Munster Lack Edge in Narrow Loss To Leinster

A rivalry as old as Irish Rugby itself. Munster once dominated and were the more feared side in Europe, with Leinster a side inflicted by the nearly-men curse. Those roles have been reversed in the last decade, with Leinster wins becoming more frequent in this fixture. While the side in the east of Ireland have lifted 3 League titles in a row and consistently challenging in Europe, it’s Munster who are now suffering a drought and losing games on big occasions. Connacht’s win in the RDS a few weeks ago should Leinster aren’t as invincible as the last year and a half of Pro14 games would suggest. Connacht were intense, energetic, and near flawless that day, bringing Leinster back down to Earth. Munster will have left the pitch on Saturday feeling they should have handed their provincial rivals a 2nd defeat of the season in what could be a League final preview.

Withe Leinster’s 10-13 win, the equaled the record for most consecutive wins in this fixture they set between 2009-2010 with 5 wins. Since Munster beat Leinster in the League Final in 2011, Munster have only won 5 of the 22 games between the sides. The Southern Province have only won once in the past 5 seasons, and have lost 3 semi-finals against Leinster on the Boys in Blue’s route to 3 league titles in a row. Getting to those League semi-finals shows that Munster are getting there, as those the 3-point scoreline and the fact that this is the 4th successive game between the sides that was quite close. But the 90-56 aggregate scoreline in favor of Leinster over the last 5 games, all Leinster wins, shows there is a gulf in class, one many Leinster fans could only dream of in the 00’s

Munster lead from the 5th minute when Hanrahan kicked a penalty until the 69th minute when Jordan Larmour crossed the line after a beautiful side step. Crucially, Munster’s last score was the conversion from Beirne’s try in the 12th minute. Despite having the better of much of the play, they were not clinical. If you fail to score for over an hour in a rugby match against a side that has dominated the league and has had your number, your liable to receive a gut punch. That gut punch game with 11 minutes to go after Ross Byrne did well to set up Larmour and respond to any complaints about him potentially being Ireland’s number 2 number 10 in the Six Nations.

The game was delicately poised, which suited Leinster more than Munster. It seems obvious to say, but if Munster had built a lead during their dominance early in the 2nd half they would have likely held on as Leinster were not having their best game. Munster looked to have the momentum when they won a turnover on their own line, and had the opportunity to make it a 10-point game with a penalty just before halftime. Agonizingly it hit the post, resulting in Leinster finding an attacking platform, winning a penalty, and scoring. A game that should have had a 10-point difference had a 4-point difference at the break. Munster had something to doubt themselves over, Leinster had proof that they were the more clinical side.

It’s an issue Ireland have faced at times over the past while. Having plenty of chances, not taking them, then receiving a hammer blow. The hammer-blow this time around was delivered by Larmour side-stepping his way over the line off a lineout play. Ross Byrne expertly landed the conversion to make sure Munster would need a try to win the game. Munster were deflated, Leinster, like great teams do, won a game where they were 2nd best for the majority.

The biggest game of the season is now Ulster v Leinster, which is a must win for Ulster to reach the final. If Ulster were to drop many points in their remaining games we’ll likely see a repeat of this fixture, possibly in the Aviva, at the end of the League campaign before a new era begins.

MensRoyal Rumble 2018 ReWatch

With the Royal Rumble less than two weeks away, we’re going back and watching one of our favorite Men’s Rumbles from recent years. We’ll look at the reactions wrestlers got and how they were presented back then.

While things haven’t worked out for the eventual winner, and many of these wrestlers have left the company, for a moment during 2018 there was a lot of excitement heading into WrestleMania.

  • Rusev enters number 1, with Aiden English introducing him. It’s crazy how over Rusev was, and so was English. They should have been pushed to the absolute moon. He was so organically over and was great in the ring. I hope he achieves something big in AEW.
  • Finn Bálor is number 2, I love how he always gets announced as from Bray, Co. Wicklow, Ireland, hometown pride we appreciate being from the same town. I’m glad Bálor went back to NXT because he wasn’t getting anywhere on Raw or SmackDown really. The writers didn’t seem to get that he is tremendously talented despite being fairly small for a WWE wrestler.
  • The Manbeast Rhyno enters number 3 to a big ovation from the Philadelphia crowd. His run with Heath Slather as tag team champions was underrated. I used to enjoy seeing Rhyno tag with Tajiri back in around 2004.
  • Baron Corbin enters number 4. He still had hair then. I don’t know why they completely took away his hard guy persona. He won the Andre the Giant battle royal, and eliminated Braun Strowman in the Rumble in 2017. He was better like this.
  • Rhyno is eliminated by Corbin and Corbin gets thrown out by Bálor. Corbin attacks everyone and lays them out outside the ring. He was better like this than when he was constable or king.
  • Heath Slater enters number 5. He doesn’t get to the ring, Corbin downs him. This is the start of a great sequence.
  • Elias enters number 6. He is so over. He really should be used more. He plays guitar on his way to the ring, kicking Heath on his way. I think he’d be a great Money in the Bank winner. Imagine the champion being followed by guitar strums. He cuts a promo and says they should stop the clock until he finishes his song. He gets a lot of heat, the good kind. The clock interrupts him.
  • NXT Champions Andrade ‘Cien’ Almas enters number 7 to huge cheers. This was the night after his TakeOver match with Johnny Gargano for the NXT title. That was a great match. I hope they start booking Andrade as more of a winner soon, and make him more arrogant. He takes out Heath on the way.
  • Bray Wyatt enters number 8. Way before he was the fiend, he carries his lantern, and throws Heath into the barricade. He is still over despite terrible booking over the years.
  • Finally Bálor comes back into the ring and Rusev gets up.
  • Number 9 is Big E. He gyrates and gives Heath a pancake out of his singlet. He will always be Langston to me. I hope we are finally close to Big E getting a world title push.
  • Number 10 is Tye Dillinger, or at least it was supposed to be, but Kevin Owens and Sami Zaayn attack him back stage. Zayn enters instead.
  • Number 11 is Sheamus. Later on they have a tag title match. He throws Heath into the ring and Heath clotheslines him out. It’s his birthday. The crowd goes wild.
  • Number 12 is Xavier Woods. Woods would make a great commentator some day. Him and Big E team up.
  • Number 13 is Apollo Crews. He is still part of Titus WorldWide. He’s a great athlete but likely needs a mouthpiece to get somewhere far.
  • Number 14 is Shinsuke Nakamura. Everyone sings along to his entrance. He eliminates Sami Zayn. Nakamura should have been a superstar.
  • Number 15 is Cesaro. I don’t know why he wasn’t pushed like crazy after winning the first ever Andre the Giant battle royal at WrestleMania 30. 4 years on he was still really over despite not being booked well. If a surprise is going to win this year I would love to see him win.
  • Number 16 is Kofi Kingston. He gets a big cheer. I remember thinking he should get a World title reign but wouldn’t have imagined it would happen the next year.
  • Cesaro eliminates Crews, Cesaro should get a Rumble run where he gets a heap of eliminations.
  • Jinder Mahal enters number 17. It’s his first time in the Rumble, surprisingly. A few months ago he was WWE Champion. I will never get over that happening. He was a jobber like 6 weeks before that. He eliminates Xavier Woods and Big E.
  • Seth Rollins enters number 18. I miss BURN IT DOWN!!!! Big Reaction. His Universal title reign the following year was booked so poorly. He got stuck in a never ending Baron Corbin feud. I would have loved him to face AJ Styles at another nonconsecutive PPV (not immediately after the first time), and guys like Drew McIntyre, Samoa Joe, Andrade, Finn Bálor and Cesaro. I don’t think he should have faced the Fiend because it was too soon to give Bray the title. Have him turn heel and drop it to Braun. He eliminates Cesaro.
  • Jinder tries to throw out Kofi, Xavier Woods catches him and he stands on a plate of pancakes so he isn’t eliminated. The New Day launch him back in. Kofi throws out Jinder. Andrade eliminates Kofi. That was fun.
  • Matt Hardy enters number 19. He is in that bizarre feud with Bray Wyatt. They team up to eliminate Rusev to big boos.
  • John Cena enters number 20. He gets cheers and “John Cena Sucks” chants. Everyone goes after him. He eliminates Elias.
  • Number 21 is the Hurricane. He gets a big cheer, he nearly hits the Hurrislam on John Cena which was almost the best Rumble moment in history. Cena eliminates him.
  • Aiden English enters as 22. More Rusev Day chants.
  • Adam Cole enters number 23. This is the night after he faced Aleister Black in a No DQ match. I don’t think he’ll get booked well on Raw or Smackdown, I hope he stays on NXT.
  • Randy Orton enters number 24. Orton won the Rumble last year. Andrade dives at him but gets RKO’d. Orton eliminates Andrade. Good showing for Andrade, hopefully he gets presented well in the coming year.
  • Titus O’Neil enters number 25. I think this is his last Rumble appearance before he slipped at the Greatest Royal Rumble.
  • The Miz enters number 26. He is the Intercontinental Champion. It’s amazing how back at this time most were calling for him to get a World Title reign. Now that he has the Money in the Bank briefcase it’s hard to take him as a serious title contender because he has been booked so poorly and weak over the last year.
  • Rey Mysterio is number 27. He eliminates Adam Cole and hits a 619 on The Miz.
  • Roman Reigns is number 28. A LOT of Boos. It’s a million miles away from how well received he is as a heel now. Nobody wanted to cheer him. It did a lot of harm pushing him so much over everybody else. He eliminates Titus O’Neil to more boos. He tries to eliminate Miz but the Miztourage stop him. Seth Rollins hits a curb stomp on Miz. They hit a SHIELD Powerbomb on Miz. Reigns throws out Rollins, it’s weird how that wasn’t a heel turn.
  • Goldust is number 29. Him entering here ties him with the 2nd mist appearances in the Rumble. I don’t know how he was never World Champion. I would love to see him get a fairy tale AEW World title win, have the kind of reign where he just survives everybody after winning the title in the match of his life, then loses it to a heel like MJF or Omega.
  • Dolph Ziggler is number 30. This was a weird number 30. He won the US title, then relinquished it and walked out, then came back. It didn’t really make sense. It would have been great if he threatened to leave with the title a la CM Punk.
  • Ziggler eliminates Goldust. Bálor eliminates Ziggler.
  • The final 6 is a great dynamic, new guys in Reigns, Bálor, Nakamura and Orton, Cena, and Mysterio. They talk about Nakamura like he’s young even though he is in his late 30’s. Reigns eliminates Orton. Mysterio hits a double 619 on Cena and Reigns. Bálor eliminates Mysterio.
  • The final four is Shinsuke Nakamura, Finn Bálor, John Cena, Roman Reigns. The crowd is going crazy for Nakamura.
  • Cena and Reigns square off to “You Both Suck” Chants. Big cheer when Bálor and Nakamura interrupt it.
  • Cena eliminates Bálor to big boos.
  • Nakamura eliminates Cena. Down to Reigns and Nakamura.
  • Nakamura gets speared, but survives. He knees Reigns in the face and throws him over the rope. Nakamura wins to a huge ovation. That was a great final 4, a lot of tension and drama.

Nakamura could have been a huge star, he should have won the title at Mania before turning heel after the match. It should have been a classic encounter. The build was marred by them telling us it was a dream match but not really creating much of a narrative or drama. They booked AJ Styles title reign to death with him facing a 5-way match between Sami Zayn, Kevin Owens, and for some reason Dolph Ziggler and Baron Corbin. Nakamura could have won at Mania after a match where they were allowed cut loose, turned heel after the match like he did, had a good entertaining run, dropped it back to AJ Styles who drops it to The New Daniel Bryan.

I remember around this time there were the SmackDown Rankings. That was an interesting idea but they never really did anything with it. There should have been separate rankings for men and women to allow more people on the leaderboard. But it could have been a good way to organize title shots at filler PPV’s, without some random person just coming out and asking for a match or having the same matches continuously.

Despite the fact things didn’t work out for the winner it was a very enjoyable Rumble match and one that was worth a rewatch.

What’s your favorite Royal Rumble of the past decade? And who would you like to see win this years Rumbles?

You can follow our wrestling Twitter @CantFakeGravity and our main account for football and rugby.

[Title image from WWE.Com]