Category: Archive

Munster, perfect in Euro rugby, blast French side

February 16, 2011

By Staff Reporter

By Martin Breheny

DUBLIN — Munster’s spirited efforts to raise the currency value of Irish rugby after a dismal World Cup continues to gather impressive momentum. They made it

four victories from four games in the European Cup last Saturday when they ground the French side Colomiers into submission at Musgrave Park, Cork, and now top their group.

While it seems a mere formality that they will advance to the quarterfinals next month, the wheels have crashed off the Ulster wagon. The defending European champions have lost all four games in their group and are now out of contention for a quarterfinal spot.

It has all gone horribly wrong for Ulster coach Harry Williams and his squad, who set the scene ablaze last January by lifting the Euro trophy in dazzling style. Ulster have been quite awful this season. They lost 20-3 to Llanelli on Saturday and have failed to score a single try in 320 minutes of European action.

In contrast, Munster have been racking up the tries and they added three more on Saturday as they marched to a 23-5 win over the French visitors. Keith Wood, whose form this season has been sensational, got in for two of

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them, while Dominic Crotty scored the third.

Munster have scored 121 points in their four European games so far, which is quite an achievements against a group which also includes Saracens, Pontypridd and Colomiers. Led by inspiring captain Mick Galwey, they are playing a determined, passionate game, laced with plenty individual skill, and there is a growing sense of optimism that they can emulate Ulster and win the trophy later in the season.

Out-half, Ronan O’Gara, has been giving his international hopes real nourishment with a series of adventurous performances in contrast to David Humphreys, who has been a long way below his best with Ulster. Humphreys went into the season as Ireland’s No. 1 out-half, but O’Gara has improved so rapidly that he may well get the nod when the selectors name the Irish side to take on England in the first six-nations game in February.

Meanwhile, Leinster stormed back into contention for a quarterfinal place when they beat Stade Francais (23-22) at Donnybrook last Friday. All four teams in the group now have four points.

Connacht’s poor season goes from bad to worse to awful. They were hammered 41-15 by the French side Toulon, in the European Shield on Saturday and are bottom of their group and out of contention for a quarterfinal place.

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