Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
Pro12 Round 3 Up Next!
The Guinness Pro12 continued last weekend with some exciting, hard-fought contests that produced clarity about early season results and raised serious questions about the direction of certain teams.
If you’d like to see highlights of the three fixtures covered by The Rugby Channel, then watch TRC Report #18 for all the action.
Or you can click on the links below to watch all three matches in their entirety, a choice you are sure to enjoy as each one contains plenty of quality rugby to recommend it.
This one started off close and remained that way throughout the evening. Both sides were extremely physical on defense, and at the breakdown, with full effort on display from both squads.
All five tries were well-worked affairs, especially the game winner from Cardiff fullback Dan Fish, which was started by some outstanding kick return work from replacement Matthew Morgan.
Cardiff seems to have built some real depth and that proved crucial in the second half as an international laden bench was emptied onto the pitch. The introduction of Morgan, Sam Warburton, Rhys Gill, Matthew Rees, Lloyd Williams, Josh Turnbull, and Scott Andrews kept the intensity high and the pressure on Munster right to the very end.
Munster will be disappointed to have lost a close one at home but this loss may be more about Cardiff’s positives than their negatives.
The Men in Red are implementing a new defensive structure and attitude and will be bolstered in the near future by the probable return of Conor Murray and Keith Earls.
I don’t know what coach Gregor Townsend said to his men in the locker room at halftime but whatever it was, it worked.
After a silly Glasgow yellow just before half, Leinster capitalized in the best possible way with two opportunistic, seemingly backbreaking tries before the whistle. The Warriors went from leading by five to trailing by seven in the blink of an eye.
The second half was a different story altogether as Glasgow dotted down two of Tommy Seymour’s four tries in quick succession to close the gap and then take the lead. Glasgow’s recovery and resilience showed me that this is a team with both confidence and heart, a side that obviously deserve their favorites label.
Leinster are a good team that will get better when they are back at full strength in coming weeks as several stars return from injury. An early, close road loss to the likes of Glasgow is not a problem, it’s a chance to self-analyze and close some gaps in their defense.
Plus, it sets up an outstanding rematch at the RDS in the penultimate round of the regular season in April!
The final scoreline in this one is a little misleading as it was anybody’s match up until the 74th minute. There were numerous points throughout the 80 minutes where Connacht had opportunities but just couldn’t convert them into points.
Connacht had one of those years in 2015/2016 where everything went their way. Balls went to hand or bounced the right direction, other sides made crucial errors at exactly the right moment, and in addition to luck, they played with grit, determination, and continuity.
This year they’ve started with two home losses, albeit to the top two teams on the ladder. It is definitely too early for the Galway faithful to panic. Worry yes, panic no.
Coach Pat Lam will attempt to get them back on track in a hurry but whether that translates into them being a repeat playoff contender will be determined by how they respond to this patch of adversity.
After two rounds of play Ospreys find themselves at the top of the Championship Table, having scored a whopping 91 points thus far.
A good portion of that came against Zebre so it’s too early to tell if the Ospreys are indeed for real but early indications are that they will be a formidable opponent going forward.
This week they host Benetton Treviso at the Liberty Stadium before going to Dublin to face Leinster in Round 4, which we’ll have LIVE on the Rugby Channel on September 24th.
This Saturday’s fixture will be our first look at the Dragons on The Rugby Channel. After being easily handled in the opening round by Ulster in Belfast, they rebounded with a win over Zebre at Rodney Parade.
And while the one try, 11 – 6 win over the Italian side was far from convincing, it will definitely have given them a boost of confidence heading into what promises to be a difficult clash against a Munster team smarting from their close defeat by Cardiff.
Head Coach Kingsley Jones knows that a win over Munster is a big ask but he will be wanting his players to focus on the implementation of their gameplan and build on their success at home.
Munster Director of Rugby Rassie Erasmus will have liked much of what he saw from his charges on Friday night in Cork but will no doubt be distressed by the defensive lapses that cost them the victory.
As Munster gets more familiar with his system they promise to become a challenging side to square off against. A Newport Gwent squad that has already shown some offensive difficulties will have to be spot-on in their execution to penetrate what is becoming a better defensive screen each week.
ZEBRE V CONNACHT
Unfortunately we will not be showing this match because the Irish broadcaster TG4 has decided to not carry it after previously committing to doing so.
This episode is packed with multiple cool features. First up is a look at England’s recent success with new coach Eddie Jones at the helm, hard to believe what that team has achieved since their early exit from Rugby World Cup 2015.
Next is a quick look at Rugby World Cup 2019 qualifying which is already underway in Europe, followed by a preview of Japan’s plans for 2019 and what they’ll be doing as hosts of the next quadrennial event.
Then there’s a piece about Gordon Tietjens’ retirement from coaching New Zealand 7s, a very interesting bit where Sir Brian Lochore picks his Top Five RWC players, and the best tries so far from The Rugby Championship.
The second edition of Mainfreight Rugby features more quality matches from New Zealand’s Mitre 10 Heartland Championship.
This week’s show features an appearance by former All Black Zac Guildford for Wairarapa Bush, an 8 point, no kick penalty try, a game-winning 2 point drop goal, and plenty of local color from Westport to Taupo.
Mainfreight Rugby will be available on the Rugby Channel as part of our Premium content every Wednesday throughout the Heartland campaign.
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