Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Top 10 rugby games this season


You can't follow sports without ranking things.  Conversations down the pub about the best players of all time are commonplace.  

This in turn leads to official lists of the best the sport has to offer.  World Rugby offer a ranking of the top test teams on the planet.  Media sources like ESPN give you the chance to sort the teams and players in statistical categories.  Even leading bookmaker sites like the Ireland Rugby Betting Guide provide Irish punters with all the tips and advice they need to make money from real money wagers on this sport.

With this in mind we have put together our own top ten rugby matches from the season so far here at HarpinOnRugby, based on the amount of clicks by you, are loyal readers.  No doubt this list will change as we get closer to the business end of the season, and hopefully they will continue to feature wins for both Leinster and Ireland!!! JLP

#10

‘DEFINING MOMENTS’
Monday, October 23, 2017

“Hang on...as the clock says 41:30, we're kicking for touch???  Ah here - I know we're allowed to take the lineout with recent tweaks to the Laws, but this match is so evenly poised that we're taking an awful risk of coming away with nothing from this chance...besides that - have they forgotten about our dodgy darts this season?”

First on our top ten list is this writeup from Leinster’s second match of the 2017/18 Rugby Champions’ Cup pool campaign.  Not even the most dyed in the wool fan would have expected this result from Scotstoun to give us maximum points from our opening matches, and a try that stretched the pre-halftime clock to its limits put us on the road to clinching it.

#9 

“SUNDAY APPETIZER”
Monday, January 15, 2018


“Anyone who saw Jordan Larmour over the Christmas period knows how he can punish a poorly executed clearance kick so when one fell into his arms the RDS crowd got excited and he didn't disappoint.” 

The match was only last Sunday yet it has actually cracked the top ten and will no doubt go higher.  It was an annoying kickoff time, Leinster's dominance was pretty much expected given how Glasgow had the Pro14 and Six Nations as priorities, but there was more than enough on which to harp with eleven tries in total.

#8

“HEADS UP RUGBY”
Monday, December 18, 2017

“...once you ignore the commentary and accept that the poor calls...and mistakes were pretty much even, you can see this match for what it was - an absolutely absorbing tactical battle that laid out for all to see what quality coaching these two great squads have behind them.”

As an actual game of rugby this would be much higher up the list but I guess other writeups impressed you more...after a shaky start Leinster pegged the English champions back to keep our 100% European record intact.


#7

“JOIN THE ROAR”
Monday, April 03, 2017

“Wherever Matt O'Connor buried our offloading game at the UCD training base, Leo Cullen, Stuart Lancaster & co not only dug it up but they also traded it in for an upgrade.”

Twice in 2017 Leinster welcomed the Premiership leaders to the Aviva Stadium, and twice we sent them packing. This was the more comprehensive of the two victories and it was probably mostly responsible for the confidence I had going into the Clérmont semifinal.

#6 

“UN-PHASED”
Monday, December 11, 2017

“Of course we'll never know for sure what was said under those goalposts as Gareth Steenson was missing the conversion, but what followed was an absolute masterclass in professional rugby tactics and execution.  To put it in its most simplest terms, we first beat them at our game, then we beat them at their own.”

Went into this one hoping for a losing bonus point, came out of it wondering if we could have gotten the four tries.  Arguably the most fascinating and satisfying back-to-back series Leinster have ever had and both matches were a pleasure to write up.

#5

“STRANGER THINGS”
Monday, October 30, 2017
“Cool as you like he sets off letting go a pass to Adam Byrne in support at just the right moment and stays with his winger to get it back. Then even cooler as you like he throws a cheeky dummy to take another Ulsterman out of the equation before shipping it to Luke McGrath who makes a beeline for the corner.”

We’re getting closer to the number one slot, and kicking off the top five is this Hallowe’en offering about our trip to Belfast. Of all the elements to match writeups I enjoy, describing quality tries has to be the most satisfying, and Sean O’Brien’s involvement in this decisive one was particularly special.

#4

“BOOKENDS”
Monday, March 20, 2017

“We were also strong on defence. We were also being strategic with our ‘dark arts’...tug of a jersey here, holding a player down there, a bit of extra force in clearing out, etc, etc. And they didn’t like it. When you have Dylan Hartley whinging to the ref in detail about particular things his opponents are up to, you know you’re getting to them.”

Our Six Nations campaign began with bitter disappointment at Murrayfield, yet at least it ended on a positive note as we halted a potentially-record-breaking winning streak for the second time that season, not to mention denying the English another Slam in the process.

#3

“XIII”
Monday, November 20, 2017

“What I'm looking for most of all from a Joe Schmidt XV is a strong defensive outing, particularly from positions 10, 12 and most importantly, 13. There's an element of risk over reward in the strategy of spotting where the opposition are going and jumping out quickly to shut it down, and we got much reward last week against a team ranked higher than Fiji and held them to just three points.”

We’ve been getting a bit like Sesame Street here at Harpin Manor in recent times, with a two of our top three 2017 writeups brought to you by the number 13 and the letter L respectively. [I know I’m totally showing my age with that reference but I don’t care 😝] I guess I find the writeups easier when I can use a theme to tie the 80 minutes together...besides, I’m assuming the vast majority of readers also saw the match in question so a run-of-the mill newspaper-style report would be a waste of time.

#2

“...FIGHT LIKE 'L'”
Thursday, December 28, 2017

“You know what happened next but I'll describe it anyway. Multiple red jerseys left in Lamour's wake and although perhaps he should have used one of the three players in support as Simon Zebo was bearing down on him, his determination eventually got it down for a sensational match- and bonus-securing try just when Leinster needed something special.”

Perhaps with a couple of extra days in the year this could have been number 1 but time and tide wait for no blogger...second spot it is for this account of what happened in Limerick on St Stephen's Day.

#1

“BOKS KICKING”
Monday, November 13, 2017
“As the visitors fed an attacking scrum outside our 22, the clock read 79:26. Surely the only score that could possibly result from this situation would be a consolation try for them? Instead, much like that thwarted move back in the first minute, this one in the last went nowhere and suddenly we were on the attack yet again.


With five seconds left in regular time, Joey Carbery, on for Sexton at outhalf despite not having played there for Leinster all season, sent a crossfield kick into an area for sub winger Darren Sweetnam to chase and somehow the former Cork hurler managed to gather and not only keep it in play, but also hold up would-be jacklers long enough for support to arrive.

And boy, did it arrive - a ready-made attack formation which swept the ball from one touchline to the other with Conway and Stockdale combining once more for the Ulster youngster to deservedly cross the line and we weren't even done yet - an excellent conversion from out wide by Carbery provided the the caramel drizzle to the cherry to the icing on the cake.”

I think the post was somehow picked up by masochistic rugby fans in South Africa but that hardly matters...this turned out to be not only the most-hit Harpin writeup of the season so far, but also of all time, so this made for the perfect experience for me personally as I enjoyed the reaction to the piece every bit as much as I did writing it and of course watching the match itself.  JLP

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