Well, Leinster weren’t able to do the double, and Ospreys made it 3 in a row, in a pulsating Rabo12 final, at the RDS, last Saturday. Ospreys legend Shane Williams scored in the last minutes, to win the game, 31-30.
It was a great game. Much different to the Leinster/Ulster game of the previous week (not to say that that match was bad). The 2 teams were more even in this game. Leinster couldn’t put Ospreys away like they did against Ulster.
Ospreys got first points on the board (after Sexton missed his first kick, which were turn out to cost the team dearly). Leinster responded with a great try, and from then on the 2 teams traded the advantage.
The 2 stars of the show were wings Isa Nacewa and Shane Williams. Nacewa scored a wonderful try off a Sexton restart. He got man of the match, and participated all over the field.
Williams was a close second. Amazingly playing in his last competitive rugby game (he’ll be turning out for the Barbarians), he marked the occasion with 2 tries, the second to clinch the game. He’s actually the 3rd highest try scorer in international rugby and his wonderful style of play will be missed.
It was one game too far for Leinster. After giving their all against Ulster to win the Heineken, they couldn’t reach the same heights to beat Ospreys, though to be fair to the players they never gave up. They weren’t helped by the officiating.
2 Leinster players were sent to the sin-bin, which means that Leinster spent 20 minutes of the match with a player down. The scrum was major bone of contention, with the ref penalising Leinster for constantly bringing it down.
From my vantage point I don’t think Ospreys were completely innocent, and I think it would have been fairer to send a player from each team off. Still, the calls don’t always go your way, and all credit to Ospreys, they won on the day.
The Leinster players now head down to New Zealand for Ireland’s 3 match tour against the All Blacks. They meet up with the rest of the Ireland squad, who had a game against the Barbarians, on Tuesday.
It was another close result, with the Irish team again on the losing side, 29-28. The game was a lot more competitive than matches against the Barbarians usually are. The Babas were led by former Ireland and Munster lock, Mick O’Driscoll.
Isa Nacewa, amazingly, also played for the babas, 3 days after putting in a man of the match performance for Leinster. Former Leinster great, Felipe Contemponi, also featured. The standout performer for Ireland was Ulster wing, Craig Gilroy.
The squad now head down to New Zealand for the June series. It’s a strong squad with some injury concerns. Paul O’Connell has a final fitness test on Friday, and Isaac Boss and Stephen Ferris have already been ruled out.
Jaimie Heaslip, Cian Healy and Sean O’Brien are also carrying injuries. Coupled with that, the season has been going since the World Cup, which is almost a year of competitive matches. So most of the players won’t be at 100%.
IRELAND SUMMER TOUR SQUAD (New Zealand 2012):
Darren Cave (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster)
Gordon D’Arcy (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Keith Earls (Young Munster/Munster)
Rob Kearney (UCD/Leinster)
Paul Marshall (Belfast Harlequins/Ulster) *
Fergus McFadden (Old Belvedere/Leinster)
Conor Murray (Garryowen/Munster)
Brian O’Driscoll (UCD/Leinster) (capt)
Ronan O’Gara (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Eoin Reddan (Lansdowne/Leinster)
Jonathan Sexton (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Andrew Trimble (Ballymena/Ulster)
Simon Zebo (Cork Constitution/Munster) *
Rory Best (Banbridge/Ulster)
Sean Cronin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Declan Fitzpatrick (Dungannon/Ulster) *
Cian Healy (Clontarf/Leinster)
Jamie Heaslip (Naas/Leinster)
Chris Henry (Ballymena/Ulster)
Ronan Loughney (Galwegians/Connacht) *
Kevin McLaughlin (St. Mary’s College/Leinster)
Mike McCarthy (Buccaneers/Connacht)
Sean O’Brien (Clontarf/Leinster)
Donncha O’Callaghan (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Peter O’Mahony (Cork Constitution/Munster)
Mike Ross (Clontarf/Leinster)
Donnacha Ryan (Shannon/Munster)
Mike Sherry (Garryowen/Munster) *
Dan Tuohy (Ballymena/Ulster)
Brett Wilkinson (Galwegians/Connacht) *