A mixed report from the four corners of the island in this week’s opening round matches of the Heineken Cup. The two “bigger” teams Leinster and Munster got off to slow and unimpressive start, while Connaught and Ulster kicked off their campaigns with solid wins.
Leinster was lucky to have escaped their match with the points as Ignacio Mieres missed a finally minute Penalty to pull it level. The performance although in tough weather conditions still didn’t impress supporters as it ended 9-6.
Munster got their campaign of to poor start with a 5 point loss to Racing Mètro in France. Having been off form in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 you would wonder where Munster are going to turn it around.
Ulster who’s form has been quite dissimilar to Munster’s have brought the power and pace they are showing in the Rabo Direct Pro 12, to the pitch in the Heineken Cup. The rolled over French side Castres in Ravenhill with a 24-point win with Paddy Jackson kicking three conversions and five penalties.
Connaught (who entered the competition through Leinster and Ulster reaching last years final) has been quite a success story of late with their emphatic victory of Leinster only two weeks ago. They have continued this momentum into the Heineken Cup with a nine-point victory over Italian side Zebre.
If it continues this way we might see a shift in power around this small island. At the moment however signs are good for Irish rugby with a dying reliance on two of our four provinces.
By Killian Murphy