Sunday, 13 December 2009

Hallelujah for the Heineken

Who says there needs to be a change in the laws of rugby to prevent the faithful supporters watching from the stands from drifting off into a kicking induced slumber?  After this weekend's Heineken Cup Round 3 games I'm sure some critics of the laws will have changed their minds.  And I'm one of them.

OK so I admit that my predictions for this week were a little bit hit and miss, but if I'm honest I didn't mind so much as I was happy to see a great win for Ulster, a hard fought win for Bath and the most ridiculous end to a game I've seen in a long time when Leicester almost clinched two bonus points against Clermont Auvergne.

Winning teams correctly predicted (in bold):

Bath 16-9 Edinburgh
Biarritz 49-13 Newport-Gwent Dragons
Clermont Auvergne 40-30 Leicester
Harlequins 19-29 Sale
Brive 3-36 London Irish
Cardiff Blues 15-9 Toulouse
Northampton 30-18 Treviso
Scarlets 7-32 Leinster
Ulster 23-13 Stade Francais
Viadana 7-62 Ospreys
Glasgow 33-11 Gloucester
Munster 24-23 Perpignan

However my favourite match of the weekend was the Scarlets vs Leinster.  This was a really enjoyable game to watch, especially in the first half where Leinster put on an impressive display of strong, running rugby.  A few eyebrows were raised last week when Michael Cheika rested a raft of key players for the Magners league game against the Dragons (especially as it resulted in Leinster being scorched), however the performance and result against the Scarlets really vindicated his decision and payed dividends with Leinster clinching a bonus point win.

Shaggy Shane crosses for the first try

Leinster wing Isa Nacewa was sensational in the first half, and the stars of Leinster all shone with Kearney, Heaslip, O'Brian, Cullen, Reddan and stand in stand-off Shaun Berne all putting in international standard performances in team that looked strong from 1 to 15.  Leinster were really impressive, playing quickly with precision and giving a masterclass on how to attack the inside shoulder of the flailing Scarlets defence.

The Scarlets will be left wishing they had fired in the first forty minutes as they did after the half time break, but Leinster's strength just didn't allow them to get a foothold.  It's going to be tough for the Scarlets to turn over Leinster at the RDS next weekend to keep their European Cup dreams alive, especially as the defending champions now have the bit between their teeth.

With this cracking game in Wales, a try-fest in France for Biarritz, Clermont Auvergne and London Irish, and with the Ospreys, Sale and Northampton all picking up winning bonus points I don't think anyone can complain that rugby is in danger of becoming boring.

Hmm,  I only scored a 50% success rate with my predictions though.  Better luck next week eh?


  1. Yeah, but the overall quality of the games seemed very good. I saw all of Ulster's win against Stade Français and Munster's comeback against Perpignan.(Some NASTY eye-gouging by Dupuis in the Ulster game-ouch) I would have liked to have seen Cardiff-Toulouse and Leicester turning a blow out win by Cleromont into a close match in the last 12 minutes. Some results defy domestic results, like Biarritz playing well in H-Cup, but the Basques have played really poorly in the Top 14 this season. (Toulouse has been uneven as well)It will be fun to see the return legs this weekend. It will be interesting to see what sanctions will come down on a couple of the Stade Français eye-gougers.(Of the rugby infractions, that one really is the most vile)

  2. I agree Nursedude. The Heineken Cup games last weekend really showcased why the HC is the premier competition in Europe. Most of the games were entertaining and the cream of the northern hemisphere treated us to some top quality rugby. Hopefully we'll get more of the same this weekend - and hopefully I'll get all of my predictions spot on!