Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Scarlets to continue leading the way

We’re not happy here at HoR covering just the Irish provinces in the RaboPro12, so throughout the season Liam Sinclair will keep an eye on the rest of the league for us.

non Irish Pro12

Well I won’t waste too much time gloating over last weekend’s clean sweep, quick mention should do; 6/6. Delighted with myself and hoping to keep up the good work.

I’ve once again used my rudimentary editing skills to show how I’m doing overall. The Pro12 table (left) and my table (on the right) still resemble each other enough to satisfy my pride.

image

That’s that so and you’re only as good as your last set of sporting predictions; let’s get on with having a look at how our nearest rugby neighbours are doing. With a Welsh derby as the Non-Irish Pro12 highlight.

Ospreys v Glasgow

Ospreys: A second defeat for the ‘Spreys is not the start Wales’ most successful province had in mind when they saw the fixture list. The manner of those losses, throwing away a decentish lead versus Ulster and defeat to a club team representing the bridesmaids of Tier 1 European Rugby, will have fans feeling particularly hard done by. That said; BPs were got from both encounters. It might not look like much at the moment but it’s always nice to have something for your troubles and these small things could end up making a difference come squeaky bum time.

Glasgow: The opening of the new Scotstoun stadium did not go to plan. Glasgow would have liked to christen their new home with a win but this Scarlets team don’t look the sentimental kind. The form team at this early stage they’re probably the last team you want showing up when it’s a party you have in mind. Despite the close score The Warriors were never really in the mix and there’s very little they can take from this other than confirmation that they need to take a long hard look at themselves.

The Match: Two top four finishers from last season, the only two non-Zebre teams without a win so far and plenty of questions over the manner of their defeats. Plenty of extra edge in this encounter as if it’s ever needed when Celts clash. Ospreys would be expected to have more of the qualities associated with pressure matches having emerged from Pro12 playoffs with shiny trinkets and relatively recent experience of the sharper end of the Heineken Cup. It’s good enough for me and Glasgow’s mountain is going to be even steeper this time next week. Home win.

Edinburgh v Zebre

Edinburgh: Another group of party poopers, Edinburgh went to Cardiff Arms, found the punch and promptly peed in it. A much needed win after a disappointing opener and Edinburgh are back on track for a strong domestic season. Tim Visser, the key man, seems up for it and he’s a vital cog in a team with strength throughout.

Zebre: I thought it was going to get very boring very quickly writing about Zebre but there were positives to be taken from last weekend’s match. There seems to be a game plan and the players seem to be tuned into it. They kept playing until the final whistle (I know it didn’t work out but points for effort) and there was verve in their infrequent attacks not normally associated with the bottom end of the table.

The match: Despite what I’ve said I’m not expecting miracles. For all the positives Zebre are definitely the whipping boys of this league for the foreseeable future. Get used to hearing this; Away loss for Zebre. Feel like a winning BP is there if Edinburgh want it.

Dragons v Cardiff

Dragons: Away to Leinster is not a great place to go if you want to get some momentum going and a heavy defeat left very few people surprised. They did manage to flex their attacking muscles however with three tries and five points from the first two matches is decent return for the province and leaves them top of the tallest dwarf table ahead of Connacht, Treviso and Zebre.

Cardiff: The loss at home to Edinburgh will have stung. Cardiff have moved back to their spiritual home and this adds urgency to a standard strategy of targeting wins in front of your own fans, maybe even demanding them if one considers oneself a contender and this Blues team does. Is there a better way to recover from a disappointment then to have a derby match to look forward to? None that I know of, lets go.

The Match: Can’t see this being a classic for the ages. Cardiff will be solid in defence and I don’t think The Dragons will have the key. The Blues will grind them down allowing them to build a platform for their attacking players to take the match by a comfortable margin.

The Rest.

Scarlets: Many people, myself included, picked The Scarlets as their dark horse for this season. With a stylish attack as the foundation they’ve proved us right so far, storming to the top of the table and scoring ten tries along the way. Up next is a trip to Connacht, the standard brawn test in the Pro12. They have the scrap in them though and they’ll still be top of the pile next week.

Treviso: There just wasn’t the quality in the Treviso team to ever put it up to Munster in Thomond. There were the usual moments of defensive solidity and honesty of effort but until they can turn more of those moments into turnovers they’re destined for mediocrity. The unexpected victory on day one has them still ahead of schedule so the lads should be in decent spirits. No rest for the weary though and hosting Leinster, another of last year’s playoff contenders (wow, tough start boys), is next on the agenda. Leinster are welcoming back some of the superstars and Treviso won’t have an answer to the urgency. A loss for the Italians.

Ulster v Munster (None of My Business)

Outside my remit but just for the sake of my stats, home advantage will be enough for an Ulster victory.

Liam Sinclair (@liam_bs) – Guesses, generalisations and clichés.

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