Saturday, April 30, 2016

Front Five - 30.04.16

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

Musgrave Park was rocking and Munster responded appropriately
 
 
Simon Lewis - Irish Examiner

Connacht's historic feat of reaching the semi-finals for the first time deserved something better than this but they can only have themselves to blame.
 
 
John Fallon - Irish Independent

I’m expecting Ulster to pull this out of the bag with something to spare, our underrated front five making the difference in a surprisingly comfortable win.
 
 
John McMurtry - Front Row Union

Connacht’s shock loss in Treviso means that Glasgow now need only draw in Galway next Saturday for a top-two finish and a home semi-final.
 
 
Duncan Smith - The Scotsman

Lacey will referee with compatriot Peter Fitzgibbon and Italy’s Marius Mitrea as assistants.
 
 
Sean Farrell - The42.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

Friday, April 29, 2016

Preview : Ulster v Leinster

ULSvLEIN TA

logo post blueUlster need the win., Leinster need the performance. But if Leinster get the performance, they should get the win.  What will actually happen depends on how that “if” pans out.

Thanks for reading my preview, folks - enjoy the match! JLP

Wait - what?  You think I should harp on some more?  Yeah, I probably should flesh that out a little shouldn't I...though I kind of already did earlier in the week.

On Tuesday I did a post titled “It’s all about the provinces for now” where I said that Irish rugby has to put everything aside, even the forthcoming South African tour, and make every resource available to the provinces, all of whom still have a whole lot to play for.

Both Connacht and Munster play tonight and I wish them both all the best, but on account of tomorrow’s proceedings at the Kingspan, we can’t have four Irish wins this weekend so something will have to give.

Frequent Harpin reader/commenter and avid Ulster fan Ian Frizzell pointed out that I neglected to mention the possibility of the northern province winning this season’s Pro12 title.  And that is definitely a fair cop.  In the article I ran a few possible scenarios that were based on Leinster and Connacht reaching the final in Murrayfield and it was remiss of me to suggest the Ulstermen couldn’t make it, because they most certainly can.

And there is no doubt that this squad they have put out for Saturday is one that is very strong, particularly in the backline.  Basically if there are any holes to be found in the Leinster defence, from Pienaar to Payne this is a group of players who can make the most of it.  But will there be holes in the Leinster defence? 

Well, based on the way this season has gone so far, probably not many.  On several occasions we have conceded just the one try which can be put down to just the one mistake.  If we can replicate this kind of form it’s going to be very difficult for Ulster to put five-pointers on the board.

Then we come to the forwards, and this is definitely an area where Leinster can dominate both in set pieces and the loose.  The return of Iain Henderson to the lineup has certainly been a massive boost for the Ulstermen, but that said there is plenty in the Leinster pack to at least contain him enough to keep damage to a minimum. 

I’m a little disappointed that Ross Molony isn’t involved, but that’s not to take away from Hayden Triggs and especially Mick Kearney in support of Devin Toner at lock - I just thought Ross is as good overall, could possibly be better at pinching lineouts, and most of all adds to the whole #CullensCubs revolution that has gone on at the province this season. Still, the youth element is well served in this lineup with Josh van der Flier starting in the pack plus Luke McGrath (who needs to assert himself among the other more established halfbacks) and Garry Ringrose holding key positions in the backline. 

For me, the “Ben & Garry” centre pairing is our best bet to see out the season, though they will have their work cut out against McCloskey & Marshall.  The debate about whether the dozen in Te’o’s shirt number should be “traditional” or “baker’s” will go on ad infinitum but I’d rather see him used for “Jamie Roberts style” crash ball/decoy options.

And so we have come to the crux of Leinster’s hopes this season.  If our defence can hold its shape and organisation there’s every hope we can limit Ulster to a score in the mid-teens.  The question is, can we generate enough opportunities ourselves to better their total?  Over to you, Messrs Dempsey and Sexton, because with Les Kiss at the helm they’re bound to be decent on the defensive front themselves, as indeed they have been all season.

I said earlier that Ulster’s backline is well capable of punishing mistakes and on paper so is Leinster’s.  But something has definitely been lacking from our play with the ball especially since the Six Nations and if we don’t fix it soon our season could be quickly derailed.

Far be it from me to make too many technical suggestions but I guess what I’m looking for is more in the line of risk-taking, a bit closer to the approach Connacht have shown this season.  Go that extra mile taking it into areas where your opponent is forced to respond...if they do, so be it but if they don’t, be sure and exploit it.

Clearly the bookies don’t think we can do it as they have the home side by 4 points, even though they also have Leinster as favourites to be champions.  Personally I’m going to put faith in us finding enough mojo to get ahead and stay there though only by 2 to 4 points at the end of what should be a thrilling (and no doubt controversial) 80 minutes of interprovincial rugby.

There’s been a lot of talk about coaching in Irish rugby in recent times.  Here’s hoping that superior preparation is what ultimately decides this fixture and not the referee’s interpretations.  But with the “cup final” nature and the two strong defences that could well be the case.  No pressure, Mr Clancy!  JLP (really finished this time!)


Ulster : 15 J Payne 14 A Trimble 13 L Marshall 12 S McCloskey 11 C Gilroy 10 P Jackson 9 R Pienaar

1 C Black 2 R Best 3 R Lutton 4 P Browne 5 F van der Merwe 6 I Henderson 7 C Henry 8 S Reidy

16 R Herring 17 K McCall 18 A Warwick 19 R Diack 20 R Wilson 21 P Marshall 22 S Olding 23 D Cave

Guinness Pro 12 2015/16 Round 21

At Kingspan Stadium, 3pm Live on Sky Sports

Referee: George Clancy (IRFU, 81st competition game)

Assistant Referees: Sean Gallagher, Leo Colgan (both IRFU)

Citing Commissioner: Eddie Walsh (IRFU)

TMO: Seamus Flannery (IRFU)

Front Five - 29.04.16

Start your day with five eye-catching egg-chasing quotes & links from around the ruggersphere.
 
Best of luck to both Munster and Connacht in their big matches tonight
 
 

"(Iain Henderson) is an unbelievable athlete, unbelievably strong. He doesn't even try in the gym and he's racking up PBs (personal bests),"
 
 
Cian Tracey - Irish Independent

...there was little to cheer over the past few days as Foley maintained his dignity in the face of an internal, bloodless coup.
 
 
Johnny Watterson - Irish Times

Pat Lam has brought Jack Carty back into his XV, with the out-half having made his return from spleen surgery in the victory over Munster two weekends ago.
 
 
Murray Kinsella - The42.ie

"The other day I watched on television Leicester play Gloucester and the ground was packed. Then I switched over for the Scarlets and Glasgow: it was another good game but a full stadium makes such a difference." - Dragons head coach Kingsley Jones
 
 
Paul Rees - The Guardian
 
(hat-tip Diarmuid Tempany)

“I do not look at it in that way (Leinster being a bogey team)...We just happen to be the one in the league they continually beat." - Rory Best
 
 
Belfast Newsletter

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, April 28, 2016

Rugby on TV : Apr 28-May 5

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Thu Apr 2810:20amRABBITOHS V TIGERSNRLSETANTA 1
7:30pmWARRINGTON WOLVES V WIGAN WARRIORSSUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 2
8:00pmSTERLO ON THE COUCHNRLSETANTA 1
10:30pmTHE WORLD RUGBY SHOWSKY SPORTS 2
Fri Apr 298:30amCHIEFS V SHARKSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 1
10:20amEELS V BULLDOGSNRLSETANTA 1
12:00pmFORCE V BULLSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 1
6:15pmTREVISO V CONNACHTPRO 12TG4
6:30pmRUGBY TONIGHT EXTRABT SPORT 1
7:00pmSALE SHARKS V GLOUCESTERPREMIERSHIPBT SPORT 1
7:30pmHUDDERSFIELD GIANTS V LEEDS RHINOSSUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 2
7:35pmMUNSTER V EDINBURGHPRO 12TG4
Sat Apr 305:40amPANTHERS V RAIDERSNRLSETANTA 1
8:10amHIGHLANDERS V BRUMBIESSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 5
8:25amROOSTERS V KNIGHTSNRLSETANTA 1
10:30amSEA EAGLES V COWBOYSNRLSETANTA 1
10:35amREDS V CHEETAHSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 5
12:30pmGALWEGIANS V CORK CONSTITUTIONBATEMAN CUP FINALRTE TWO
1:40pmTOULON V TOULOUSETOP 14SKY SPORTS 5
2:15pmCARDIFF BLUES V OSPREYSPRO 12BBC 2 WALES
2:30pmNORTHAMPTON SAINTS V BATHPREMIERSHIPBT SPORT 1
2:55pmULSTER V LEINSTERPRO 12SKY SPORTS 1
2:55pmARMY V NAVYBABCOCK TROPHYSKY SPORTS 2
4:05pmLIONS V HURRICANESSUPER RUGBYSKY RED BUTTON
4:45pmNG DRAGONS V SCARLETSPRO 12S4C
6:15pmSTORMERS V WARATAHSSUPER RUGBYSKY RED BUTTON
10:05pmULSTER V LEINSTER (HIGHLIGHTS)PRO 12TG4
10:35pmJAGUARES V KINGSSUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 5
Sun May 13:00amWARRIORS V DRAGONSNRLSETANTA 1
5:00amTITANS V STORMNRLSETANTA 1
7:00amSHARKS V BRONCOSNRLSETANTA 1
10:07amJOUR DE RUGBYTOP 14TV5MONDE
12:00pmEXETER CHIEFS V WASPSPREMIERSHIPBT SPORT 2
12:45pmBURRY PORT V TAFFS WELLSWALEC BOWL FINALS4C
3:00pmSARACENS V NECASTLE FALCONSPREMIERSHIPBT SPORT 1
3:00pmPENALLTA V BEDLINOGSWALEC PLATE FINALS4C
3:00pmBEDFORD BLUES V BRISTOLCHAMPIONSHIP SFSKY SPORTS 4
3:15pmRACING 92 V CLÉRMONTTOP 14SKY RED BUTTON
5:15pmLLANDOVERY V CARMARTHEN QUINSSWALEC CUP FINALS4C
6:00pmSCRUM V SUNDAYBBC 2 WALES
8:00pmTRY TIMESUPER RUGBYSKY SPORTS 5
Mon May 27:00pmAGAINST THE HEADRTE TWO
8:00pmRUGBY TONIGHTBT SPORT 2
9:30pmMONDAY NIGHT WITH MATTY JOHNSNRLSETANTA 1
10:00pmMUNSTER V EDINBURGH (REPEAT)PRO 12SETANTA IRELAND
11:30pmFULLTIMESUPER LEAGUESKY SPORTS 3
Tue May 31:25pmTHE SUPER LEAGUE SHOWSUPER LEAGUEBBC 2
7:30pmHIGHLIGHTSPRO 12SETANTA IRELAND
8:00pmFULLTIMENRLSETANTA 1
8:30pmHIGHLIGHTSPREMIERSHIPSETANTA IRELAND
9:30pmULSTER V LEINSTER (REPEAT)PRO 12SETANTA IRELAND
Wed May 49:00amSTORM V WARRIORS (REPEAT)NRLSETANTA 1
9:00pmTHE FOOTY SHOWNRLSETANTA 1
Thu May 57:30pmTHE WORLD RUGBY SHOWSKY SPORTS 2
8:00pmSTERLO ON THE COUCHNRLSETANTA 1
9:00pmBACKCHATNRLSETANTA 1
10:30pmRUGBY TONIGHT EXTRABT 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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