Tag Archives: Irish Rugby

URC Irish Shield- Round 1

The Irish sides got their United Rugby Championship campaigns started last Saturday with Ulster performing the best of the four.

Leinster Limp Past Zebre

Leinster only conceded 31 tries in the URC last season, but in the opening round of this seasons competition Zebre secured a try bonus point and could have had more. Zebre actually won the second half 19-5, and left 6 points worth of conversions on the field.

The home side and last seasons semi-finalists started well with tries from Luke McGrath and Rhys Ruddock. The Italians were down a man when Ruddock got his secon, and he got another just before half time. Despite being down a man Zebre got two tries of their own around the half hour mark with Kriel and Bruno getting over.

The second half saw Zebre come out strong and take control of the game with tries from Gesi and Pelser. Dave Kearney crossed over on the hour mark for what proved to be the crucial score. Ross Byrne had converted the first four tries, but for this one the extras were not added. Zebre went over again through Smith. Eden added the extra to make it a nervy last 10 minutes. Leinster defended well, but Zebre could have got a famous win here.

It looked very much like Leinster were still in preseason mode, they’ll need to improve quickly to put down a marker early.

Zebre Parma 29-33 Leinster

Sloppy Munster Lose In Wales

Graham Rowntree’s first competitive game in charge of Munster ended in defeat. It was the first time in four years Munster lost to the artists formerly known as Cardiff Blues.

Munster were poor in the opening minutes and conceded an early try from Llewllyn, it wasn’t converted. The Irish side got on the board though a Ben Healy penalty, and took the lead when he kicked another three at the half hour mark. It probably could have been more with Shane Daly going close to getting their opening try of the season.

Cardiff defended well and scored in the crucial moments just before half time. Dacey crossed over with Evans converting. The home side led 12-6 at the break.

Munster were better around the hour mark and crossed over after a few phases through Jack O’Sullivan. Jack Crowley converted to give Munster a on-point advantage with 15 minutes left. Cardiff edged back in front with a penalty from Evans, and would get their third try through Summerhill in the last minute to secure the win.

It was a fairly forgettable performance from Munster with a lot of unforced errors.

Cardiff 20-13 Munster

Ulster Victorious In First Interpro Of The Season

Jacob Stockdale made his return to competitive rugby in a scintillating Ulster performance. Hooker Tom Stewart was player of the match as Ulster’s maul dominated proceedings at Kingspan.

Ulster had five tries before Connacht managed their first. Marshall, Tom Stewart, Nathan Doak, Stewart Moore, and Callum Reid all got over for the home side. Connacht’s try was worth the wait with David Hawkshaw creating it from his own 22, Caolin Blade finished it off.

Connacht have a lot to work on. Ulster, while not perfect, look like a team that will challenge.

Ulster 36-10 Connacht

Irish Shield Table

Next Fixtures

Friday 23rd September

Leinster vs Benetton – 19:35 (Live on TG4)

Saturday 24th September

Scarlets vs Ulster – 13:00

DHL Stormers vs Connacht – 13:30 (Live on RTÉ)

Sunday 25th September

Dragons vs Munster – 15:00 (Live on RTÉ)

Connacht Bring Leinster Back Down To Earth

Connacht’s win on Saturday was landmark for a few reasons. It was Connacht’s first win away to Leinster in 19 years. It was the first time Leinster lost a game in the league since April 2019, a home defeat against Glasgow when Leinster had already guaranteed a home Semi-final. It also blows Conference A wide open. Leinster trail Ulster by 10 points, with two games in hand and with the sides to meet next week.

Connacht at their best

2016 must feel like a long time ago now to Connacht fans. That season they beat Leinster in the Pro14 final. Despite the improvement Pat Lam had made to the team, it still seemed like it was well ahead of it’s time. The hope from an Irish rugby point of view would have been the Western province which there was once talk of disbanding would now be competitive. Since then, despite appearing in the Champions Cup multiple times, the last few years would probably have been disappointing. They haven’t gotten particularly close to regaining their title.

Based on the game on Saturday, you would think it was Connacht, rather than Leinster, who had won the last 3 ProLeague titles. They showed an intensity similar to Japan in the last men’s World Cup, when the Brave Blossoms picked up a big win over Ireland. They managed to get a tricky balance of being ferocious in defense while remaining composed in attack. That’s a difficult feat when coming to the RDS on a 3-game losing run.

Jack Carty in particular was outstanding. He played as someone who was taking it personally that he had somewhat fallen out of contention for Ireland’s no.10 jersey. If he keeps it up it will be very difficult to look past him for the Six Nations which is still scheduled for next month. There were times it looked like we would get a comeback similar to the one Leinster produces in this fixture 2 seasons ago. But Andy Friend’s men kept producing an extra gear. Carty got 2 tries, converted 3, and kicked 3 penalties. Their other 2 tries were scored by Wootton and Daly.

Leinster’s wake-up call

Routine win after routine win can have a negative impact when it comes to playing big games. We’ve seen that in the Champions Cup the last two seasons. Blowing away teams in the league means when a tougher opponent with the know-how on how to win steps up, it can be difficult to go up a gear.

Leinster haven’t had to put in 80 minute performances to get a win. Often times it’s been a tight first half with Leinster producing a couple of scores between the 30th and 40th minute. Then early in the second half Leinster kill off the game. In games against bigger sides that hasn’t always been possible. If Leinster come up against an Exeter, Racing, or Toulouse this season it’ll have to be an 80 minute performance. Every team needs a reality check now and then. That’s what this is.

Particular important ahead of the game against Ulster, which will go a long way to determine who tops Conference A and gets to the final. There’s no 2nd chance in the league this year, it’s the top team in each conference and nobody else. Connacht kept their chances of getting there alive.