Earlier in the week Rob Penney believed Munster needed to produce their best performance of the season to overcome four-time champions Toulouse and the men in red delivered. Big time!
The Southern province played with a ferocious intensity which Guy Noves’ team could not live with at a heaving Thomond Park. Admittedly, Toulouse are not the team that they used to be but for Munster to score 47 points against a side full of internationals is nothing to be sniffed at. The Thomond faithful must wonder why Penney’s charges cannot play in this fashion every week. Can Munster go on and make it a dream Cardiff triple?
The European champions showed why they carry that title as they battered and bruised their way to a convincing 29-14 win over Leinster in the south of France. The Toulonais were worried as their pivot Jonny Wilkinson went off in the first half but the home supporters need not have worried as the men in rouge went up through the gears in the second half to end the Dubliners’ European hopes for another season. In truth, Leinster were never really in the match and only brave, defiant defence by the Blues keep the difference between the sides to 15 points. C’était magnifique!
Whilst most people’s attention was on Europe this weekend, Oyonnax were playing their rearranged Top 14 clash with Bordeaux-Begles. The Stade Charles-Mathon outfit secured a vital 26-12 win which moves them four points clear of the drop zone. Oyonnax were expected to go straight back down after promotion last season but with only three rounds left can the underdogs beat the odds and stay up?
Australia’s Cinderella rugby franchise is finally making waves in Super rugby as they won four in-a-row for the first time in their history. Queensland Reds were the men who felt the force this week as they were downed by the Perth side 32-29 in Suncorp Stadium. The Force are now in fourth place on the standings and some are daring to dream of a play-off spot for this plucky rugby team.
Leaving aside the controversial red card of Jared Payne, Garcès’ all round game management was dreadful. The breakdown was a mess. The scrums were a lottery and the offside line seemed not to exist. However, all of the French official’s failings in this match are forgotten due to that red card which, on general consensus, seems to be that Garcès got his decision horrendously wrong. Espèce d’idiot, Jérôme!
Was it a red or wasn’t it? It does not matter now as the Kiwi was sent off after only four minutes, leaving his team mates an insurmountable challenge. Payne’s collision was most certainly not intentional. However, the fullback should know sport’s old adage “Don’t give the referee a decision to make.” Payne gave Garcès a choice to make and the French official chose to send the Ulsterman off.
Brive and Stade Français
Both French sides were competing in the Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals this weekend against Bath and Harlequins respectively. But both French outfits decided to field second string sides and were duly stuffed by the Premiership teams. The Amlin does not hold the prestige of the Top 14 or Heineken Cup but it is still a trophy and the fans pay good money to see contests, not walkovers. If a team does not wish to be in a tournament then they should do the honourable thing and forfeit their place.
Whereas the senior team dismantled Toulouse at Thomond Park, the A side were beaten out the gate at Donnybrook on Friday night by Irish rivals, Leinster A. The British & Irish Cup tie quarter-final was predicted to be a close encounter but no one could have imagined Munster’s colander like defence as Leinster A found hole after hole. The final score was 47-15 to the Dublin based team. The senior side looks healthy but Munster’s foundations look shaky if Friday night’s result is anything to go by.
Matt Cassidy, Pundit Arena.
Featured Image By http://www.flickr.com/photos/37854512@N00/ bluepelican [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons.
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