Healy hit disrupts Leinster's flow
LEINSTER coach Joe Schmidt believes the incident after 62 minutes which led to Cian Healy being forced off the pitch with a neck injury at Lansdowne Road on Saturday played a part in the home side losing focus and allowing Bath to cross for three tries.
Healy was picked up and flipped in a tackle that, at the very least, qualifies as reckless play and Schmidt believes it had an unsettling effect on his team-mates. Referee Romain Poite spoke to Schmidt afterwards and explained that "he did not believe it was deliberate", but it could still have repercussions for the English side.
"Cian wasn't right afterwards," said Schmidt. "He's pretty sore now, we think it's only bruising but he landed awkwardly and that in itself inhibited him after that and then there were a couple of guys who probably were just a little distracted and frustrated by it.
"As a result of that, it doesn't take much against a good side for one or two guys not to be there, suddenly there is a hole in the line or someone is up out of the line and you can undo your defensive pattern.
"It was really disappointing," added Schmidt.
It is in the hands of the independent citing commissioner now, but Bath may want to take example from London Irish who conducted an internal hearing after Chris Hala'ufia was cited for a dangerous tackle on Racing Metro full-back Gaetan Germain.
The Exiles fined the Tongan back-row (just back after a seven-week ban for a high tackle) an undisclosed amount to be paid to charity and suspended him for six weeks. A commendable stance by London Irish and one that other clubs could do well to follow.
'banker' goes missing
International Rugby Newsletter
It may seem churlish to pick on a small Leinster error on an evening of brilliance by the champions, but, if you like your line-outs, the five-metre effort on 19 minutes was a hair-tearer.
Bath were only 10-6 behind at that point and enjoying plenty of possession, so there was pressing need for Leinster to clear their lines. Five metres out from your own line, you need a 'banker ball' -- the call with the lowest risk and most consistent source of possession.
Leinster called the ball to Jamie Heaslip in the middle and with Richardt Strauss' throw a little flat, Ryan Caldwell got up and scooped the ball away. The question is this: why the hell would you throw low to a 6' 3" back-row on your own line, when you could hit a 6' 10" second-row at the front instead?
Devin Toner had a big game in the second-row and was un-contestable out of touch -- when Toner is on the pitch and line-out ball is vital, Leinster should always aim for the stars.
time to sink 'boaters
More heartbreak for Connacht who produced a performance of bravery and skill at Kingsholm, only to be denied the victory their efforts deserved when Johnny May ran over for the winning score four minutes from time.
May was understandably euphoric at being responsible for winning a game Gloucester thought they had lost, but that is no excuse for pumping the air, Chris Ashton-style, as he went over. Then we had Dave Atwood's celebratory dive towards the end of Bath's Christmas stuffing in Dublin. Showboating should come with mandatory fines.
Try of the weekend
Connacht's brilliant offloading effort in the first half against Gloucester, started by Frank Murphy and finished by Tiernan O'Halloran, was pretty special.
Tackle of the weekend
Munster's Johne Murphy did really well to prevent Jonathan Edwards crashing over at Thomond Park yesterday, but Donncha O'Callaghan's jersey-grabbing dunking of Rhys Priestland as the Scarlets sought a winning play was a powerful statement from the returning second-row.
Quote of the weekend
"I would never accept it (failing to qualify) until it is not possible. We need to win our last two games against Cardiff and Edinburgh, and Racing to beat them both."
-- London Irish coach Toby Booth, a triumph of positivity over reality.
Tweet of the weekend
"Little flurry of snow, kids excited, Dad even more so! I think they are old enough now to be told the danger of yellow snow ... ."
-- Former England captain Will Carling takes a break from watching the rugby
number of the weekend
14 Munster's points differential after four hard-fought wins by two, three, three and six-point margins.
'you cannot be serious'
decision of the weekend
Poite sin-binning Leo Cullen for a 'slap' that was on the Bonnie Langford side of menacing was ridiculously over the top.
coach of the weekend
Conor O'Shea (Harlequins)
Michael Bradley is doing superbly well bringing an average Edinburgh side to the summit of Pool 2 but O'Shea masterminding a win in Toulouse despite a spate of injuries was remarkable.
Puzzler of the weekend
Watching the drive of the Munster forwards, Leinster's all-round excellence and Welsh sides bottling it raises the issue of how did Ireland lose that World Cup quarter-final?
Team of the weekend
R Kearney (Leinster); T Williams (Harlequins), M Tuilagi (Leicester), F McFadden (Leinster), L Fitzgerald (Leinster); J Sexton (Leinster), C Murray (Munster); A Jacobsen (Edinburgh), R Best (Ulster), BJ Botha (Munster); D O'Callaghan (Munster), D Toner (Leinster); C Robshaw (Harlequins), J Burger (Saracens), T Waldrom (Leicester).