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Pro 12 – Green Glory For Pat Lam’s Connacht

LeinstervConnachtOct13b_large

Well, that was somewhat unexpected. Not entirely, which is good. But once more Connacht have found themselves on the right end of a game that previously would have been a heroic defeat. Not this Connacht, not Pat Lam’s Connacht 2.0. It’s hard to pinpoint what exactly has changed, seeing as how the new wonder signings have, for the most part, not joined the squad yet. But Conancht are growing, and with a lot of homegrown talent still stoking the fires I should add. Wins like last Friday’s over Leinster just keep the train going and they now sit in the top 4 of the table, whilst Leinster lick the wounds of two close defeats.

But of course Leinster and Matt O’Connor need not worry too much, yet. Traditionally the men from the east have taken until their October fixture against Munster to really get into gear and this season, Scarletts aside, looks to be no different. There were of course two line breaks that would have led to tries were it not for two TMO rulings. But there is slight cause for concern in how Leinster seemed to just bow their heads once Connacht ran in their superb try courtesy of Kieran Marmion. That was them down and out for the most part, and that cannot happen as the season progresses. Still, two losses by a single point coupled with an absolute hammering of the Welsh, no need to panic.

For Pat Lam and Connacht, keep going as you mean to boys. Don’t worry about John Muldoon’s yellow card, unlike typical Connacht frustration of old this was down to the absolute shocker of a game John Lacey had reffing both sides. Connacht are making waves, at the right end of the season too, and already they have a great bumper built up for when their strength in depth may let them down come early Jan/Feb. Next week, they take on Glasgow, in Scotland, and a truer test they could not ask for just over a month out from opening their Challenge Cup campaign.

Connacht 10 – 9 Leinster

Munster had a far easier ride than their eastern counterparts as they “welcomed” Zebre to Thomond Park. Simon Zebo had his hat trick in the bag before half time, Paul O’Connell returned to Munster as manic as ever, Johnny Holland and JJ Hanrahan were more than capable of coaxing out a high spirited performance from Munster (though Holland’s early withdrawl through injury was unwelcome) and in general, poor Zebre side or not, Munster did well to grease the wheels a little here.

Zebre, well the Italians are in full regression mode now it seems and the rest of the Pro 12 could be a slaughter for them, save the few games during the Six Nations when they are not nearly as depleted as other sides. Credit due of course that they stuck in the game long enough to snatch a try at the death, and similar to Leinster against Scarletts these last minute scores against high scoring provinces could all prove crucial when it comes to settling the table come the end of the league.

Munster 31 – 5 Zebre

Speaking of tries at the death, probably the sweetest moment for most Irish rugby fans this weekend was Ian Humphreys snatching an intercept with minutes left to plant that last nail in the coffin for Cardiff. With this win Ulster nudged themselves ahead of Munster into the top four on the table and, along with the rest of the unbeaten sides (Connacht, Ospreys,Glasgow) they sit pretty top of the pile. Unfortunately Friday’s win came with a cost, that being Dan Tuohy’s broken arm which will see him miss the rest of the year or thereabouts. A try scorer in all three games so far, his presence is always missed when he is absent from an Ulster squad and the speedier the recovery the better for the Ulstermen.

As for Cardiff, well until Humphries clinched it they were at least if not more than competitive. They are a side shorn of a lot of talent in recent years, but to their credit they are taking it far more in their stride than a lot of sides would. Who knows, they may even be bolstered by a returning Leigh Halfpenny if Toulon stand true to their threat of contract cancellation.

Cardiff 9 – 26 Ulster

Image courtesy of breakingnews.ie

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