Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
GKIPA & GP14!
The Rugby Channel’s penultimate week of action in 2017 saw one undefeated team keep their status, another one lose their’s in the final minute, an underdog explode at home for a crucial upset, and a visiting archrival emerge from hostile territory with a major victory!
If you have a bit of free time on your hands over the next week or so I suggest you subscribe to The Rugby Channel, use our Video On Demand option to watch all four contests from last weekend, then celebrate the coming of the new year by tuning in LIVE for another quartet of sure-to-be thrillers as 2017 draws to a close.
Subscribing to The Rugby Channel will cost you just $7.99 per month or $59.99 for the entire year. For that price you’ll receive a huge amount of rugby from all over the globe and right here at home in the USA, featuring international and domestic content that you can’t get anywhere else.
An annual subscription to The Rugby Channel is also the perfect belated holiday gift for either a loved one who’s into the game or for yourself to ensure that you don’t miss a single minute of the rugby that you most want to see in 2018!
Bristol entered the fixture undefeated in the Greene King IPA Championship while the Cornish Pirates counted themselves as the side that had come closest to knocking them off back in Round 2.
Right from the get-go there wasn’t much doubt about the eventual outcome as Bristol jumped out to a 28 – 0 first half lead. Pirates did fight back with tries either side of the break but the speed and physical superiority of Bristol was too much for them to keep pace with for eighty minutes.
What made this match especially fun to watch were all the amazing five pointers scored by Bristol. From a double chip over the top to a length of the field sprint down the touchline, the home side kept their fans fully entertained from start to finish with top ten highlight reel scores.
Bristol fans can taste their team’s impending return to the Premiership even though there are plenty of matches left on the schedule before they officially clinch promotion. The challenge for the players and coaching staff now is to keep up the intensity each and every week with the shared goal of continuing to improve as they build towards battling the best in the English game come next September.
Glasgow was the lone remaining unbeaten squad in the Guinness PRO14 but Edinburgh was hot coming off some outstanding play in Europe when they clashed at Murrayfield in the first of three meetings to decide who gets their hands on the 1872 Cup.
Glasgow wasted no time in showing who they thought was boss by dotting down and converting within the first two minutes. Edinburgh suffered a huge blow just a few minutes later when their tighthead was sent off for delivering an intentional boot to the head. Edinburgh thus faced the prospect of playing man down for the rest of the match.
Glasgow looked to capitalize but instead they made too many unforced errors and spent more time defending as Edinburgh kept control of the ball for long stretches and dominated territory, and on two occasions took advantage of Glasgow penalties to kick their way back into the contest.
In the fifty-sixth minute Glasgow got over the line from in close and looked to be on the road to victory but Edinburgh responded with a try of their own then continued to play strong defense, snuffing out Glasgow chances whenever required.
At the very end of the second half Edinburgh mauled for the line, got the advantage and somehow easily trotted into the in-goal to clinch an improbable victory.
Playing with fourteen men for seventy-five minutes, Edinburgh relied heavily on their bench to keep up the intensity on the pitch. Technically efficient mauling and repetitive driving into contact while successfully maintaining possession killed time and sapped Glasgow’s energy throughout.
The best part about how close this match was is that subscribers to The Rugby Channel will get to watch these same two go at it again LIVE on Saturday, but this time from Scotstoun Stadium in Glasgow!
Coming into this Galway clash Ulster was cruising along with some solid wins in both Europe and the GP14 while Connacht had struggled to maintain consistency anywhere but the Challenge Cup.
On Saturday night at the Sportsground it was Connacht who gained the early momentum, continually put Ulster under pressure, and eventually notched the big win to keep their hopes of making the playoffs alive.
Connacht are talented but have struggled with the basics so far this season. In this encounter though, it was Ulster who looked inconsistent and a bit off kilter as the men in green ran in six tries and took full advantage of Ulster’s lack of discipline that resulted in overlapping yellow cards.
Ulster did manage a couple of late tries to make the final scoreline a bit more respectable but make no mistake, this was a bonus point blowout by Connacht when they needed it most.
With a full half of the campaign still to be played, Connacht have put themselves right back into the postseason picture sitting on twenty-three points in fifth place in Conference A.
When Munster and Leinster meet it’s generally a given that even though there’s always an edge for the home side you can pretty much throw out the records when predicting who’s going to come out on top.
In their second meeting of the season Leinster comprehensively dominated the first forty minutes, scoring three converted tries and adding a couple of penalties to take a 27 – 5 lead into the interval.
Of course Munster got right back into it in the second forty at Thomond Park, closing the gap to eight points with two tries in the first ten minutes. That’s the way it stayed until a moment of individual brilliance by Leinster’s Jordan Larmour sealed the win for the visitors.
Munster blew a huge opportunity to gain ground on first time losers Glasgow in Conference A while Leinster’s bonus point win nudged them one point closer to Conference B leaders Scarlets.
The Rugby Channel’s last Greene King IPA Championship match of 2017 features fourth place Yorkshire Carnegie travelling to Castle Park to square off against the sixth place Doncaster Knights.
Yorkshire Carnegie have won their last three outings, beating Nottingham, Rotherham, and the Jersey Reds. Doncaster won last time out versus Rotherham. Only three competition points separate the two clubs so there’s plenty to play for in Round 13.
In their first meeting back in Round 3, Yorkshire downed the Knights in a tight one 15 – 9. Prepare to watch a physical and hard-fought match when you tune in on Friday.
Can Glasgow shake off a disheartening loss and return to winning form at home against their fiercest rivals? Or will Edinburgh ride the wave of victory to back-to-back wins over their countrymen? If last week’s encounter is any guide then this battle has all the makings of another classic.
What makes this fixture even more important is a second opportunity to challenge for spots in Scotland’s Six Nations team. It’s one thing to put in good performances against solid opposition, it’s another to outplay the person you are directly competing against to wear the national team jersey. This one will be a treat!
CARDIFF V SCARLETS – Sunday, Dec. 31 at 10:15 AM ET
Cardiff had to hang on late with a man in the sinbin to defeat the Dragons at Rodney Parade last week. That win got them up to twenty-three points and into fourth position in Conference A.
Scarlets needed a try at the death against Ospreys at Parc y Scarlets to continue to lead the way in Conference B with forty-four points. And they also had to do it while playing with one less than the normal fifteen because of a Steff Evans red card.
Cardiff Arms Park will provide an awesome atmosphere for what promises to be a barnburner, you can’t help but enjoy this one!
LEINSTER V CONNACHT – Monday, Jan. 1 at 10:15 AM ET
After Leinster’s dismantling of Munster on the road, it would be easy to pick them to do the same to Connacht at home. The only thing stopping them from doing so will be the passion and talent of a determined Connacht outfit that will be looking to build on their one-sided win over Ulster.
This is the first meeting between these two Irish sides in the 2017/18 campaign but Leinster won 37 – 24 when they last met in April in the 2016/17 season. Will Leinster smash Connacht back to reality at the RDS Arena or will the visitors achieve another shocking upset? Get up early, or stay up late on New Year’s day to find out!
Another weekend, another batch of amazing rugby to watch!
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