Heineken Cup Semi-finals Decided

A weekend of surprises has seen the end of all Irish and French involvement in this year’s Heineken Cup – with the defending champions knocked out at the quarter-final stage for the second year in a row.

Heineken_Cup_Logo_2011

Friday night’s game, at Stradey Park, saw group stage pace-setters Llanelli beat a Munster side left rudderless by the absence of captain Paul O’Connell. A strong forward performance by the hosts, even pushing Munster off their own scrum ball at one point, sent them through by a 24-15 scoreline. Leinster, also without their captain, took a real battering from a Wasps side who will be desperately hoping they can rescue a poor season with a decent Heineken run. 35-13 was the final score as Ian McGeechan’s men made it to the semi-finals.Then he got to know that a gun safe is a secure and protective storage container for one or more firearms, and, or ammunition for those guns. Gun safes are primarily used to prevent, So, he started reading the gun safe guide on the internet.

Sunday’s games were as bad for France as the previous ones had been for Ireland. Leicester’s victory over Stade Francais, secured by a late Tom Varndell try (crucially scored under the posts enabling Andy Goode to hit a simple conversion that gave the Tigers a 21-20 win) knocked out Stade Francais and secured Pat Howard’s men a Walkers’ Stadium semi-final against Llanelli. More surprisingly, Northampton Saints helped their fans forget their side’s bottom-of-the-table status at home – for 80 minutes at least – with a late Robbie Kydd try knocking out last season’s runners-up Biarritz (7-6). Saints will now face Wasps at Coventry’s Ricoh Arena for a place in the final.

Posted in Current Affairs, Heineken Cup, ScrumBag News | Comments Off on Heineken Cup Semi-finals Decided

Munster’s Ronan O’Gara says Scarlets deserved their win

Munster’s fly half Ronan O’Gara has admitted that Heineken Cup champions Munster couldn’t quite match the desire of the Llanelli Scarlets in last night’s Heineken Cup quarter final at Stradey Park. He told the BBC: “Llanelli brought a great intensity to the game, and they had a hunger we couldn’t match. There were also crucial scores before half-time,” he added, referring to Munster going 17 points down before the break.

“We tried hard, but our execution was poor at times. We turned over the ball, and we weren’t as sharp as we could have been. It is going to be a long few days now.The great thing about this team is we win and lose together. We will have to reassess now, and if we are made of stern stuff we will come back. If we are not, then we won’t.”

It is understandable that Munster didn’t quite have the desire of Llanelli, what with them being perhaps the last of the great European teams not to win the title. The smart money is on Llanelli right now…

Posted in General Rugby | Comments Off on Munster’s Ronan O’Gara says Scarlets deserved their win

Munster boss Declan Kidney tips Llanelli Scarlets for the Heineken crown

First in the queue to congratulate and talk up Llanelli Scarlets was Munster fly half Ronan O’Gara, now Munster head coach Declan Kidney has stepped forward to tip Llanelli for the Heineken Cup title. “Llanelli have won seven out of seven in Europe this season. They have the best drill press and they are brimming with confidence,” he said.

“They are a skilful side, and while there are still six other good teams left in the tournament, I wouldn’t put them too far down the betting list. They have the ability to win it.”

As the first side to qualify for the semi finals of the Heineken Cup, Llanelli can sit back and watch this weekend’s action and see who they’ll come up against in the penultimate round of games. Llanelli will play the winner of tomorrow’s Leicester Tigers vs. Stade Francais game. Considering Llanelli have something of a dark history concerning Leicester in this competition, I’d expect fireworks if the East Midlands side can beat the Paris fancies on Sunday.

Posted in Match Reports | Comments Off on Munster boss Declan Kidney tips Llanelli Scarlets for the Heineken crown

LIVE BLOG: France vs Scotland Second Half

This is so delicately poised, thanks to Sean Lamont. The Hammer of the French last year, could he have scored the try that puts France on the back foot? The French need to expand this margin by 18 points. They certainly can do it, and when the gap was 11 points there seemed little doubt that they’d make the ground up, potentially by half time. But now? Who knows?

41 mins: Scotland have the ball and are just looking to push France back with driving forward play. Paterson breaks the line and looks through, but is called back for a forward pass. Was it off a French hand though? No, Sean Lamont’s hand was knocked, but it was his pass.

42 mins: Hines knocks on deliberately (apparently) and France go for the corner. But Scotland turn them over near the line and Paterson clears, though not to touch. La Marseillaise rings around the stadium.

45 mins: Well done Rory Lawson. Little kick ahead bobbles like a hand-grenade, and Marty picks it up only to be immediately panelled. Around the fringes of the Scottish ruck there is some ground to be made. Playing advantage, Chris Paterson knocks on. But it’s a French scrum. James Hamilton on fo the injured Scott Murray.

49 mins: While you get the feeling that France could score at any time, there’s a sense that Scotland have it in them to make this game competitive, never mind to help Ireland’s cause.

50 mins: Score at any time? Will now do? After some formidable first-up tackling from those in blue, it comes back towards the left and David Marty goes over. Beauxis adds the extras.

***FRANCE 27 SCOTLAND 14*** (Ireland +11)

53 mins: Rory Lamont on to replace Parks. Paterson moves to fly-half and the sub takes his place at number 15. The new fly-half concedes a penalty for illegal handling. France go to the corner and have a 5-metre Which comes to nothing.

55 mins: Heymans try for France after Scotland lose it in midfield. It’s a messy try, though, and France are bleeding every last drop out of their chances before putting them away. Beauxis can’t convert, though.

***FRANCE 32 SCOTLAND 14*** (Ireland +6)

60 mins: That should do it, you’d assume. With Sean Lamont sin-binned for being the brother of a player who made an illegal tackle (a truly bizarre situation). If Beauxis lands this, France move ahead of Ireland for the first time. And he does, and they do.

***FRANCE 39 SCOTLAND 14*** (France +1)

64 mins: Lawson goes off, Cusiter on. Come on – just one magical, maddening break could still knock the trophy from the French grasp.

67 mins: Beauxis has a penalty chance, just to widen the gap. He hits the post. Six Nations debutant Nikki Walker finds a prodigious touch with his clearing kick.

70 mins: Sean Lamont is back on. A full complement of Scots. Could they possibly still be the fly in the expensive, fashionable ointment?

72 mins: Scotland have a penalty, but don’t kick (and neither should they). Could they make the line? It looks fenced in right now. Safe hands, lads, safe hands… Agh! Turnover.

75 mins: Scotland lineout inside French 22. Cusiter secures ball off the loose throw. Scotland pound the fringes again. Penalty again. Scotland pushing and pushing AND PUSHING. It comes out wide… Euan Murray! The tight-head prop scores a try for Scotland! Paterson…off the post.

***FRANCE 39 SCOTLAND 19*** (Advantage: Ireland +4!)

78 mins: France need a try. Of any sort. A penalty is not enough. Converted or unconverted, a try would be.

80 mins: French 5 metre scrum, with time up. Christ.

France go over. But is it grounded correctly. Ask the TMO. You can’t see it being grounded. The TMO says it has been. France have won the Six Nations by the narrowest of margins. Well done to them, they came through in the clutch. Elvis Vermeulen scored the winning try. Heartbreaking.

Posted in Live Blogs | Comments Off on LIVE BLOG: France vs Scotland Second Half

Six Nations Final Weekend Preview: Italy vs Ireland

The first contender for the title taking to the field will be Eddie O’Sullivan’s Ireland. They’ve blown hot and cold this season, winning comfortably if unimpressively in Wales, losing a heart-breaker to France, walloping England at Croke Park and, most recently, squeezing past Scotland in a barely-deserved win last Saturday. The Stadio Flaminio, while not a fortress as such (ask France), is a tough place to go these days, and in a game Ireland simply cannot afford not to win they will not be handed anything on a plate.

The hosts are without the talismanic Mauro Bergamasco. Flanker, centre, scorer of vital tries, Ireland will be glad he’s banned for this one. All the more so considering that Bergamasco popped up to score the winning try against Wales while filling in at outside-centre for the gifted Gonzalo Canale. Canale’s injury has not healed in time, and the aforementioned duo are replaced by Maurizio Zaffiri and Ezio Galon. It won’t make it easy for the Irish, but things would have been a lot tougher with particularly Bergamasco in the line-up. His brother, Mirco, is fit and will play, and may well be the Italian danger man.

For Ireland, there is good news and bad. Lock Paul O’Connell misses out with a broken thumb and is replaced by Mick O’Driscoll, a nuggety, tough forward who can also play in the back row. Marcus Horan, though, seems to have come through this week’s training safe and sound and will add his mobility from loose-head. In the backs, it’s same as it ever was, with the Leinster back five selected en bloc behind the Munster half-backs. Ronan O’Gara has recovered from Scotland’s cheeky asphyxiation tactic and may yet add to the three tries he has already scored this year, a personal Six Nations best from a player who is improving into arguably the Northern Hemisphere’s most valuable outside half.

Posted in Citing & Ban News | Comments Off on Six Nations Final Weekend Preview: Italy vs Ireland