25AM
THE BIG TACKLE
CHAMPIONS CUP
CHANNEL 4

8:30AM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

9AM
CRUSADERS V HIGHLANDERS (H-2002)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS

10AM
HAWKE'S BAY V COUNTIES MANUKAU (L)
MITRE10 CUP
SKY SPORTS ARENA

10:45AM
SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND (R-2007)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

12PM
TOULOUSE V ULSTER (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA ONE
BT SPORT 3
CHANNEL 4 (12:15PM)

2:45PM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

2:45PM
LEICESTER TIGERS V CASTRES (L)
CHALLENGE CUP
BT SPORT 3

5PM
REDS V BRUMBIES (H-2014)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS ARENA

5:15PM
EXETER CHIEFS V NORTHAMPTON (L)
CHAMPIONS CUP
BT SPORT 3

6:55PM
LEINSTER V ULSTER (R-2012)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

9PM
TOULOUSE V ULSTER (R)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

11PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21

7AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

10AM
TOULOUSE V ULSTER (R)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

1PM
BRUBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

5PM
SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND (R-2007)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

6:30PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 1

7PM-
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS (2020)
7PM - CLÉRMONT V RACING
8PM - EXETER V NORTHAMPTON
9PM - LEINSTER V SARACENS
10PM - TOULOUSE V ULSTER
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

7:30PM
SALE SHARKS V HARLEQUINS (L)
PREMIERSHIP RUGBY CUP
BT SPORT 1

11PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
VIRGIN MEDIA ONE

TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

7AM
THE TEAM THAT TURNED UP
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 1

8AM
CRUSADERS V HURRICANES (H-2014)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS ARENA

1PM
REDS V BRUMBIES (H-2014)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS ARENA

1PM
SALE SHARKS V HARLEQUINS (R)
PREMIERSHIP RUGBY CUP
BT SPORT 2

2PM
BLUES V JAGUARES (H-2018)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS
SKY SPORTS ARENA

3PM
TOULOUSE V ULSTER (H)
CHAMPIONS CUP
VIRGIN MEDIA SPORT

5:15PM
BATH V GLOUCESTER (L)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 1

7PM
MUNSTER V CONNACHT (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

7:45PM
CHAMPIONS CUP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 1

9PM
PRO14 HIGHLIGHTS
FREESPORTS

9PM
ZEBRE V BENETTON (R)
PRO 14
EIR SPORT 2

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 23

6AM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 2

7:30AM
BATH V GLOUCESTER (R)
PREMIERSHIP
BT SPORT 2

9AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

11AM
THE TEAM THAT TURNED UP
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 

1PM
SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND (R-2007)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 2

2PM
SOUTH AFRICA V ENGLAND (R-2007)
CLASSIC RUGBY WORLD CUP
EIR SPORT 1

THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 24

6:30AM
THOMOND PARK
DOCUMENTARY
EIR SPORT 2

8AM
BLUES V JAGUARES (H-2018)
SUPER RUGBY CLASSICS 
SKY SPORTS ARENA

10:45AM
BRUMBIES V REDS (R)
SUPER RUGBY AU FINAL
SKY SPORTS ARENA

10PM
PREMIERSHIP HIGHLIGHTS
BT SPORT 3

********************

L = LIVE
R = FULL REPEAT
T = TAPE DELAY
H = HIGHLIGHTS

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