The first game of the night was Connacht against Cardiff. Both teams ended up surprised here I think. Cardiff have a team full of international caps, but still went down to the Irish outfit 18-16. It’s a great boost to the western province after the hammering they received the week before.
The Leinster match was something that I called right. It was a gritty affair, with all of Leinster’s points coming from the boot of Jonathan Sexton. It turned out to be enough to win 18-11 against the Ospreys, and it also put them top of the league.
Ulster started well against Edinburgh, scoring two tries in 21 minutes. But the Scottish team fought back, scoring 9 points in the second half to win 16-13. Out-half Ian Humphries will be ruing his missed chances – the two missed conversions would have won the game.
The Munster match was a poor game from the men in red. They narrowly defeated Scarlets 22-20, and if it weren’t for Denis Hurley breaking a tackle in the dying minutes to score a try, Munster would have been looking at another defeat.
This weekend sees the first all-Irish clash of the weekend as Connacht take on Ulster on Friday night (ko 8pm). This match could go either way. Connacht have showed some fighting spirit to hold out against Cardiff last week, whilst Ulster didn’t score a single point in the second half against Edinburgh. I’m going to back Connacht on this one, as the home advantage will also help them.
Leinster travel to Edinburgh on Saturday (ko 6.30pm) and some of the bigger names are back in the squad. Lions Luke Fitzgerald, Jamie Heaslip and Rob Kearney join the squad for the first time this season. With a strengthening squad, I can only see Leinster winning.
Sunday sees Munster entertain Dragons, who are both on the back of wins (Dragons beat Warriors 30-19 last week). This game may also see the return of some of Munster’s Lions contingent, with Keith Earls, Paul O’Connell, Ronan O’Gara and Donncha O’Callaghan all included in the squad. Also included is the biggest signing of the summer – South African centre and recent Tri-Nations winner Jean de Villiers. Whether he’ll get to play or not is another story.