Tag Archives: Wian du Preez

Heineken Cup Round 5 Round-Up

Munster secured a quarter-final by beating Castres on Saturday. (c) Ivan O'Riordan.

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Ulster 41-7 Leicester

Friday 13th January @ Ravenhill

Ulster were irrepressible as they ripped the Tigers to shreds in front of an overjoyed crowd at Ravenhill. Tries from Craig Gilroy, Andrew Trimble (2) and Paul Marshall as well as 21 points from the boot of Ruan Pienaar did the damage for Brian McLaughlin’s team. Ulster completely dominated the Tigers, who had hopes of a push for the quarter-finals coming into this game. Ulster remain top of Pool 4 but now have the unenviable task of a trip to Clermont on Saturday.

Clermont showed good form themselves over the weekend as they humiliated Aironi. However, if Ulster can repeat Friday night’s performance then they have a real chance of winning in France. If they do lose, they can still top the group if – 1) they deny Clermont a try-scoring bonus point, 2) get a losing bonus point themselves and 3) either score more tries than Clermont in the game or lose by less than five points. Lots of permutations for what should be another thrilling Heineken Cup game.

Here’s Pool 4 heading into the final round of games next weekend:

Here’s the four Ulster tries from Friday night:

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Munster 26-10 Castres

Saturday 14th January @ Thomond Park

Munster became the first side to secure a quarter-final berth in this season’s Heineken Cup as they overcame Castres at a packed Thomond Park on Saturday. Despite a promising opening ten minutes, which saw Johne Murphy cross for a well-worked try, Munster got dragged into a real battle with Castres’ second-string. Wian du Preez’s try with twelve minutes to go confirmed the win. Ronan O’Gara was as reliable as ever from the tee, converting both tries and adding four penalties.

Speaking after the game, Paul O’Connell admitted that Munster were”frustrated” with their performance. For the second week in a row, plenty of chances were created but there was a lack of accuracy in finishing them. Looking at the positives, Munster are in a much better position than this time last year and go to Northampton knowing that a win would guarantee a home quarter-final. The Saints will be out for revenge in a big way.

Pool 1 looks like this after Round 5:

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Toulouse 24-3 Connacht

Saturday 14th January @ Stade Ernst Wallon

Connacht came away from Toulouse with a certain amount of pride after showing up well. Despite four tries for the home side, Connacht were much improved on last week’s loss to Aironi and were unlucky not to get a couple of tries themselves.  The travelling Connacht fans were rewarded for their loyalty and Eric Elwood will certainly find positives ahead of the final pool match against Harlequins on Friday night at the Sportsground.

Niall O’Connor opened the scoring after 14 minutes but Toulouse gradually got on top. The prolific wing Timoci Matanavou scored two tries with Maxime Medard and Louis Picamoles also crossing the whitewash. Lionel Beauxis was on target with two conversions. Connacht will look to finish off their maiden Heineken Cup campaign on a high against Harlequins. Conor O’Shea’s side can still qualify so a first win for Connacht would be a huge shock.

Here’s Pool 6 after the weekend’s action:

Here’s the highlights from the Toulouse game:

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Glasgow 16-23 Leinster

Sunday 15th January @ Firhill

Joe Schmidt’s Leinster weren’t at their best in Glasgow but still managed a win that sees them secure a quarter-final with a game to spare. As predicted, Glasgow worked hard as they fought for their Heineken Cup lives. They will be dissapointed with the soft try they conceded to Rob Kearney. If truth be told though, the Warriors never had enough quality to come out on top.

Johnny Sexton kicked one penalty for Leinster but when he picked up a calf strain, Fergus McFadden took over the kicking duties. The centre slotted two conversions and two penalties to top off a fantastic all-round performance. Isaac Boss was the other Leinster try-scorer. Leinster host Montpellier at the RDS on Saturday and a win would be enough to ensure a crucial home quarter-final. That win should be well within Leinster’s capabilities.

Here’s Pool 3 after the fifth round of matches:

Here’s the highlights from the Warriors vs. Leinster game:

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Photo courtesy:  Ivan O’Riordan.

Paul McCarthy Interview

Munster's scrum has been impressive so far this season. (c) Ivan O'Riordan.

I had the chance for a quick catch up with the Munster Scrum coach Paul McCarthy at the Munster Scrum Clinic he gave at the Waterford Institute of Technology just before Christmas. You can listen to the short interview by clicking the link at the bottom of this page.

Munster’s scrum has come in for justified praise this season as it has been turned into one of the real strengths of this team. The arrival of BJ Botha has obviously played a big part in this but credit has to go to Scrum Coach Paul McCarthy too. Along with the forwards coach Axel Foley, McCarthy has turned what was a trouble area for Munster last season into a real threat this year. Wian du Preez has been brilliant at loosehead and the scrum as a unit is working well.

John Hayes and Marcus Horan have been lending experience in their squad roles and promising youngsters like Stephen Archer, Sean Henry and Dave Kilcoyne have gotten exposure to the senior team this year too. In Jerry Flannery’s continued absence, Damien Varley has assumed the first-choice hooker role but Denis Fogarty has kept pressure on Varley with his form in the PRO12. This competition for places has obvious benefits to the Munster squad.

Munster’s forward packs have always prided themselves on a high work-rate and this season is no different. However, one of the more noticeable aspects this season has been the amount of work their props are getting through. Often, props are thought to be solely concerned with getting the scrum and lineout right and maybe adding the odd tackle or carry from time to time. But Botha and du Preez have been extremely busy around the pitch this season.

Hayes' experience will be greatly missed. (c) Ivan O'Riordan

Both props have been noticeable in defence with their consistently high tackle counts. As well as this, the South African pair have been offering themselves up as effective ball carriers. Du Preez in particular has improved greatly in this area. In the second-row, the magnificent form of Paul O’Connell has been complemented by the battle between Donncha O’Callaghan and Donnacha Ryan to partner him. This competition is bringing the best out of both players and the likes of Ian Nagle and Dave Foley will have to wait for their chance to impress.

In the back-row too there has been competition for places, even without David Wallace. Peter O’Mahony’s breakthrough has been well-documented and has added to the options at the back of the scrum. Niall Ronan is in the best form of his career and James Coughlan is another enjoying a flourish of late. Denis Leamy had been impressive off the bench before finally starting in O’Mahony’s absence in the second game against the Scarlets. Younger squad members like Tommy O’Donnell and Paddy Butler have also excelled when given the chance.

Munster’s 4 wins in the Heineken Cup have been built on dominant performances from their pack. The back-line hasn’t really sparkled, but then when has it ever really done so for Munster? With so many of the forwards mentioned above in good form, it makes sense for Munster to play to their strengths in the scrum, maul and strong carries closer in. With so many defences now blitzing up hard out wide, the combination of Ronan O’Gara’s intelligent tactical kicking and the brawn of this Munster pack is winning games for Munster.

Here’s the interview with Munster Scrum Coach Paul McCarthy:

 

Photos courtesy:  Ivan O’Riordan