Heineken Cup Round 4: 5 things we learned

1. A lot can change in a week
Not many were pinning their hopes on a Northampton Saints win away at Leinster, especially after their embarrassing defeat the week before, but they were dominant throughout while the Irish province were laden with errors. Saints were more physical and played the territorial game better, and George North’s sixth-minute try meant that Leinster were always chasing a result. The result now means that Saints are in with a shout of topping the pool or at least going through as one of the second-placed teams with the most points.

2. The best games don’t have to be high scoring
Montpellier and Leicester played out a cracking game in the South of France on Sunday, but we had to wait until the 50th minute to see any points on the scoreboard. It was the complete opposite of last week’s fixture but both teams threw everything at the opposition defence, only to be met by sturdy and resilient hits. In the end it was Niki Goneva who sealed the game and crushed Montpellier hearts with a try in the last minute.

3. No amount of Lions can save you
Racing Metro had four Lions starting for them against Harlequins but it just shows that money can’t always buy you a good performance. Dan Lydiate played poorly and was eventually replaced by Bernard le Roux and fellow Welshmen Mike Phillips and Jamie Roberts were not as influential as they should have been. Johnny Sexton is slowly getting there in a Métro shirt, but it takes time to get used to a new team around you and unfortunately for Racing, their time isn’t this season.

4. Glasgow’s European woe
We all know that Glasgow’s pool is one of the strongest in this year’s Heineken Cup – Cardiff, Toulon and Exeter – but that shouldn’t be an excuse for their poor showing this season. They have only lost two games in the PRO12 and are in third place but when it comes to the European tournament, they are shooting themselves in the foot. They are in bottom place and they have let themselves down with poor handling and a lack of finishing with what looks to have stemmed from over-confidence. They can technically still get into the play-offs but they need to get the full 10 points available and hope the other teams pretty much draw 0-0.

5. Making some noise on the road
I must admit I didn’t watch every game this weekend so I can’t comment on everyone, but from what I saw, the supporters that travelled from England to France made a right racket that everyone should be proud of. Around 300 Leicester fans occupied a small corner of the Montpellier stadium and were just as loud, if not louder, than their opposition supporters. Toulon also came under vocal threat from the West Country when an estimated 1,000 fans came to support Exeter Chiefs and produced an atmosphere most stadiums would be jealous of. Good on you all!

By Calum Gillon (@C_Gillon)

Photo by: Patrick Khachfe / Onside Images

7 thoughts on “Heineken Cup Round 4: 5 things we learned

  1. I’d spin the Glasgow mention the other way, obviously. The Blues are not as bad as their Pro 12 level indicates and won’t be at the bottom of the group as most were predicting. We’re still a developing squad and we signed The Chief at the right time (after the Exeter debacle) to make a difference in Europe. When we have played Glasgow in the Pro 12 we were unlucky not to win, looks like the luck went the other way this time.

  2. More so in the Scotstoun fixture but the referee had a huge bearing on both games. It does not hide the fact Glasgow should have fronted up with more accuracy but inconsistent refereeing certainly does not help. Time to get back on track against Treviso & then the double header against Edinburgh.

  3. Well, and also italian teams don’t have anything to do in H Cup, as both teams are at 0 point after 4 games…

  4. A bit of an Anglo-centric take on things.

    1. Northampton are not getting out of their pool. Don’t be silly.

    5. I heard next to nothing from the Leicester fans, having watched the whole Leicester-Montpellier game. If you want to hear an away support and team take over a ground, watch the Ulster-Montpellier pool match. Ulster beat Montpellier’s best team (as opposed to the second-stringers that Leicester laboured over), and silenced the crowd while doing it.

  5. Wow, Stephen. Thanks for your hugely incisive summation. Remind me to tune in to your next riveting post. You certainly made the ‘anglo-centric’ article seem very tedious and one-sided with your pan European ‘piece de resistance’.
    Interesting to see how Toulon go in HC this season as other French teams have struggled. Exeter are a good honest, hard team, but not the best barometer.
    Ditto Munster, has the slumbering giant woken up again or were Perpignan shite?
    Finally Irish rugby looks in rude health. Looking fwd to a good 6 nations. Think it could be an irish v Welsh shootout.

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