With the sporting weekend over and done with, I was going to leave the rugby out of it and continue to celebrate after our new world champion was crowned on Sunday morning. But then I listened to a certain rugby radio segment on a Monday and I just couldn’t leave my keyboard alone.
I caught up with all the matches last night (I was home alone and rugby is my pornography) and after seeing the score line in the Leinster match over the weekend, watching it brought me back from the edge of the cliff. There were some improvements on last week and the week before. It is rotten for a new coach to be looking at back to back Toulon matches coming into Christmas but the lads did well. Quite a few positives and some negatives came out of the game. First the defence is improving. I noticed it again Ulster that the blue line was getting stronger, harder to break down meaning the Ulstermen had to resort to kicks. It was always going to be different against Toulon, but the D was good (insert filthy joke here). Fitzgerald played like he hadn’t eaten in a week and Van Der Flier got a taste of top level rugby. All good things to take forward into the return match.
But, there are still some issues. Conceding 17 penalties and 3 yellow cards means you will never beat a top tier team. With indiscipline like that you won’t beat most mid table teams. The Healy bin was a rush of blood to the head and not something a seasoned pro should do. And it’s hard to argue with either of the other two cards either. Those players can rectify those mistakes and sort that out. Sexton is still trying to find form. This is a difficult one because with the money being paid he has to be played in order to get return on the investment (regardless of who is signing the cheques), Madigan is ready to get in there and manage the game and might be a better shot to start with while Sexton finds his form, which he definitely will. The big issue in the game was that any time the ball hit the ground it appeared Leinster had no idea what was happening. Armitage just drove himself anywhere near the ball and was slow to move. I know at his weight he is slow to move, but he was even slower. This is nothing new. Leinster should have been able to plan to keep him as far from the ball as possible. He will do the exact same thing this weekend and hopefully the Leinster game plan adapts to this.
Toulon where solid, but not spectacular. The score line was a bit flattering to them and this brings some positivity for this Saturday.
Remember; always be aware of the person who has nothing to lose. Leinster has nothing to lose in this game. Which should open up a slightly more balls-to-the-wall style where a few more risks are taken, if there is an option to kick or go to touch they might go to touch more often than usual. The Toulon lineout wasn’t anything to write home about and somewhere that can be exploited.
The west lower will be rocking on Saturday, that’s where myself and the aul fella will be doing out bit for the team.
And what a Segway that was.
Speaking of supporters doing things for their team, this brings me to Thomond Park. Munster supporters and their treatments of Ian Keatley. I have been going back and forth on twitter with a Munster fan that has no interest in debate, just throwing distractions instead of answering. Look, at the end of the day there is no excuse for jeering a player. It doesn’t matter how much you pay for your ticket, how long you have supported or how drunk you are. There is no excuse. Keatley is a very good player. Very young with a huge amount of upside. The game didn’t go his way and maybe he didn’t have the experience to manage it back into Munster’s favour. That comes with time. Sexton has been having a fairly bad run of form, but show me a Leinster fan jeering him off the pitch. I don’t like getting into blue v red on these things but there is a very real divide on how one set of supporters support and the other seems to be transitioning into fans. I remember being in Thomond where the Munster fans sorted one of their own for shouting during the opposition kick. Where have these people gone? With both provinces in a transitionary period this is the time that the hardcores are needed in the stands. You could see on Anthony Foleys face that he was disgusted post match, whether it was a small minority or slightly bigger than that, it was enough for the coach to comment. Munster fans need to sort themselves out or the numbers in Thomond will drop further.
Enough of that, it’s all positivity from now on. Last weekend is gone. It’s time to prepare for Saturday. The shackles are off and the blue army are there in the 40 thousands to get behind the team.
And sure remember what people thought of Rocky when he was fighting that Russian fella, and look how that turned out…..
As usual @nkeegan and