What a weekend it was for the Irish teams in Europe!!!!!
Munster kicked things off with a comprehensive 41-15 defeat of Gloucester. Andrew Conwayagain showed all he was worth in attack and defence. Displayed some individual brilliance with a clever chip and chase but was denied the try because of a forward pass in the lead up. He did get on the scoreboard and secured the bonus point for Munster after he wonderfully chased through on a grubber kick showing both awareness and pace to dot down. Dan Goggincame on with 15 minutes to go and continued from last week, looking threatening in attack and solid in defence, it must have been a tough selection decision not to start him.
Garry Ringrose demonstrated both his leadership qualities and sheer class in Leinster’s 29-13 win over Toulouse. He was rightly awarded the Man of the Match award after a superb performance. Rhys Ruddock went about the game in the most unassuming way, he does so much work off the ball which allows others to shine, he is always looking for work and produced another tireless 80minutes. James Tracy and Andrew Porter came on for the final quarter and added serious impact in the set-piece and loose. James’ first involvement was a huge turnover deep in Leinster’s 22. Similarly Andrew Porter won a penalty at a crucial time. Noel Reid and Ross Molonycame on to see out the game. Noel Reid coolly slotted a difficult conversion with his first touch. Such is the depth of Leinster squad that there bench just add to the game when they come on.
Ulster had a great 26-22 win over favourites Racing 92. Laying down the marker was the performance of the pack, always to the fore was Marty Moore, known for his excellent set-piece work, his work-rate around the pitch has been equally impressive for his 65 minutes on the field. Jordi Muprhy was colossal for 80 minutes, with an impressive 17 tackles. He also made a deciding turnover when the game was in the balance.
Connacht finished off a clean sweep for the Irish provinces with a 20-18 win over Sale Sharks in the Sportsground. Mr consistent Matt Healy was to the fore throughout the game mixing it up, running back at the defence, drawing and passing or clever kicks through. Eoghan Mastersonemptied the tank in both attack and defence before being subbed for the final quarter.
Joy Nevillewas also on duty in Europe as assistant referee for the Champions Cup game between Lyon and Saracens.
In the GreeneKing IPA Championship Bedford Blues defeated Ealing Trailfinders 23-18. Mark Flanagancontinues to be a vital figure in the Bedford second row. Dave Johnston had some outstanding individual moments for Ealing but it wasn’t enough to claw back a win. Jerry Sexton captained Jersey Reds in their impressive 41-16 win over Nottingham
Munster A played Leinster A last Friday in Thomond Park, it was very much a game of two halves with Munster A coming out on top 26-22. Directing things for Munster A was Bill Johnston who also slotted two conversions, including one particularly impressive one from the touchline. Ronan O’Mahony was ever threatening on the wing. Darren O’Shea brought a level of experience and maturity to drive the Munster A pack. Conor Oliver was as dynamic and devastating as ever in the Munster A backrow.
Conor O’Shea was involved in a great panel discussion which was impressively MC’d by Dave MCIntyre at an event organised by DHL Express to celebrate the Rugby World Cup Trophy Tour. Dave MCIntyre was also lead commentator for Virgin Media Sports coverage of the Leinster v Toulouse game.