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Heineken Cup – Ulster And Leinster Deliver As Connacht And Munster Fall Short

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And to think there are some in this world who want rid of this competition. Once again, the Heineken Cup has delivered on opening weekend, with shock results, huge games and many more reasons why this competition needs to stay alive.

Connacht looked set to provide the first big upset as they took Saracens to the edge and more. Pat Lam wasn’t shy about singling out some refereeing but in all, it was a stellar performance from Connacht that deserves talking about. To come from a disappointing Rabo beginning to holding the team that steam rolled their way to the knockouts tryless after ten minutes was a result, but the final score is of course all that matters. Try scorers Danie Poolman and Kieran Marmion are shining lights for them however and hopefully can help make this more than a “happy to be here” season for Connacht.

Connacht 17 – 23 Saracens

Leinster travelled to their achilles heel of recent years, Ospreys, hoping to start on a high. The Matt O’Connor era has started on unsure footing it has to be said, but more of the same from Saturday’s performance and the Boys In Blue should be on course for the knockouts.

Sean O’Brien and Rob Kearney in particular were back to their reassuring best for the Leinster faithful and the return leg of this fixture should be a feast of rugby now that two consecutive wins has hopefully shaken the Ospreys hoodoo. Massive credit to the Leinster scrum and Martin Moore in particular as the pack collectively barrelled through some early pressure to pick themselves up.

Ospreys 9 – 19 Leinster

Edinburgh Stun Munster While Ulster Hold Off Tigers 

Edinburgh surprised many when they overcame Munster in Murrayfield, with Greig Laidlaw in superb form for the hosts. The Scottish side raced into an early ten point lead thanks to a try by Matt Scott, which was followed by a conversion and penalty by Laidlaw. Edinburgh’s good start  was erased with a penalty from Ian Keatley, followed by a try from Casey Laulala for Munster, with Keatley converting.

A try by Mike Sherry gave Munster the lead for the first time. It didn’t last long however as Laidlaw converted three further penalties in the half to give the Scots the lead at half time. Munster regained the lead in the second half when Keatley fired over two penalties. Edinburgh struck back when Tim Visser’s long surging run got them a well earned try and with Laidlaw in sublime form, the conversion was slotted with ease. A late penalty sealed victory for the Scots.

Edinburgh 29 – 23 Munster

The Tigers started this game brilliantly when Logovi’i Mulipola got their try and this was soon followed by a conversion from Toby Flood. Ulster were soon on the scoreboard when Tommy Bowe touched down and with Paddy Jackson’s conversion the game was all square. Both sides exchanged penalties for the remainder of the half with Leicester leading by 13- 10 at the interval. Leicester could only manage to score a single penalty in the second half however whilst Ulster added several to give them the win in Ravenhill.

A rough but stable performance from Mark Anscombe’s men but tougher games lie ahead.

Ulster 22 – 16 Leicester Tigers

By Niall Hetherington and Colm O’Shea

Image courtesy of Rabodirectpro12.com

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