Weekend Rugby Review – 16 November

After the atrocities of the weekend the rugby doesn’t really matter and it was obviously the right thing to cancel the games in France. Here is my review of the games that did go ahead.

European Rugby Champions Cup

Leicester Tigers 33 – 20 Stade Francais
Munster 32 – 7 Benetton Treviso
Saracens 32 – 7 Toulouse
Northampton Saints 15 – 11 Scarlets
Leinster 6 – 33 Wasps
Ospreys 25 – 13 Exeter Chiefs

4 from 6, I was perfect until Sunday when I got them both wrong.

Tigers dominated the game as the World Cup lethargy that we saw in France carried over into Stade. Tigers continued their early form and were on top for the game but they were helped by Stade. Stade turned the ball over 20 times and knocked it on a further 8. When you give up the ball that often your are going to struggle but they did take the lead. It wasn’t until the last 5 minutes of the first half that Tigers managed to score but after that they didn’t look back. Even when Stade got a try back in the second half Tigers responded immediately and picked up the TBP. After that the boot saw them home.

Munster dominated the game but Treviso managed to stay in touch for the first half. The second half was one way traffic as the tackles took their toll and discipline was also an issue. Munster regularly picked up points and finally got the TBP with 5 minutes to go.

Saracens dominated the game in the first half and as Toulouse infringed Farrell kicked the points over. A couple of tries were icing on the cake as the game was as good as won by halftime. In the second half Saracens only managed 1 try and they will be disappointed that they didn’t manage to pick up the TBP. Toulouse did pick up a consolation try but that’s always what it was going to be.

Saracens kicked it and Scarlets ran it back. That’s when Saracens weren’t mauling it but that was after they had taken an early lead via a converted try. Scarlets fought their way back into it and were only a point down at halftime. An exchange of tries kept it close through the second half and both sides will be disappointed to miss so many kicks at goal.

A flat Leinster were in the game for the first 20 minutes but after that the Wasps clinical backs put the game away. There is a lot of disappointment on social media about the Irish performance and when you turn the ball over 24 times you’re clearly not being physical enough. The danger of the Wasps backs is evident that they ran the ball about 50 times less than Leinster but made more yards with ball in hand. Often when that’s the case it’s due to the ball being kicked to you but that wasn’t the case here as Wasps were more happy to put boot to ball.

Exeter neer settled into the game and even when they were in touch or leading lacked the calm heads to play their patterns. Ospreys have had a poor start to the season but with players back now look much better disrupting the English side. This should have been more comfortable but Biggar left points out on the pitch as the Chiefs got on the wrong side of the ref. There can be no excuses though as Ospreys put them under pressure and they didn’t cope with it.

European Rugby Challenge Cup

Harlequins 41 – 18 Montpellier
Brive 13 – 9 Newcastle Falcons
Edinburgh 28 – 10 Grenoble
Enisei-STM 14 – 31 Connacht Rugby
Calvisano 9 – 50 Cardiff Blues
Worcester Warriors 19 – 3 La Rochelle
London Irish 48 – 10 Agen
Gloucester Rugby 23 – 10 Zebre
Newport Gwent Dragons 30 – 12 Sale Sharks

8 from 9, I had Sale down as my pick to win the whole thing!

Montpellier actually led for most of the first half as Quins infringed allowing the Frenc to kick themselves into a lead. Only a late Easter try gave Quins a narrow halftime lead. Then in the second half all hell broke lose as the Londoners ran in 4 tries and sealed a comprehensive win.

Brive scored an early try and added a couple of penalties as they let Newcastle play all the rugby. Brive trusted their defence and on the day it was just enough to keep Falcons out as they ran the ball at will but were unable to get over the white wash.

Heavy rain before kickoff put paid to this being a running game of rugby. Edinburgh picked up an early try and eventually when Grenoble lost a player to the bin managed to pick up two late penalties. With both sides struggling to break the defensive line and it was a penalty try from a scrum on the hour mark that put the game to bed. There was further excitement as Grenoble had a player red carded but then went on to score their only try but Edinburgh were able to respond.

Connacht braved freezing temperatures to get the regulation TBP win. It looks closer than it was as Enisei scored all their points in the last ten minutes when Connacht were searching for that all important fourth try.

Cardiff, in warmer weather, also racked up the regulation TBP win over Calvisano racking up 7 trys in a dominant performance.

Warriors continued their early season from with the boot of Lamb racking up 4 penalties in the first half to lead 12-3. With both sides struggling to break the line it wasn’t until the 77th minute that Warriors managed to grab the only try of the game and seal another win.

Agen went ahead through an early penalty goal but after that it was one way traffic. Four tries in the first half wrapped up the TBP and they continued in the second. Two yellow cards late on slowed them down and allowed Argen to get a consolation try.

Gloucester dominated the first half from the off with an early try. They continued to score points through the half and were 23-0 up at the break. In the second half they couldn’t get going and lost a player to a yellow where Zebre took advantage to pick up points. But it wasn’t much of a comeback and Gloucester won without having to score in the second half.

Dragons dominated thee coring in the firsthalf picking up an early try and adding two more late on. Their defence had been able to contain Sale until early in the second half. Sharks scored two quick tries but were held at bay until a late Dragons try won the game.

With 5 games postponed one of the questions is how are they going to fit them in? This season doesn’t have any rest weekends or LV=Cup for the English teams so there aren’t going to be any good solutions.

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