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Rabo Round Up – Munster Crash Back Down To Earth

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Well, that was deflating. Rob Penney went for a raft of changes after Munster’s thrilling defeat of Toulouse but it’s possible he underestimated Glasgow a touch too much. Leinster and Connacht won’t want to remember this weekend anytime soon either, Ulster on the other hand bounced back immensely with a comprehensive, and injury riddled, victory over the latter.

What went wrong for Munster is extremely hard to pinpoint. Player changes for sure, possible fatigue after rapidly soaring through the gears last week and the essential issue, Glasgow Warriors are an exceptionally good Rabo team. They are one of the most consistent teams in the competition and should be treated with respect. I’ll admit to not even affording them this courtesy myself on Friday. But Munster should have been able to cope better than that?

They certainly had the lion’s share of possession and looked more threatening as a team in attack, yet they only paid off on that once with CJ Stander’s try. It has to be said that the loss of JJ Hanrahan seemed to take a lot of their spark away, but the biggest issue was Sean Maitland playing Simon Zebo, and the rest of the backline, off the pitch. Josh Strauss too was a fitting man of the match in his wrecking ball gain line success. Look, a dip in quality with player changes and coming after an extremely successful result is definitely unheard of, but a key issue with the French job was that Munster were porous, and once again this weekend they have been too. It needs to be rectified before Toulon, fast.
Munster 5 – 22 Glasgow

Ulster and Connacht both had more than the usual on the line in this weekend’s inter pro. Ulster were in desperate need of a boost following their Heineken Cup exit while Connacht are still fighting for European qualification. Unfortunately for the western province that dream looks shot after an absolute hammering from the Ulstermen. A hat trick for Andrew Trimble, a brace for Paul Marshall and scores for Tommy Bowe, Luke Marshall and Craig Gilroy saw off Connacht in a serious fashion and their likelihood of top tier European Rugby next season is now in tatters.

Unfortunately there’s little good to say about the performance in green. Aside from a Robbie Henshaw moment of brilliance to set up their sole try, Connacht looked deflated. One would have hoped that the promise of qualification would have dangled a carrot ahead of them to unleash their potential, but instead since that news was confirmed they’ve finished a winning streak and begun a losing one. True enough, they could be real and exciting contenders in the second tier competition next year, but a step backwards it is all the same. Pat Lam can turn it around however, time to do so is the issue.
Ulster 58 – 12 Connacht

Finally along came the Welsh, party poopers extraordinaire. Leinster needed this win badly and it wasn’t forthcoming. Once again the out half situation rumbles on, with Ian Madigan inexplicably left out of the match day squad. Matt O’Connor can’t seem to decide whether the out half is his number one, why in God’s name drop one completely so? Yes there were missed chances, and once more Dan Biggar and Ospreys managed to rattle Leinster as only they can, but Leinster do not look comfortable.

I don’t have knives out for O’Connor just yet, let’s be realistic, he got Leinster to the Heineken Cup knock outs a year after they failed to do so, he got a victory in the Aviva over Munster and crucially, that Northampton away game has to stand for something on his CV. It’s not all doom and gloom. But he still hasn’t got a handle on the team. We all want that fellas’ final year to be as successful as possible, but realistically 14/15 will show more of a competency to Leinster.
Ospreys 25 – 19 Leinster

Image courtesy of munsterrugby.ie

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