Friday, March 04, 2011

Leinster-26 Scarlets-15

Click here for pre-match podcast “Twist and Strauss”

d ryan v scarlets


Since I’ve gone to the trouble of producing over thirty pre-match podcasts this season, I guess once in a while I should compare what happened in the match with what I said in the preview, right?

Well TOTALLY at random (ahem) I have chosen this match to do just that.

First up, there’s my final score prediction, where I said Leinster would win by ten points. Only out by one, go me!

Next, there was my analysis of the Scarlets team, and in particular, George North.  Well, he was on the wing where I was sitting in the first half, and it’s true his team-mates were doing everything they could to get him the ball, but each time he was cancelled out by a strong home defence, particularly David Kearney, who although of much lesser build was more than a match his the 6-foot-4 opposing winger.

As it turned out, the key to the visitor’s demise was out-half Rhys Priestland.  Not only did he miss a few gettable place kicks and a drop goal, but he was guilty of what HAD to be the “worst attempted tackle of the season” which allowed Niall Morris to skip around him with absolutely NO room to spare and get our first try.

On our side of things, I looked at three areas in particular going into this match…Sexton, Devin Toner and our “second-string” back row.

Our international out half controlled the game superbly and even looked to display a kick-to-the-corner ability to match ROG’s, and with the exception of one occasion when he was blocked after telegraphing his intentions, did very well with it.  And of course, six out of six from the kicking tee including the first from the touchline didn’t hurt either.  Let’s just say he more than made up for his bad night at the office in Llanelli last December.

Then, there’s Devin. I gave him a bit of stick in the podcast for not playing with enough aggression.  Well I’m not suggesting for a second he heard my preview, but he did play as though I’m not the only person who has said it.  He was always there in the tackle and impressive going forward with the ball, reaching or passing the gainline almost every time.  Even though he shared the second row with the likes of Leo Cullen, and after the skipper’s alleged injury to a delicate area, Nathan Hines, the youngster stood out.

Finally, though I said in the podcast that although you wouldn't pick any of Friday night’s back row for your ideal starting XV in this Leinster squad, they were immense on Friday.  I tried to impress my son midway through the second half by declaring that Sexton would definitely get Man of the Match, but the adjudicators showed their superior wisdom in awarding it to Dominic Ryan (pic).  He, McLoughlin and Ruddock terrorised the Welshmen throughout the contest.

If I HAD to find a criticism on the night it would be the referee.  We’re reaching a crucial point of the Magners League season and every bonus point counts.  Given all the penalties the Scarlets gave away when we ran at them, I can’t for the life of me work out why it took Andy McPherson as long as 73 minutes to remember he had a yellow card in his pocket.  And since Isaac Boss got our second try soon after, there’d be a strong argument for us getting four had a visitor been deservedly binned earlier.

But I suppose the old “win is a win” adage has to be wheeled out yet again, especially since the rest of our top four rivals also came out on top.  And as for my podcast prediction on that final four, I still stand by it. Munster, Leinster, Ospreys & Ulster, in that order. Why not?

Also this weekend


The date of this post reads Friday, but that’s only because that’s when the Scarlets match was played. I’m doing this write-up Sunday morning, so I should include a mention of Malcolm O’Kelly’s charges getting “assassinated” over in Bedford.  Had to follow the game via twitter and it seemed the tries were flying over the line at the wrong end every few minutes.  Not much to be said about that, except for the fact that the bulk of our REAL “A” squad were playing at the RDS the night before on account of the Six Nations, with O’Kelly’s options so limited he had to play the first half himself!  Given the two competitions involved, I’d have to say I’d much prefer to go out of the British & Irish Cup at the quarterfinal stage if it meant earning four Magners League points.  Big Mal can be proud of his side for being the only Irish province to get out of their qualifying pool.


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