Dublin: 25°C Thursday 11 August 2022

5 talking points from this weekend's Heineken Cup action

There were four magnificent wins for Connacht, Ulster, Leinster and Munster in Europe over the last two days.

Connacht's Dave McSharry celebrates their stunning win in Toulouse.
Connacht's Dave McSharry celebrates their stunning win in Toulouse.
Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

1. Clean sweep for the provinces

Four from four, and we never doubted it. Well, maybe we did in the build-up to Connacht’s clash with Toulouse, but Pat Lam’s men pulled off one of the great Heineken Cup upsets by winning in the south of France.

That result followed up wins for Leinster and Ulster on Saturday and Munster’s fine victory over Perpignan in Limerick this afternoon. Connacht take pride of place for their success in la ville rose, but this was a wonderful weekend for Irish rugby in general.

2. Leinster demonstrate their credentials

The sheer dominance of Leinster’s victory in Northampton was stunning. There had been some questions as to whether Matt O’Connor was the man to get the eastern province playing free-flowing, attacking rugby but they were quashed with this six-try display.

Leinster provided a platform for their classy backs by blasting the Saints off every single breakdown and winning the vast majority of collisions. If O’Connor’s charges can re-produce this kind of display more regularly, few sides will be able to live with them.

imageGordon D’Arcy had a fine game against the Saints last night. ©INPHO/Billy Stickland.

3. Connacht can compete at this level

All the signs were ominous for Lam’s men. Toulouse’s home record this season has been excellent -  marked repeatedly by attacking bonus points – and Connacht are rock bottom of the Pro12 after a frustrating run of form in recent months.

See Sport

Get closer to the stories that matter with exclusive analysis, insight and debate in The42 Membership

Become a Member

Not many commentators were giving them a hope of even competing in Toulouse, but Connacht produced the kind of performance that makes rugby such a wonderful sport. Despite a budget that is somewhere in the region of 10% of what Toulouse are working off, the impossible happened this evening for the western province.

4. Munster lead at half time

That was the line from Rob Penney and Peter O’Mahony after their 36-8 win over Perpignan at Thomond Park this afternoon. Wise words from the Munster duo, as Perpignan will be an altogether different beast at the Stade Aimé Giral next weekend.

The return of Lifeimi Mafi, amongst others, will be a boost but it is the passionate support of over 16,000 Catalans that will drive USAP to greater things. There were several genuine positives for Penney to take from his side’s success, but Munster’s job is far from done.

imageFelix Jones takes Watisoni Votu of Perpignan along for the trip. ©INPHO/James Crombie.

5. Too easy for Ulster

48-0. It’s not a scoreline you will see in European club rugby’s premier competition too often if you comb back through the records. Treviso were simply awful [one 15-minute spell aside] but Ulster did a professional job of routing the Italians and scoring seven tries.

There were strong individual displays all over the pitch, but that was attributable to the standard of the opposition too. Mark Anscombe will be thrilled to have steamrolled a potentially tricky Treviso side, but he has learned very little about his team from yesterday’s win.

Connacht shock Toulouse to record their greatest ever Heineken Cup win

Penney admits Murray is unlikely to play next weekend

About the author:

Murray Kinsella

Read next: