Leicester and Northampton set for LV Cup Final Showdown
Amid the Six Nations hype, the Anglo-Welsh cup returned and it was semi-final weekend. The first battle for a place in the final was on Friday night at the Recreation Ground where Leicester travelled to face Bath. George Ford was the star of the game for Leicester; the 18-year-old’s boot kept reliable and made up the majority of the points for Leicester.
His opposite number, Tom Heathcote, looked equally as strong for most of the game but in the end crumbled under the pressure of the occasion and missed crucial kicks late on. Neither side dominated strongly but in the end it was Leicester who prevailed and a first half try from Graham Kitchener got the momentum going after taking advantage of a Bath handling error. Bath’s came later on from Lee Mears who bundled over from close range.
The final result was 16-17, seeing Leicester narrowly through to the final of the competition next week.
Northampton’s win was a little a more conclusive. The Scarlets were the dominant side early on and Dominic Day went over under a pile of forwards but his attempt was ruled out by the video referee. Play turned into Northampton’s favour after that as Alex Waller scored and later on Scott Armstrong scored a try which was really the turning point for the Saints.
Both kickers were reliable but in the end it was Stephen Myler’s Northampton side that played well all-round, Stephen Jones’ Scarlets unlucky to be denied a spot in the final. In the end, Northampton won with a score line of 27-12, not really a fair really reflection of Scarlets’ game.
Aironi stun Munster in only Pro 12 game of the weekend
Italian minnows Aironi shocked Munster at the Stadio Zaffanella in the only RaboDirect Pro 12 match of the weekend. When Cattina crossed the line for the Italians and Orquera kicked a penalty a few minutes after early in the first half, Munster realised what had hit them.
They failed to recover from this early hiccup, Pizarro grabbing a converted try before the break. All that Munster could manage was a sole penalty from Scott Deasy leaving them trailing 15-3 at the break.
A converted penalty try from Munster was sandwiched by two further Orquera penalties. Once Munster began to realise the errors of their ways they turned on the heat and Mafi scored a late try that Keatley converted but it was all in vain as Aironi conquered the Irish giants by a winning margin of 21 points to 17.
Brumbies edge victory in thriller with Cheetahs
Henry Speight crossed after ten minutes for the Brumbies and Willie Le Roux responded for the Cheetahs just before the end of the first quarter. Both tries were converted and after an earlier penalty from Goosen for the Cheetahs put them in a narrow 10-7 lead. Both kickers added further penalties for their sides and at the break the Cheetahs just had the upper-hand, leading 13-10.
Brumbies became even more reliant on the boot of Christian Lealiifano in the second period of the game but they were hit with a blow when De Bruyn crossed the line in the first minute of the half. The Brumbies clawed back and Pat McCabe scored just after the 50 minute mark. From then on in it was left to Lealiifano to steal the victory for the hosts at the Canberra Stadium and with nine points, the majority scored in the last five minutes, the fly-half won it for the Brumbies by 24 points to 23.
Reds are too strong as Rebels narrowly miss out on win
Two first half penalties in Brisbane from the Melbourne Rebels kicker James O’Connor put the hosts in a crucial lead over reigning Super Rugby champions the Reds.
Dom Shipperley scored the game’s only try and won the match for the hosts with his 55 minute score. Fly-half Harris added six of his own to match O’Connor’s points but one crucial decision for the Rebels fly-half to kick for touch instead of kick a penalty goal was at the centre of visiting side’s failures and was a crucial decision. The final result in Brisbane was 11-6 to the Reds.
The other results of the weekend included the Chiefs beating the Crusaders 24-19, the Hurricanes thrashing the Force 46-19, the Waratahs narrowly losing to the Highlanders 18-17, the Sharks taming the Lions 32-20 and the Blues bringing down the Blues with a 29-23 win.
The Try of the Weekend goes to Graham Kitchener of Leicester Tigers for his alertness when he capitalized upon a Bath handling mishap to score the opening try of Friday night’s LV Cup semi-final.
Hero of the weekend goes to George Ford of Leicester Tigers for keeping a cool head at the Rec and helping his side get to the LV Cup final.
The Villains of the weekend are the Western Force who, after a strong performance against Super Rugby Champions the Reds, were destroyed by the Hurricanes who scored six tries in total.
by Sam Durham