Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
GP14, APC, WPL, COLLEGE & IP!
As another weekend approaches you have to ask yourself, why would I want to deprive myself of seeing yet another stellar set of fixtures on The Rugby Channel when I can subscribe for less than a single dollar per week and watch them all, either LIVE or with the Video On Demand option?
The answer is that you don’t, because you won’t want to miss even one of the matches on tap this Saturday so subscribe right now and you’ll get the top match from the Guinness PRO14, a collegiate clash between two military academies, the finest young talent in the USA in their APC opener, two of America’s premier men’s club sides doing battle, and a WPL tussle that features perennial title favorites.
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Below is what you missed last weekend, but don’t despair, The Rugby Channel provides a complete archive of all our previous matches so you can go back at any time and catch up on what you didn’t see LIVE!
Leinster rebounded from their shock loss to the Cheetahs in South Africa with a hard-fought win over Edinburgh in Dublin. Although Leinster held a one-point lead at the break and throughout most of the second forty, they didn’t seal the win until the seventy-fourth minute when an attempted clearance kick was badly struck and they pounced on it for a late try.
Last year this would have been considered a poor performance by Leinster to beat Edinburgh by such a tight margin at home but the visitors are playing like a totally different outfit this season under new coach Richard Cockerill. They played solid defense all night long and gave the home team quite a scare at the RDS.
Leinster are still struggling to put all the pieces together and become the juggernaut they were through most of last year’s campaign but they’d better figure it out soon because their next three opponents are Munster at home and Ulster and Glasgow on the road.
The final scoreline in this one didn’t really reflect the general tenor of the match as Cardiff led for most of the first half and well into the second. When they finally fell more than a try behind in the fifty-fifth minute, the air seemed to go out of their sails and they conceded late tries that made the defeat appear worse than it was.
Part of it was that Cardiff seemed a little less aggressive and determined in the second half, possibly because of fitness but more likely the result of an inadequate bench (plus an untimely yellow card by prop Taufa’ao Filise didn’t help!).
A larger part has to be attributed to the fact that Munster is deep and relentless. Seemingly every reserve they brought on had an immediate impact and fit in seamlessly. Getting their Lions back definitely helped buoy the squad after last week’s disappointing performance against Glasgow that resulted in their first loss.
Utah was clearly the better team from start to finish in their non-conference opener against Colorado State in last week’s TRC College Rugby match of the week. There is no lack of talent on the Ute’s squad and they are going to be a team to watch when they get to the Spring and start playing matches that count in their quest for a playoff spot.
Colorado State is a quality program that never could get their game plan going against a superior outfit that kept them in check with solid defense throughout. Sometimes an early non-conference loss is just the thing to send a wake-up call and identify areas for improvement and problems to correct.
Another smashing victory for the Merlins against a high-profile opponent as they thoroughly dominated the men from the New York Athletic Club at Infinity Park. In particular, the performances by backrowers John Quill and Pete Dahl stood out as examples of how to impose your will on a match through controlled aggression in search of and maintenance of possession.
Quill was workmanlike and effective in everything he did on both sides of the ball. Dahl was a man possessed, constantly upsetting NYAC’s attack with steals at the breakdown and being an ever-present link when Glendale needed to go forward.
The Merlins also gave starts to a couple of young wingers, Ryan James and Harley Davidson and both acquitted themselves well on Saturday. The combination of older, established veteran forwards and sprightly backline youngsters is a good one for any team and the Merlins seem to have both in abundance.
The Merlins improved to 4-0 in the Women’s Premier League and are the only undefeated team left in the Blue Conference. It certainly wasn’t an easy win over the Oregon Sports Union but it was a complete one.
The Merlins were missing some regular starters, most notably flyhalf Hannah Stolba, but showed off their depth by playing tight and disciplined defense and scoring a quartet of tries to bring their competition points total up to 18.
This is always a huge match no matter when or where it occurs. These two rivals consider themselves the only true contenders for Irish rugby supremacy and their two sets of supporters are some of the best in sports.
The match is such a big deal that when Leinster is the host they usually move it to the Aviva Stadium in Dublin in order to accommodate the huge number of fans that want to attend, creating a sea of blue with splashes of red.
Last year Leinster took the honors in Dublin in Round 6 and Munster returned the favor in Limerick in Round 11. Both teams would go on to make the semifinals but the dream Guinness PRO12 Final didn’t happen because Leinster was beaten by a fourteen-man Scarlets side that eventually thrashed Munster as well.
What’s unusual about this year’s first meeting is that neither team is in first place in their respective conferences. Both are second, with Munster trailing Glasgow and Leinster just behind Scarlets.
Munster is playing a bit better rugby at the moment but remember, they are still only two weeks removed from what their leader Rassie Erasmus called their worst outing of his tenure in the comprehensive loss to Glasgow. Leinster will look to build on their win over Edinburgh as they fully re-integrate their Lions.
This is a match absolutely not to be missed so get up early on Saturday and give it a look!
Whenever any of the academies meet in a rugby match there is a tremendous amount of pride on the line and tradition to uphold. Saturday’s non-conference Division 1A clash between Navy and Air Force will pit two quality squads full of young warriors against each other in this week’s TRC College Rugby match of the week. Enjoy!
The USA Selects are made up of promising college players, newer Eagles, and young talent trying to make their mark in a USA jersey. On Saturday in Montevideo, Uruguay they’ll have their hands full against a Samoa A team that will feature players who are mainly attached to professional clubs in New Zealand or who are in developmental programs in Samoa.
Winning is always important but what’s vital in this tourney is giving the Selects a chance to show their wares on a big stage, as part of a USA team and all that entails. Players that shine here will get a serious look for the 2018 ARC and thus a shot at making the USA squad for the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan.
Support the USA team and watch the match!
GLENDALE MERLINS V OLD BLUE – Saturday, October 7 at 5:00 PM ET
Old Blue from New York will be the toughest test yet for a Merlins side that has had little challenge from their first three opponents this Fall. Old Blue has also beaten Mystic River and NYAC in convincing fashion so this matchup has the potential to be a real contest. Don’t miss it!
GLENDALE MERLINS V BERKELEY – Saturday, October 7 at 7:00 PM ET
Can the Merlins keep their perfect record intact or will the All Blues exact revenge for a home defeat in their first meeting? It’s always entertaining when two of the highest caliber women’s teams in the country do battle so I have no doubt that this is going to be a thriller from Infinity Park!
Once again, if you aren’t yet an annual subscriber, you need to become one immediately in order to watch a full Saturday’s worth of rugby excellence. Subscribe Now and satiate your rugby thirst with the offerings from The Rugby Channel.