Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
The Guinness Pro12 is Underway!
The Guinness Pro12 opened up last weekend by sticking pretty close to the formbook, except for a blowout loss by the defending champions Connacht to last year’s beaten semifinalists Glasgow.
In case you didn’t get a chance to watch The Rugby Channel’s live coverage of three matches from Round 1, here’s a quick explanation of why you should check them out ahead of this week’s fixtures. At the very least, take a look at TRC Report #17 to see host Dallen Stanford’s recap of the highlights.
Leinster’s Man of the Match Joey Carbery started off strongly with a good early try then struck again later in the first half with an exciting 70 meter five pointer.
Benetton played some solid rugby throughout the match despite losing their captain Alessandro Zanni to injury early in the contest. The Lions kept it close and were with striking distance until the seventy-third minute when Leinster mauled their way over to seal the victory.
That Leinster try alone is worth your viewing time as the home side forwards drove steadily in unison for the decisive score.
Leinster will be pleased to have won but disappointed to not get a four try bonus point. Hanging tough against Leinster wasn’t an ideal start to Benetton’s campaign but it could have been far worse and they’ll definitely take positives away from their performance.
If you enjoy quality defense and hard-tackling then Munster is going to be a good team for you to watch this season. The visitors had little ball and territory in the first half but still managed to score two tries to lead by seven at the break.
The individual effort of the match goes to Scarlets scrumhalf Gareth Davies, whose quick tap penalty caught everyone napping and led to his team’s only try of the match.
The second half was lots of kicks and more defense but still entertaining. Munster’s new Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus had to be pleased with the away win but will certainly be looking for improvement in their next outing.
Both the strong rain and serious Munster pressure kept the Scarlets backline from opening up to full throttle but they’ll be ready to give it another go this weekend in Edinburgh.
The oddsmakers didn’t have the defending champions as favorites in this one, despite playing at home, but I doubt that they also foresaw the totally lopsided scoreline that resulted from Glasgow’s repeated assaults on the Connacht tryline.
The Warriors led 13-5 after forty minutes but it was in the second half that they really punished the home side, scoring four unanswered tries. Glasgow looked to be making a statement about their intentions this year, that they will be a tough team to beat and given the necessary ball and space, they will make defenses pay.
The Warriors will be looking to build on the best possible start to their campaign while Connacht have to rebound in a hurry. Fortunately, you’ll be able to watch both of these squads in action, LIVE on The Rugby Channel in Round 2!
MUNSTER V CARDIFF – Friday, September 9 at 2:35pm ET
Both these teams recorded solid wins against decent opposition in Round 1 and will be looking to continue to build early season momentum.
Munster looked good defensively if a bit plodding on attack. Cardiff had a bit of a tussle early on against Edinburgh but were able to open it up on the Scottish visitors in the second half to win 34 – 16 after leading 17-13 at the break.
Of particular interest to American fans, the Blues feature two Eagles in their squad. Blaine Scully started on the wing and Cam Dolan was on the reserves bench last week.
GLASGOW V LEINSTER – Saturday, September 10 at 10:00am ET
Don’t be surprised if this clash ends up being a preview of a postseason match this May as both teams have designs on returning to the winners circle in 2016/17.
Glasgow was definitely the more impressive side in Round 1 as they dismantled defending champions Connacht in Galway. They thoroughly dominated the second forty and seemed at times to be able to score whenever they got the ball into the hands of their explosive backline.
Leinster didn’t struggle for their win against Benetton but they did have to worry about the outcome until late. Now that they’ve shaken off the preseason rust, it’s likely that a more clinical Leinster team will take the pitch in Glasgow.
And speaking of pitches, Scotstoun Stadium will be debuting a state-of-the-art artificial turf system on Saturday. I’ll be curious to hear player reactions after the match as to how the new surface performs.
CONNACHT V OSPREYS – Saturday, September 10 at 2:35pm ET
This fixture promises to be one of the most entertaining of the weekend. Connacht is coming off a horrific loss in their home opener that had fans heading early for the exits and Ospreys pummeled Zebre 59-5 to kick off their campaign.
Which is a better gauge of overall strength, a thrashing by the tournament favorites or a manhandling of the likely cellar dwellers?
Connacht will have to fix the tackling and tactical defensive problems they exhibited last Saturday at the Sportsground and Ospreys will need to see if they can continue to attack in an overwhelming fashion against what promises to be much sterner opposition.
I can’t wait to watch this one!
The best parts of this week’s program are a must watch for fans of both the Rugby Championship and USA Rugby. As usual, there is an outstanding package of the tries from the second round of the battle for southern hemisphere supremacy. Plus, an interesting profile of Eagles prop Eric Fry, who talks about his rugby journey from collegiate All-American to full time professional player. Give it a look.
Moving on from the clubs in Toyota Grassroots Rugby, hosts Richard Mason and former All Blacks lock Ian Jones switch their focus to the provincial action of the smaller unions that are competing in the Mitre 10 Heartland Championship in the show Mainfreight Rugby.
With a format similar to Grassroots, Mainfreight Rugby gives a little history of the competing unions, the towns where the fixtures are played, the trophies on offer, and injects a little bit of local color as various players, coaches, supporters and entertaining characters preview each match before various commentators present extended highlights packages for each round.
This competition is trialling part of World Rugby’s proposed changes to the Laws of the Game, specifically dealing with point value. During this trial a try is now worth 6 points, drops and penalties count for 2 along with conversions, and a penalty try earns 8 with no conversion necessary.
Watch the program to find out who the first 6 point tryscorer in New Zealand rugby history is!
Mainfreight Rugby will be available on the Rugby Channel as part of our Premium content every Wednesday throughout the Heartland campaign.
You need a subscription to The Rugby Channel if you are a rugby fan. Five dollars a month lets you watch rugby from all over the oval globe, from international test matches to domestic club championships.
The Rugby Channel features the Guinness Pro12, the RBS Six Nations, both men’s and women’s USA Eagles tests, the United States vs Maori All Blacks in Chicago, and all the men’s and women’s USA Rugby Emirates Airlines National Championships in 15s and 7s.
Plus you can watch weekly shows like the Dallen Stanford hosted TRC Report, World Rugby TV, Toyota Grassroots Rugby and the new Mainfreight Rugby from New Zealand.
In addition, our Archive can take you back in time to when tries were only worth 5 points with loads of Eagles tests, England home internationals, and Rugby World Cup battles dating back to the start of the quadrennial tourney. If you want to watch rugby, give it a try now!