Heineken Cup Round 1: 5 things we learned


1. Toulon look unplayable

Defending champions Toulon were in a different class on Sunday, sweeping aside Glasgow Warriors in the first half and although Glasgow came back strongly in the second, they were never going to catch the French superstars. They were 34-0 up at half time and the way they through the ball about to find gaps in the defence was just a joy to behold. The centre partnership of Matt Giteau and Maxime Mermoz was outstanding, as were Chris Masoe and Ali Williams and let’s be honest, any team that can take off Jonny Wilkinson and bring on Freddie Michalak are going to be up there at the end of the tournament.

2. League form isn’t everything

Edinburgh are in bottom place in the PRO12 and Castres are in 11th in the Top 14 so it’s safe to say that visits from Munster and Northampton were not what either team wanted. Yet here we are a couple of days later and both teams have won against the odds. Greig Laidlaw was at his inspirational best for the Scotsmen, kicking 19 points, and Saints found themselves outmuscled in France. Here’s hoping both teams can now carry on that sort of form in the league.

3. Gatland can’t keep ignoring Hook

It’s soon going to be decision time for Warren Gatland as he looks to give somebody the Welsh number 10 shirt. Recent first choice Dan Biggar played poorly at the weekend and hasn’t been his best in the league, and Rhys Patchell’s form has been indifferent. The smart money would be on Rhys Priestland who looks back to his best after a long injury layoff, but James Hook has been ripping up the Top 14 and he was inspirational against Gloucester. He’s experienced, can organise a backline and he’s a great kicker. Everything Gatland is looking for.

4. Scarlets’ Williams are a bit of alright

Three Williams, three outstanding tries for the Scarlets against Quins; Rhodri finished off a great team move and he outshone his opposite man Danny Care all day, Scott scored a superb solo effort and he is surely now Wales’ first choice 12 after Jamie Roberts’ injury and young flyer Jordan created a try out of nothing. Time for the Williams boys to all get Wales call-ups?

5. Dion Berryman should actually be called Dion Superman

I’m not going to explain much about this because words just don’t do it justice. If you haven’t already just watch the video below and you’ll see what I mean.

By Calum Gillon (@C_Gillon)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

5 thoughts on “Heineken Cup Round 1: 5 things we learned

  1. Hook isn’t doing anything he wasn’t already doing when Gatland was previously ignoring him. I can’t see him getting a call – Priestland and Biggar are the main options and will remain so.

    Can’t wait to see the Ospreys pack + 10, the Scarlets centres and the Blues back three (more or less) run out for Wales.

    1. Can’t believe you’ve dropped North! The Blues back 3 must be something really special!

      I expected Ospreys to really take it to Leinster upfront, was really surprised to see how well Leinster went at scrum time. Is Adam Jones less dominant under the new rules, or was this just a blip?

      Thought Priestland looked really good, do you think he can get the starting shirt back?

      1. Ha, poetic licence – it didn’t sound as good with “… and Saints winger and Bayonne scrum half…”

        Anyway, with the shenanigans that Mallinder is playing we might not have access to him for full autumn – but in that case I suspect we’ll see Williams getting his debut against Aus.

      2. I think Priestland will get the shirt if he can repeat performance next weekend, especially as likely that the centres and possibly even scrum half will be Scarlets. Gats really rates Priestland especially as someone who can get the big wings and centres into the play.

        I think you’ve got a point about Adam, I thought the same myself in early season. The new rules are reducing the hit and emphasising the arm wrestle. Adam might not be the force he was under that. However the Scarlets tight head had a brilliant time on Saturday … until the idiot did what he did.

        1. Jones always seemed to me to be the absolute master of getting his opponent in a disadvantageous position on the hit, so I did wonder how the new rules would suit him.

          Samson Lee just looks a beast though, not someone I would want an argument with.

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