Monday, April 13, 2009

Harlequins-5 Leinster-6

PHEEEEE-EW!!!!

There’s only one rugby pundit I hate agreeing with more than George Hook, and that’s Sky’s Stu Barnes.

Unfortunately, he was right on the money with his appraisal of Leinster’s lot halfway through this titanic Heineken Cup quarter-final at the Stoop yesterday.

I can only paraphrase but the gist of what he was saying is that we’re too conscious of the “Galacticos” nature of our squad and we tend to go for the conventional option at times when perhaps the situation calls for something special.

What could possibly have proved this more than our second penalty kick, which although it came in the first half proved to be the winner, came on the back of yet another burst of genius from BOD which left him a width of a blade of grass short of the try line.

The reason I agree with Barnes is that, as I’ve stated on this blog before, our backline moves seem to be structured so as to only involve numbers 10, 12 and 13, while our back three can only contribute to the offence by collecting scraps.

The person who suffers most from this in the Leinster squad is Luke Fitzgerald. The boy is wasted out there, and I contend that if we are to bring our offence up to a level that will come near to matching the world class defence yesterday, we’ll need to be more creative in the backline.

I firmly believe that despite last week’s Thomond thrashing we are more than capable of beating of nemises in three weeks’ time.

It’s hard for me to go into too much more detail about the Quins match since with all its drama right to the final whistle it’s all a complete blur in my memory!!!

One thing I do recall is the inexplicable penalty Bernard Jackman gave away right at the death by blatantly coming in from the side of a ruck at his own 22. I let loose a string of every expletive I could think of at the TV screen, each one of them preceded by the word “baldy”. Let’s just say he’s forgiven by now!!!

Also it would be remiss not to praise the home side for their contribution on the day, even if their Director of Rugby Dean Richards was a bit ungracious in his post-match interview. They certainly played their part in a contest whose scoreline looked more like the result of a game of snooker than rugby.

All in all it was a relief to hear Nigel Owens blow that final whistle, and things are gearing up for an historic day for Irish rugby on May 2 which will not only be a Grand Slam celebration party but will also give the whole “rugby at Croke Park” experiment the sendoff it deserves. JLP

Note...this writeup was written before the whole "bloodgate" thing came to light.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Munster-22 Leinster-5


BACK DOWN TO EARTH

This match was so painful to watch I want to keep my report to a bare minimum.

Let’s just say that for the second time this season, the southerners wanted this derby match a hell of a lot more than we did.

But let’s not forget – if Felipe had brought his kicking boots, it would have been a whole different ball game.

Another silver lining was that we can atone for this performance and relegate its status to “blip” by playing as we know we can at The Stoop on Sunday and set up a third chance to get the better of our rivals in the Heineken Cup semis.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Leinster-32 Ulster-6

LeinsterVUlster

THE ROCKY ROAD

Sorry again my report is so late – just not blogging that much these days is my only defence…

So – how could Irish rugby POSSIBLY follow up from the amazing Grand Slam weekend?

By its leading provinces getting back to their old form, that’s how.

And both Leinster AND Munster did just that by making this year’s Meaningless League a two-horse race between its two biggest rivals.

Normally, as you may know, I’m tough on the boys in blue for not going for the bonus point, but going into this encounter I was adamant that given the local derby nature of the contest, a simple four-point haul would have been fine.

But this time the boys had other ideas.  Once they started crossing the Ulster line you could see a determination in Leinster’s play that showed they all appreciate that this season is far from over.

And all credit to the Munster fans after the game at the RDS.  I reckon they have a legitimate beef about the referee’s timekeeping, or should I say lack of it, that led us to crossing for the extra point right at the death.

If there was anything negative to be taken from this game, it was from the post-match interview with man-of-the-match Rocky Elsom.  Clearly he has made up his mind that this is to be his one and only season for Leinster Rugby.

But now that I’m hearing that the province are being sticklers over releasing him at thend of the campaign, I can only hope this doesn’t affect his attitude for the much bigger fixtures to come, none less than the mouth-watering top-of-the-table clash at Thomond Park on Saturday night.

Here’s hoping they can sort it out.  I’m greedy for more Irish rugby success this term.

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