Tuesday, October 30, 2018

80-word reviews from weekend Oct 26-28


Quite a task for the Kings, hosting last season's finalists in successive weeks, but they made a really good go of part one.  Multiple YouTube-friendly tries from broken play thanks to the likes of Maxisole Banda kept pushing them ahead but often poor discipline let the second-string Scarlets to peg them back until they took the lead for good although the home side salvaged two MPs and probably deserved more.  Plenty of lessons for Leinster to work on. 


Ulster didn't have things their own way by any stretch and with properly functioning set pieces (four lineouts lost) could have gotten the fiftyburger. Still their impressive backline mix of power from McCloskey and Addison, plus pace from Lowry and Baloucoune was enough to wrap up the bonus point early. The Dragons showed some decent movement at times and might have pinched a try bonus but too many system errors leave Berch's men empty handed on their travels yet again. 

Munster struck early through Cronin after strong contributions from O'Mahony and Earls but by halftime Glasgow had crept ahead after some fine open play led to two from George Horne.  The dominance continued until his brother Peter got the bonus point on 60m but some missed placekicks came back to haunt him as tries from Wooton & Mathewson set up Rory Scannell to pinch it with a long-range wind-assisted penalty at the death.  A rare 4-2 split of match points.  


In the rare regional rugby surroundings  of Bridgend RFC, two early Connacht errors led to pacy Osprey winger Giles stealing in for tries.  Carty pulled back a DG but the teams cancelled each other out for 40m until Morgan dotted down with McCusker on the naughty step.  The Westies pulled level with tries from Aki and Butler but when Carty kicked out on the full, it allowed Allen to set up Evans for a TMO-checked winner at the death.


Hard to fault Cockerill for making 10 changes against Zebre after thrashing 3-time Euro champs the week before, and it looked to be paying off when they led 13-3 at HT.  But Michael Bradley had the better team talk and while his side were defending like a brick wall after the break, they were taking advantagesof concentration lapses to creep ahead and clinch a BP at the death.  Much ground lost by Embra on Conference B rivals. 



For neutrals in the Yokohama crowd this did much to whet the appetite for RWC2019.  But for Michael Cheika it was proof that no matter how he shuffled his backline, they won't match these All Blacks.  In fairness Folau is a decent 13 and they played to their strengths but too many errors and penalties plus Beauden Barrett being 'in the zone' meant the margin never got less than four.  NZL certainly look ready to conquer Europe again in November.


Taken by JLP from RDS press box on Nov 16, 2019