What a November is has been & on Saturday Ireland continued to impress. Andrew Conway was on fire with a Man of the Match performance, 3 tries & set up a few more and defensively he added to the Irish game. Garry Ringrose continues to excel in the centre & there were many moments of class from him throughout the game. Unfortunately Darren Sweetnam was withdrawn from the game as he was struggling with a tight back. Rhys Ruddock showed all his worth throughout the game with a relentless work-rate and great leadership skills. Jordi Murphy just adds to the wealth of riches of the Irish back-row with his performances. 2018 was a stellar year for this squad, where many of our guys featured throughout Six Nations, the Summer Tour and November Internationals and they were deserving winners of World Rugby Team of The Year.
Conor O’Shea will be disappointed with his young teams final performance against a classy New Zealand team that were looking for a back-lash after their loss to Ireland. If there is a coach that can build on this it is Conor O’Shea.
Joy Neville was once again the Assistant Referee for the World Cup qualifying game between Canada and Hong Kong.
Leinster showed no signs of missing 20 plus starting players when their young guns obliterated Ospreys, 52-7. Calean Doris looked like a seasoned pro at No 8, full of composure and dynamism. The versatile Noel Reid played the full 80 at 12 and provided some incisive breaks in the midfield. Ross Molony bossed the Leinster lineout & does a huge amount of unseen work to allow others impress. James Tracy provided the squad with some vital experience at the beginning of the game and helped put them on the front foot with powerful set-piece work. After a good 60 minutes work he was replaced by Bryan Byrne who continued on where he left off and even bagged himself a try on the 72nd minute.
In a late call up to the starting team, Bill Johnston slotted in seamlessly, directing and controlling the Munster team and slotting two conversions and a penalty. Fineen Wycherley produced a commanding performance in the Munster pack and got over for Munster’s first try showing great strength and awareness. Darren O’Shea emptied the tank before being replaced for the final 15 minutes. It was great to see Ronan O’Mahony start the game after being out for a spell with injury, there were no signs of rustiness and the quick reactions from O’Mahony gave Munster their third try. It was also exciting to see Conor Oliver return to the action after an injury and he showed his abrasiveness in his 25 minutes on the pitch. The reliable Brian Scott also entered to the fray to add some energy to see out the game.
Connacht got a bonus point win in South Africa and Matt Healy as always to the fore both in attack and defence and provided a try just before the break. Sean O’Brien was in action in the back-row. Darragh Leader came on as fullback in the last quarter to see out the game.
Ulster will be disappointed to lose but this is a squad that is building. Marty Moore provided a wealth of experience in the set-piece and the loose. Nick Timoney worked tirelessly including a try saving tackle before being replaced in the final quarter by Greg Jones.
Ealing Trailfinder’s David Johnston provided the try of the game in Ealing’s 31-19 win over London Scottish. The ever present Willie Ryan was on the flank for Doncaster Knights first Cup defeat. Mark Flanagan and Tadgh McElroy were both involved with Bedford Blues in their disappointing loss to London Irish.