Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Regional rivalries take centre stage

It’s derby time in all the Pro-12 nations, Liam Sinclair looks at the Non-Irish ones…

non Irish Pro12

Another desperate weekend for my charges in European action with Ospreys the only team getting a win (what a scalp to be fair) bringing their total, and ours, to two. With 28 matches played this is a win rate of 7%* Dismal especially as this competition is targeted by the teams in the Pro12 to the detriment of all other facets of their lives. Conspiracy theories anyone? We’re back to the Pro12 now with a fragmented festival program full with derbies. The weekend brings these jewels.

*Google, correct me if I’m wrong.

Cardiff; The massively disappointing Cardiff continued to underwhelm in Europe. In a group with the shocking Sale Sharks they’ve still failed to register a win. All around outlook is pretty glum and the rest of the season looks like an exercise in damage minimisation. Home comforts are cold comforts for the Blues with only one of their four victories coming in front of their own fans.

Scarlets; Flirting dangerously close to monotony with my repetition but, under the circumstances, I’m left with little choice. Here it goes…. Scarlets will be happy to forget about the last two week’s European fixtures coming away, as they did, with only a losing BP for their rigours. At home they are a decent 2nd with every right to be looking upwards. (No harm in a quick look over the shoulder every now and then just so you know where you stand.) Even in defeat Scarlet’s avoid embarrassment and have won BP in all three of their defeats.

The Match; Derby day and the intensity it can bring aside this is not a contender for upset. Scarlets have the quality and form to navigate this fixture. Away win.

Glasgow; The Warriors lost their double header by an aggregate score of 19-15. The glass half full part of me will congratulate them on their low concession; defensive solidity is not a bad habit. The other glass tells another story. Both these fixtures were winnable against an indifferent Castres who shouldn’t have been allowed stumble to second. The general theme of mediocrity aside Glasgow are in a good position (5th and only a point off 4th) in the Pro12 but aren’t in good form. They won 6 in a row but lost their mojo and have been turned over in their last 2 (Only a point above 6th) Need to turn things around if they want to be competing at the end of the season.

Edinburgh; Used the European matches very well. Went in with an average score of 0 and came out having brought that average up to 3. A threefold improvement in attack is a credit to any team and they deserve all the accolades gotten as a result….. *ahem* I devolved to pettiness earlier than expected, probably best to move on. After a ropey start to the season the lads from the Scots capital look like they might be turning things around. Won their last 2 and have dragged themselves to 7th.

The Match; The contrast in form is interesting here. Stark indeed with Edinburgh winning 2 to end a losing streak of 5 and Glasgow doing essentially the opposite. The form team are the away team as well to make things just a little more interesting. I’ll plump for the home team whose try scoring form should be enough to get them the win.

Zebre; What can you say about Zebre that hasn’t already been said. The youngest team in Europe just can’t find form or break their duck. 80 minutes is still beyond them and I don’t see much changing in the near future.

Treviso; A tough group for poor Treviso, they never really stood a chance and the weekend’s result is a credit to them. Tough to turn over at home the work in progress is proceeding apace. Their last match in this competition was a BP win over the Dragons. Being ruthless against your nearest rivals is a good way of getting above the also-rans and will be needed in the festive derby double headers.

The Match; A home match against the other Italian team is a good opportunity for Zebre to get their first win. We’ve been down this road before. Treviso should be able to replicate their performances against Leicester and The Dragons to get the win here.

Ireland- Leinster and Connacht to win. Narrowly.

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

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