Saturday, September 24, 2011

Scarlets-10 Leinster-15



I'm starting to think if I watch any more live rugby this weekend my eyeballs are going to turn egg-shaped! 

(*waits patiently for someone to point out that they probably already ARE egg-shaped*)

Not that I'm complaining, but it does mean that I don't have a hope in hell of watching the Leinster game over again to do my writeup, and what's more I have to resort to getting it done at the ungodly hour of 5:30am before the Ireland v Russia game accompanied by a strong coffee that will no doubt need to be washed down with a Red Bull or six!

I was actually up an hour ago to watch Fiji v Samoa, and judging by the performance (or lack thereof) of the Fijians, it seems Isa Nacewa made absolutely the right call remaining in Dublin while the World Cup was on, for I doubt even his mercurial skills could have helped his adopted countrymen.

Instead he was turning out a man-of-the-match display at Parc y Scarlets that helped Leinster come away with the spoils despite failing to score a try for the second time this season in Wales.

The only thing that takes away from his five-out-of-six haul from the kicking tee was the fact that Ian Keatley managed all six for Munster in Cardiff on Friday night.  But Isa was also up to his usual wizardry with ball in hand as well on the night despite the fact we couldn't finish.

All round we were well in control in both possession and territory and our defence only fell asleep once at the start of the second half which allowed Lee Williams to cross but we were able to quickly get back in our stride and I made it five times the Scarlets were pinged for holding on in the tackle - though they did see a yellow it was not for that and there should have been at least a warning for thwarting our ability to take advantage of turnover ball.

I thought Jordi Murphy was impressive overall at seven though he faded towards the end and no doubt he will develop into yet another handy string to our bow in the back row.

On the downside, there was Devin Toner.  I realise we're struggling for locks at the moment, but as much as I'd want to encourage the giant youngster I'm afraid his role when on the pitch should be limited to catching lineouts for the time being because his errors in all other facets of the game will cost us dear on other occasions.

From a squad management point of view I wonder if Joe Schmidt was looking at the schedule and figuring that despite the fact Aironi won away at Glasgow who of course won away at the RDS last week, he could afford to give as many as 14 of his squad a full 80 minutes in Llanelli with a view to resting some when the Italians arrive in Ballsbridge next Saturday.

But listen...particularly after that defeat to the Warriors which was only made less gut-wrenching by the heroics in Eden Park that morning, I'll take a 5-point margin of victory in Wales any day of the week.  They don't QUITE cancel each other out, but maybe order can be restored with bonus point home wins over Aironi and Connacht the next two weekends?  

Tall order I know given recent results, but I'd like to see us up for it at least. JLP

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