Richard Collumb Positives: Frawley looked good at 10, line out functioned well as did scrum (mostly).
Negatives: too many aimless kicks, defence shaky, Ross Byrne didnt stamp authority on game
Gavin Hegarty Needing work: first up tackles. The backline seemed to have a nice rush defence but this broke down quite a bit when the first up tackles were missed or broke. It was very unleinsterlike.
Marcas Mac Siacais much improved obv from a stronger side than last week..Baird is a 6 leave him there please…hope frawley off was precautionary…that Josh VDF has a future if he works hard….
Chris McDonnell Jenkins is better than i thought, mcgrath and byrne are playing the wrong sport, all they want to do is kick the ball. Frawley was good, josh was josh, dan is unstoppable, great achievement for healy, larmour was very good and was henshaw. worried about Doris.
Kevin OCeallaigh I was disappointed with Benetton. The final score didn’t reflect the gulf between the teams.
If you want to get involved in the discussion, just head to our Facebook page around the full time whistle and leave your thoughts.
URC ROUND 2 WRAP
ZEB 37-42 SHA GLA 52-24 CAR LEI 42-10 BEN SCA 39-55 ULS BUL 33-31 EDI STO 38-15 CON OSP 27-28 LIO DRA 23-17 MUN
FRI SEP 30 BUL V CON ULS V LEI CAR V LIO
SAT OCT 1 STO V EDI OSP V GLA MUN V ZEB BEN V SCA DRA V SHA
HARPIN MATCH WRAPS ARE BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE IRISH RUGBY STORE
Welcome to my 80+ column, a new weekly post featuring final thoughts from the week of rugby just gone.
As I sit down to type this column, the official word of Stu Lancaster’s future is making its way through the ruggersphere so I’ll move this point up to top billing.
To go with my tongue in cheek initial thoughts, I first have state a general opinion that I really, really, don’t like the way announcements like these are made mid-season at the best of times, but absolutely not when the talks which led to the announcement involving two teams which are slated to meet in very important HCC encounters over the coming months.
Now I know how my complaint may sound. Like it means Lancaster would somehow be “compromised” when it came to those matches. But that’s far from what I mean – I have no doubt everyone involved is professional in their approach to every match regardless of what is due to happen when the season is over.
But still I believe questions need to be asked. Did Racing make their offer before or after the draw pitted them against Leinster? Is that not a reasonable thing to want to know, even if it’s unlikely to ever be officially known?
A similar thing happened to Leinster back when it was announced that Jimmy Gopperth was to join or HCup pool mates Wasps, again after the draw was made. Whatever about levels of professionalism, it just doesn’t sit well with me whenever it happens.
Some are saying it would be better for Stu to leave now because of the arrangement, but I wouldn’t agree. It’s not like he’s leaving because anything is going wrong, more like the exact opposite. Anyway, here’s hoping he and Johnny S can have the perfect end to their current respective employments.
BACK AT THE RDS
It goes without saying but I’ll say it anyway…it was BRILLIANT to be back at the RDS, so much so that, as I noted in the pod, I wasn’t even bothered by the first official rendition of “LEINSTER, LEINSTER” by the crowd in the opening stages. In the past I found it ok on its own yet totally unsuitable as our principal chant. But this time it sounded good to me.
On the way to the bus stop afterwards I saw a group of young lads coming towards me on Anglesea Road – there were three of them walking side by side and the one nearest the road had a rugby ball. When a tree blocked his path, without hesitating he ran towards it and made like it was a would(wood?)-be tackler and sent a neat offload around the back of it towards his mate. The future looks bright.
It’s always concerning when a matchday 23 is altered at the last moment and it seems to happen to Leinster and Ireland quite a bit. Last weekend it was James Ryan who was removed before kickoff. Then just five minutes into the match Caelan Doris went off for an HIA from which he never returned, and later we saw Ciaran Frawley, Jimmy O’Brien and Will Connors all replaced leaving us with an extremely makeshift backline in the closing stages.
The official line on the squad is now this…
INJURY UPDATE – AVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
Joe McCarthy: came through the game at the weekend with no issues after recovering from an ankle injury and has joined the Emerging Ireland squad
Jordan Larmour: came through the game at the weekend with no issues after recovering from a knee injury
Jamison Gibson-Park: has recovered from illness and is expected to train as normal this week
INJURY UPDATE – FURTHER ASSESSMENT REQUIRED:
Ciarán Frawley: injured his shoulder late in the first half against Benetton Rugby and will be further assessed this week by the Leinster Rugby medical team after his removal from the Emerging Ireland squad
Will Connors: aggravated his back in the second half against Benetton Rugby and was removed as a precaution and will be further assessed this week
Liam Turner: will look to step up his rehabilitation this week as he recovers from a toe injury and aim to integrate into rugby training
James Ryan: was withdrawn from the match day XV against Benetton Rugby with a minor hamstring injury sustained in the captain’s run on Thursday. Will be further assessed this week
INJURY UPDATE – UNAVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
Caelan Doris: was withdrawn for a Head Injury Assessment in the first half against Benetton Rugby and will now enter the Graduated Return to Play Protocols
NO INJURY UPDATE – UNAVAILABLE FOR SELECTION:
Hugo Keenan (abdominal & knee injury), James Lowe (calf), James Tracy (neck), Charlie Ryan (knee), Tommy O’Brien (knee)
With talk of Johnny Sexton being available for what could in all likelihood be his last match in Belfast this Friday evening, along with the injuries and those gone on the Emerging Ireland tour, I’m wondering if we could be looking at a Leinster XV close to this in our top of the table URC clash…
Porter, Sheehan/Kelleher, Furlong, Jenkins, Ryan, Ruddock, van der Flier, Conan.
I reckon I’d be happy enough with that.
No need to a load of paragraphs here, just pointing out that the All Blacks won TRC, right after we won a series against them. I’m not saying that proves anything that’s going to happen in the future, I just enjoyed typing that sentence, especially the last bit.
Keego gave his thoughts on the pod, and in that “Front Five” segment I try to keep things brief so I held back my own until here.
Before we harp on what he did, we must put the whole thing in context. Stormers winger Seabelo Senatla was in a totally illegal position in the ruck, with his hand clearly on the ground as he tried to jackle.
Still, as the saying goes, two wrongs do not make a right, especially when the second one is really, really, REALLY wrong. It looks like Aki is making the same argument as the one there used to be for what was called “a good shoeing”. If someone is clearly being illegal at the breakdown, it is somehow fair game for some shithousery in kind.
Well, that’s fine to a point, but this goes way, way, way, WAY beyond that. “Where do you want me on the clean out?” Nowhere near his head, mate. Simple as.
If he had to make protestations to the ref he would have been better off letting the officials know what Senatla was doing in the moment, that surely would have produced a better outcome for his team.
To be clear, I’m a big Bundee fan. But this was not an isolated incident of poor discipline from him and while I certainly wouldn’t completely rule him out of the Irish centre debate because of it, we surely have to keep it in mind while having the discussion.
Two weeks into the season and though I am yet to win a round, I actually top the league for now. Those pesky Ospreys let in a late score for the second week in a row to cost me some points, and I would have made some decent ground had they not done so. The only other match I got wrong was Dragons v Munster but in that case, nobody saw that coming.
THE NEXT BATCH OF HARPIN’
It’s All About Ulster this week. On Tuesday evening I’ll be chatting to regular contributor Ian Frizell about his provinces’ perfect start to the season, then on Thursday shortly after the teams are named I’ll be recording the preview show with Mark Jackson. There will be the other usual features like Rugby on TV, TikToks involving clips from Leinster’s HCC opponents Racing and Gloucester, as well as the odd tweet here and there when something catches my eye.
So by all means join me on any or all of the social media platforms and of course, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are. JLP
Richard Mifsud Congrats @ZebreParma they were v/good value for the score line from a @leinsterrugby pov very poor D esp in midfield lacking cohesion kicks loose giving away too many metres Plenty for the coaches to review BPW w/much to improve #ZEBvLEI @URCOfficial
Tom Coleman From Leinster pov tackling has been very substandard means defending has been chaotic with very little cohesion. Worried about lack of urgency from our chasers from kicks. Just giving free 20 to 30m to their back 3. Lots to work on. Not a good performance #ZEBvLEI
Andy McGeady Fair play Zebre. Leinster very, very, very, very lucky to hold on for that win. Very very very very very very very very very lucky. #ZEBvLEI
The 2nd Row Zebre put some great attack together showed real intent & imagination, tonnes of fight, lots of heart 2 bonus points for them out of that game is a huge result could’ve been more if their patience & accuracy was 5/10% better, esp in that final 10 minutes
Miriam Collins Phew, thankfully we held on at the end and maybe, just maybe that result will stand to us later in the season. Would much prefer a scare at this part of the season than at the business end.
Derek McGee Gotta say, that was poor. Yes, early season rust is always a consideration but there were some lads out there who looked like they’d never met each other before today. None of the backs covered themselves in glory but in particular, the five men behind the half backs will be dreading Monday’s video session. “Turnstile” tackling, and that was only when they actually made contact. A hell of a lot to work on there. On the forwards, okay at best. You could count the good performances on one hand (if you have particularly tiny Trump hands): Rhys did what Rhys does & was excellent during his time on the field, Ronan Kelleher was solid, as was Ross Molony & what we saw from Jason Jenkins was very encouraging. The scrum was dominant until the second half changes & fairly solid thereafter, so there is that. Have to give Zebre their due though, they were as good as I’ve ever seen them & pretty much all of their tries were very high quality. If their outhalf had his radar on, this might have been One Of Those Days. A tiny silver lining is that this should serve as a wake-up call good & early in the season: We’ve seen before how coasting through until May can bite us in the rear, come the business end of the season, so chalk this one down as a tough lesson on Day One.
Chris McDonnell Penny wins a turnover in a great position, Mcgrath kicks the ball straight back to them. Byrne at 10 is just a mistake. Leo needs to learn from his mistakes
WHAT’S THIS COLUMN FOR EXACTLY?
So….in case you hadn’t noticed, the theme here at Harpin Manor this season has been “re-imagining”. The logo, the designs, the bells, the whistles, even the domain name has been tinkered with ahead of the new campaign.
Yet the most important change has been to the centrepiece of our content production. For the past 14 seasons, the main focus has been the “match writeup” where I scribbled around 2000 words on the latest Leinster & Ireland outing every week. Now the work I do for that is being switched from written word to spoken and for the foreseeable future it will be our “main podcast”, recorded and published on Sunday evening, that serves to wrap up the action from the weekend on these pages.
I’ve really enjoyed the new challenges since we began back on August 21, producing more pods, publishing video clips on YouTube and Tik Tok to help promote them, and I reckon this week’s wrap on Zebre v Leinster, with the brilliant help and preparation of Messrs Coleman & Mifsud I might add, is very close to the way I want it and I’m very excited about the weeks ahead both from Leinster-rugby-watching and a Harpin’-content-producing perspectives.
Here’s the thing though…I really, really do like the writing. So I’ve come up with this column, which I’m calling 80+, which I’m going to tack on to my post here on the site promoting each pod so I can harp on a host of egg-chasing stuff, some of it to do with the match in question, maybe some thoughts I forgot to bring up on the pod, but also with a wider scope as well.
So that’s what I plan the 80+ column to be, a series of headings on different things that have been on my mind lately. I’ve probably given enough words to explain what the column is, and now it’s time to actually use it for what it’s intended!!!
PLAYER OF THE MATCH
One thing I forgot to ask the lads about in the pod was how they felt about Rhys Ruddock being named Player of the Match by Gordon D’Arcy in the RTÉ commentary box. Obviously I love Rhys and his two tries went a long way to establishing enough of a lead for us to hold onto, but personally I thought it was in our second row where we needed the leadership and when Zebre first got within 6 points of us, IMO it was Ross Molony who really knuckled down and made the right call at the next attacking lineout to put us in a position to get that all-important fifth (and ultimately winning) try. Yes, I know he dropped the restart at 21-0 that kickstarted Zebre’s fightback, but those catches aren’t all down to the guy who is relying on lifters and I have to say overall I’m excited for what this Molony/Jenkins axis can do for us this season, especially in this opening 7-round block of URC matches.
Of course with the final score so close there was always the option to go for a Zebre player and I consulted the lads from the pod via WhatsApp and they agree that while Molony was a choice, the likes of Eden, Gesi and Pelsner from the home side were also in the frame.
THE POINT OF A TRY BONUS
I was delighted when Rich brought up the try bonus point issue on the pod because it’s something I’ve been harpin’ on for a while. As delighted as I was with Leinster’s maximum-point haul on Saturday, when I take the blue googles off I have to ask if we really deserved one? Four tries in the first half is impressive yes, but when you go on to concede a further three down the other end to shrink your lead from 21 down to just 4, I’m not so sure it can be justified.
The way the system works in the Top😺🐴 is that you must score 3 more tries than your opponent which means racking up four tries in a first half isn’t near enough for a BP, you also have to make sure you defend your line right to the 80th minute. It also means the vast majority of losing teams won’t be able to earn one. That may be harsh on Zebre but don’t forget, they also conceded five tries!
It’s just my new way of writing the Top14. Because it’s French, they don’t say “fourteen”, they say “quatorze” so I thought this might get more people saying it at least a bit closer to what it is. My original idea was to make it all graphic by using the cartoon character Top Cat along with a horse but then I realised just how dated a reference that is so best not broadcast my age when I can avoid it!
“THAT CALL BY REYNAL”
Our podcast ended up being over an hour so some of it ended up on the “cutting room floor”, although I did hold on to this clip which was my thoughts on Mathieu Reynal’s decision to give a free kick against the Wallabies’ Bernard Foley at a critical stage of the Bledisloe Cup clash during the week.
In the pod I mentioned our Harpin’ Prediction League, you’ll be hearing a lot about it over the course of the URC campaign. The idea is not so much to finish first (although if you keep tabs on the standings you might be interested in what the league leaders are predicting when it comes to our preview shows) rather to not finish last, for which the punishment is to have to wear The Jersey Of Doom, and since I got the questionable honour last season, it was down to me. I tried to wear it in the preview pod but half of it clashed with the green screen so here you see the one and only time I will post a shot of me wearing it on a Harpin platform, ever. A bet is a bet, after all.
It’s no more Mr Nice Guy when it comes to this season’s league, however…I’m gunning for first now!!! As you can see by the standings after round one I’m not off to a bad start although Tom is the guy to beat.
OUR NEXT HARPIN’
During the week we’re planning a bonus pod where I’ll be finding out all about the Rugby Europe Super Cup and it’s eight clubs, then I’ll be reviewing the last match involving our European opposition Racing 92 as well as Friday’s visitors to the RDS Benetton, keep an eye on TikTok for content there.
Next it will be all eyes on the RDS home opener, with the team announced at lunchtime on Thursday, then our video preview, the usual harpin’ from kickoff to the final whistle and finally our wrap up show on Sunday evening followed by the next 80+ column on the Monday.
Enough to be getting on with I reckon!!! In the meantime, be sure to enjoy your rugby wherever you are. JLP