Saturday, February 28, 2015

Preview : Ireland v England

 

Chess and rugby union aren't two pastimes you'd compare too often but this test match is definitely an exception to that rule.

My recurring message about Ireland's overall 2015 campaign is that we need to be able to not only accept the favourites tag, but also be proud of it.  That's the final piece of the puzzle which has led teams to greatness in several sports and this Irish setup definitely has the coaching and the talent pool to make that extra step.  And with no disrespect meant to the Italians or the French, Sunday will see our first big test of where we are in this calendar year.

Both Joe Schmidt & Stuart Lancaster have such rigid structures for their squads that there won't be a single moment when accuracy won't be required, by the officials every bit as much as the players.  Get ready to live for an hour and a half on the edge of your seats, folks...and don't expect to have many nails left by the end.

I can't find too much wrong with Joe's selections.  We all speculated over what he'd do to fill the void left by BOD - he has gone with Payne & Henshaw and this will be their third outing together in a row, with several weeks at Carton House knowing they'd be playing together as well.  If all they do on Sunday is cancel out the very real threats of their opposite numbers then I will consider it a job well done.

The biggest worry I have is that we won't score early enough.  Maybe against the All Blacks and Wallabies our early leads got clawed back but I liken Lancaster's England to a coiled spring which always has a seven pointer in them given half a chance so while we managed ok without first half tries in our opening two matches, simply containing them for the opening 40 minutes may not be enough this time.

Joe tends to play a bit more cautiously at test level than he did at Leinster, which is understandable as possession and territory are at much more of a premium, but while the English D will be disciplined and tough to break down I think we need to really put it to them in the opening quarter.

Basically I suppose what I'm saying is that I'd like us to blow them out of the water in the first half so my nerves won't be shot by full time!  Very wishful thinking, I know.

Still...what I do know is that while the two sides are very similar in organisation, pound-for-pound Ireland have the edge in both talent and experience, particularly at halfback, and all I'm saying is that we need to do all we can to make that count from the get-go.

I can't even begin to speculate on how the two packs will match up.  Jamie Heaslip of course will be missed but I reckon Joe has made the right call in drafting in Jordi Murphy...think that's because he's  Leinster man all you want but I honestly believe the most "like-for-like" call was the way to go.  We might see less ball carrying from Sean O'Brien than we'd like but to be honest, a bit like our centres, I'd be more concerned about how our back row squares up to theirs.

Naturally set-pieces are also going to be factor, and as we all know this fixture has some history in the front row area.  I can only imagine that when the first scrum is called every Irish fan will hold their breath and won't exhale until it's over so hopefully there won't be a lot of resets!  Fingers crossed we won't get on the wrong side of Craig Joubert though he does have a reputation for being a "homer".

As for my prediction I'm going for an Irish win by 3 points, but not without a whole lot of twists and turns.  See you on the other side...

#COYBIG #ShoulderToShoulder #JLP #TrustJoe 

ENGLAND : 15. Alex Goode 14. Anthony Watson 13. Jonathan Joseph 12. Luther Burrell 11. Jack Nowell 10. George Ford 9. Ben Youngs
1. Joe Marler 2. Dylan Hartley 3. Dan Cole 4. David Attwood 5. George Kruis 6. James Haskell 7. Chris Robshaw > captain 8. Billy Vunipola
Replacements 16. Tom Youngs 17. Mako Vunipola 18. Henry Thomas 19. Nick Easter 20. Tom Croft 21. Richard Wigglesworth 22. Danny Cipriani 23. Billy Twelvetrees

RBS Six Nations - Round 3
Sunday, March 1, 2015
At Aviva Stadium, 3pm. Live on RTE2
Referee: Craig Joubert (SARU)
Assistant Referees: Jérôme Garcès (FFR) Mathieu Raynal (FFR)
TMO: Deon von Blommestein (SARU)

 

Front Five - 28.02.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

Later today on HarpinOnRugby...
our Ireland v England preview
and we publish our Emerald Rugby competition grid

IMG_1598
The game finished 11-8 and we will take a repeat of that on Sunday, please and thanks.

Irish Women Start The Weekend Off Perfectly With Win Over England

Hal LaRoux - Balls.ie

Ireland's Grand Slam hopes are dashed and while the championship remains a realistic goal, lessons must be learned from last night's display.

Clinical England punish Ireland

Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

Lacey adjudged replacement adjudged home replacement No.8 Morgan Allen not to have released Strauss in the tackle after the ball had gone forward.
Gareth Griffiths - WalesOnline

(Munster) have won their last seven matches in Cork.
Jonny Watterson - Irish Times

"Brian O'Driscoll actually did give a halftime team talk!" - Martin Bayfield

All Star touch rugby pitted BOD against Vunipola on Rugby Tonight

Rugby Onslaught

Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP
Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Friday, February 27, 2015

Preview : Ospreys v Leinster

 

"The Ospreys face an in-form Leinster, who have won three of their last four fixtures in the league." 

Gareth Griffiths, WalesOnline yesterday

Ask me to name Leinster's worst performance since HarpinOnRugby came into existence and I'll go for our visit to the Liberty Stadium in November, 2012 under Joe Schmidt.

Many fans of the boys in blue would take issue with that, I'm sure, particularly on the back of two extremely below-par displays at home against teams in the lower half of the Pro12.  

But what made that particular defeat to the Ospreys stand out for me was that it was so unexpected, especially since we did so well in the first quarter to build a 10-0 lead only to appear to go out of our way to hand the initiative back to those pesky birds.

Well I have to offer my apologies in advance for a large dose of pessimism, but this time around as the lads head to Swansea, my expectation levels are as low as they have ever been going into a Leinster match.

Normally I try to be positive, normally I try to dig out a silver-lining, but on this occasion I gave one of my biggest ever "LOLs" when I saw what Graham Griffiths had to say in his preview.

Now...it IS worth noting that the Ospreys are hardly on sparkling form themselves.  In the space of two rounds they went from top of the league to fifth on the back of defeats to both Scottish clubs.

But every Leinster fan  will know they have the ability to raise their game to play us, at least when it comes in this competition.  Of all the Welsh regions they definitely have the biggest sense of pride when it comes to playing for the jersey and nothing brings that out more than the visit of 3-times European champions.  The likes of Hanno Dirksen, Joe Bearman and Dan Baker have all performed well against us before.

And on top of that, we have the reality of Leinster's form, which couldn't be more opposite than that laid out by Griffiths.  Whether he's trying to raise expectations of his opposition or whether it was just lazy journalism on his part we'll never know...but the evidence from our last two matches suggests that for all the experience in our lineup, there just doesn't seem to be the necessary glue holding them together.

Right the heart of my pessimism are two key combinations....at halfback and centre.  Isaac Boss takes the captain's armband tonight and it is imperative that he and Jimmy Gopperth are on the same page if we are to make any kind of headway against what is bound to be a stubborn home D.  But even if they do tee things up well, we'll need Messrs D'Arcy & Te'o to have a much better understanding than they did last Friday otherwise we won't get the maximum out of our extremely talented back three.

On the positive side of things if you look hard enough you will find something ;-)  I thought our scrum has done well over the past two weeks so there's a chance we can establish a decent platform tonight though there isn't a whole lot of front row experience in reserve.  Then there's the return of Rhys Ruddock to a young backrow which has the ever-eager Dominic Ryan ready to spring from the bench.  We could conceivably match our hosts in the forwards, and for the most part our D should be strong...it's just the area of creating try-scoring chances where I fear we'll struggle.

So as you can see, I'm not holding out much hope, and that is an extremely rare happening in HoR previews.  The bookies have a 2-point win for the home side...I say we'll be lucky to get a losing bonus and my prediction is for an 8-10 defeat.  Sorry!

Now all the boys have to do is go out and prove me totally wrong.  And noone will be happier than me if that's the case.

#COYBIB JLP

OSPREYS : 15 Dan Evans 14 Tom Grabham 13 Jonathan Spratt 12 Josh Matavesi 11 Hanno Dirksen 10 Sam Davies 9 Martin Roberts
1 Ryan Bevington 2 Scott Otten 3 Dmitri Arhip 4 Tevita Cavubati 5 Tyler Ardron>(Capt) 6 Joe Bearman 7 James King 8 Dan Baker
REPLACEMENTS : 16 Matthew Dwyer 17 Marc Thomas 18 Daniel Suter 19 Rhodri Hughes 20 Olly Cracknell 21 Morgan Allen 22 Tom Habberfield 23 Richard Fussell

Guinness Pro 12 - Round 16
At Liberty Stadium, 7.35pm. Live on BBC Wales/TG4 
Referee: John Lacey (IRFU, 42nd competition game)
Assistant Referees: Craig Evans, Chris Williams (both WRU)
Citing Commissioner: Gwyn Bowden (WRU)
TMO: Derek Bevan (WRU)

Front Five - 27.02.15

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.

Later on a busy day here at HoR Manor...
Ireland team is announced
Our Ospreys v Leinster preview
Your last chance to enter our Emerald Rugby competition

 

IMG_1598

 
Whether Healy’s 37 minutes for Leinster against Zebre last Friday...is sufficient game time to replace Jack McGrath...after being sidelined since September seems unlikely.
 

Jordi Murphy to step up for Ireland as Joe Schmidt gets ready to go again

Gerry Thornley - Irish Times
 
 

 
“I suppose as players the thing is - how do you keep yourselves motivated, how do you keep yourselves switched on?
 

Sophie Spence: Ireland always gear themselves up for England

 
Grainne McGuinness - Irish Examiner
 

 
England arrive in the capital as world champions but Ireland captain Nick McCarthy doesn't fear them in the slightest.
 
 
Cian Treacy - Irish Independent
 

 
If you are looking to watch all 48 matches of this year's Rugby World Cup, TV3 have your back.
 
 
Patrick McCarry - SportsJOE.ie
 

 
"Masochist, you know, when they tie you up and all..."
 

Rugby Term Or Sex Act?

 
Balls.ie
 

 
Feel free to share any interesting links you spot yourself about t’internet by email, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, blog comment or carrier pigeon – whatever works for you. JLP
 
Note - views expressed in "Front Five" links do not necessarily reflect those of HarpinOnRugby

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Rugby on TV : Feb 26-Mar 5

 
Hi there...we don't often editorialize this weekly HoR feature but even though there's an embarrassment of riches ahead on the quality rugby front this weekend, if you'd like to whet your appetite this Thursday evening we have a recommendation for you.
 
We suggest you head on over to the RTÉ player via this link and watch (or even re-watch) the recent U20 international between Nigel Carolan's Ireland and France.  
 
Some scintillating play by the Wolfpuppies, in particular by the backline which is made up from multiple provinces and definitely bodes well for the future of the game on these shores.  And for all that has been said about the supposed lack of long-term development in the French game, the visitors had several bright spots as well.
 
Just putting that out there for tonight...as you can see from the table below, there's plenty to keep you occupied from tomorrow.  Enjoy. JLP
 
DateTimeShowCompetitionChannel
Thu Feb 267:30pmLEEDS RHINOS V HUDDERSFIELD GIANTSSUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 3
 10:00pmRUGBY TONIGHT EXTRA BT SPORT 2
Fri Feb 276:30amHIGHLANDERS V REDSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 1
 10:55amWESTERN FORCE V HURRICANESSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 3
 5:05pmCHEETAHS V BLUESSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 4
 7:00pmIRELAND U20 V ENGLAND U20SIX NATIONSRTE2 / SKY SPORTS 3
 7:00pmNORTHAMPTON SAINTS V HARLEQUINSPREMIERSHIPBT SPORT 2
 7:10pmOSPREYS V LEINSTERPRO 12TG4 / BBC 2 WALES
 7:30pmIRELAND WOMEN V ENGLAND WOMENSIX NATIONSwww.IrishRugby.ie
 7:30pmULSTER V SCARLETSPRO 12BBC 2 NI
 7:30pmST HELENS V CASTLEFORD TIGERSSUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 1
 9:00pmRUGBY CLUB SKY SPORTS 3
Sat Feb 286:35amCHIEFS V CRUSADERSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 4
 8:30amMELBOURNE REBELS V BRUMBIESSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 3
 1:00pmBULLS V SHARKSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 3 RED BUTTON
 1:30pmFRANCE V WALES (REPEAT)SIX NATIONS 1999BBC 2 WALES
 1:55pmCATALAN DRAGONS V WIGAN WARRIORSSUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 3
 2:00pmSCOTLAND V ITALYSIX NATIONSRTE2 / BBC 1
 3:00pmEXETER CHIEFS V BATHPREMIERSHIPBT SPORT 1
 4:30pmFRANCE V WALESSIX NATIONSRTE 2 / BBC 1
 5:05pmLIONS V STORMERSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 3
 7:15pmMUNSTER V GLASGOW WARRIORSPRO 12SKY SPORTS 3
 7:30pmFRANCE U20 V WALES U20SIX NATIONSS4C
 10:50pmRUGBAÍ BEO TG4
Sun Mar 112:25pmCARDIFF BLUES V EDINBURGHPRO 12S4C
 2:00pmIRELAND V ENGLANDSIX NATIONSRTE 2 / BBC 1
 5:05pmCONNACHT V BENETTON TREVISOPRO 12TG4
 6:05pmSIX NATIONS SPECIAL BBC 2 WALES
 6:45pmHIGHLIGHTSPRO 12SETANTA IRELAND
 8:00pmTRY TIMESUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 3
 8:30pmHIGHLIGHTSTOP 14SKY SPORTS 3
Mon Mar 27:00pmAGAINST THE HEAD RTE 2
 8:00pmRUGBY TONIGHT BT SPORT 2
 9:45pmHIGHLIGHTSPRO 12SETANTA IRELAND
 10:45pmHIGHLIGHTSPREMIERSHIPSETANTA IRELAND
Tue Mar 33:55pmCLONGOWES WOOD V BELVEDERELEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUPSETANTA IRELAND
 8:00pmCLONGOWES WOOD V BELVEDERELEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUPSETANTA IRELAND
Wed Mar 43:55pmROSCREA V NEWBRIDGELEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUPSETANTA IRELAND
 8:00pmROSCREA V NEWBRIDGE (REPEAT)LEINSTER SCHOOLS SENIOR CUPSETANTA IRELAND
 10:00pmRUGBY AMNRLSETANTA 1
 10:00pmBOOTS 'N ALLSUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 3
Thu Mar 59:00amBRONCOS V RABBITOHSNRL 2015SETANTA 1
 8:00pmHULL FC V LEEDS RHINOSSUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 3
 8:30pmRUGBY TONIGHT EXTRA BT SPORT 1
 
Times generally refer to beginning of broadcast not kickoff
Check local listings for repeat showings
Feel free to let us know if something is missing! paganoblog@gmail.com

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