Munster Rugby are still in the mix. A hard fought 10-3 win over a Saracens who refused to go away leaves Munster Rugby’s Heineken Champions Cup aspirations every much in the balance. The weather dominated this fixture. Hawkeye Sidekick reflects.
Blame it on the weatherman!
Weather was ominous before kick off, opening period gale and then the heavy rains came in the second half. Second half was a proverbial washout. Both sides were incredibly aggressive in defensive sets throughout. No scores in the second half, no surprise.
Officiating head shot call consistency?
Officiating consistency. Botha red card vs. Maro Itoje off his feet shoulder charge on Mike Haley at the breakdown in the opening period. Itoje got off. Both technically head hits. Both red cards. Zero consistency.
Attacking game plan evolves
Munster Rugby. Positivity in attacking lines in that opening period. Hitting the inside line paid dividends but that final wayward pass or knock on was unfortunately not far away. Scannell and Farrell drove up ball but precious quick ruck ball to work with.
O’Mahony try a perfect example of good attacking lines and composure. You can see the progression but against opposition like Saracens and Racing 92, weak points exposed. Good to highlight this far along in the season.
Munster Rugby back three impress
Back three were very threatening. Earls and Conway line break ability. Haley continues to impress, great attacking lines from deep particularly in that opening half. Earls brilliant with some line breaks.
Half back cohesion tweaks required
I am feeling for Conor Murray at present, trying unbelievably hard but poor ruck ball presentation as well as a few delayed passes from the scrum half put pressure on his game.
With Mathewson gone, looking at the options as a couple of fans suggested that Murray be benched. Mccarthy on the bench is still an unknown quantity. Neil Cronin solid. Craig Casey the speedster, impact off the bench to accelerate play but inexperienced. Murray continues to play and hopefully the ruck ball presentation improves next week for him to elevate his display.
JJ attacking the line well but the kicking game variation in open play for me was not there enough to unsettle Saracens defensively. Opening period demanded that Saracens be pinged back, kicking to corners at times but it was mostly hit the line and launch Scannell and Farrell.
Front Row deliver solid cameos
Munster Rugby pack worked so hard. James Cronin and Stephen Archer in particular came to the party. Cronin put in a massive shift, seventy minutes and thought his breakdown work was excellent. Scrum went well.
Line out continues to be inconsistent
Line out continues to be an issue. Weather atrocious but there was a nervousness around it again. Indecisive calls prompting Saracens to look to attack the line out at different times.
Saracens get what they wanted
Saracens. Tough side regardless of personnel on duty. Pack were incredibly physical. Skelton and Itoje ball carrying and line out were immense.
Back row was combative. Earl, Isekiwe and Jackson Wray (man mountain). Barritt immense, ball carrying was excellent, platform created. Loser point. Mission accomplished. Squad reshuffle next weekend. Munster Rugby beware!