With pre-season in full swing, we saw all the provinces playing home games.
Connacht hammered Wasps with a 41-10 start to the season. Matt Healy as always proved to be a handful with some incisive running, his try showed his pace and power, as he scorched up the wing and carried two Wasps defenders over the try-line to touch down. Craig Ronaldson came on in the 52 minute, took over the captaincy and marked his time on the pitch with a statement of intent, setting up a try and kicking two conversions. Darragh Leader entered the game on the 50th minute and Sean O’Brien played 20 minutes after returning from injury
Leinster took on the Newcastle Falcons in Energia Park. Newcastle were the sharper team running out 35-17 winners but it was a good run out for a number of players. Caelan Doris got a full game under his belt at number 8. James Tracy put in a good 51 minutes of work in the front row. Ross Molony got 40 minutes in the second half Tom Daly found himself taking on the role of out-half after just 17 minutes and produced a good showing, scoring 2 tries.
In the first game at the new Independent Musgrave Park, Munster edged out London Irish 32-28. Darren Sweetnam was in scintillating form in his 60 minute showing, finishing with a try, which showcased all his skill & pace. Dan Goggin produced a composed 72 mins, where he had a part to play in Sweetnam’s try and finished his own. Fineen Wycherley & Darren O’Sheaformed a strong pairing in the 2ndrow until half- time. Finally Brian Scott showed well for 65 mins and scored a clever try when he realised the ball was out of the ruck before anyone else could react.
Ulster lost their opening friendly of the season to Gloucester, going down 29-17 to Gloucester. However it was good to see Nick Timoney, continuing on where he left off last season with an industrious performance and a try. Marty Moore came on at half-time for his first Ulster appearance. This was followed by Greg Jones joining the fray on the 64th minute.
Jerry Sexton & Jersey Reds demolished Old Elthamians 35-7, as always Jerry produced another consistent performance.
Dave Johnston has settled in well at Ealing Trailfinders and was involved at fullback in their 45-21 win over BlackHeath. Peter Lydon was also involved in the win, coming on in the 2nd half.
Doncaster Knights had an impressive 47-21 win over Sale FC and Willie Ryan was to the fore playing at Number 8.
It was a tough day at the office for Bedford Blues at they lost 57-15 to a strong Wasps side. Bedford Blues featured Mark Flanagan who started in the second row and Tadgh McElroywho came off the bench.
Away from rugby Darragh Maloney was in lead commentary position for the All Ireland Camogie Semi-finals.