Heineken Cup Touchlines
Down memory lane: Williams stuns Blues in Ospreys' late, late swoop
Leinster 30 - Ospreys 31
Grand Final Pro12, RDS, May 27, 2012
Leinster were favourites to lift the title but a stunning collapse allowed Shane Williams score a try with his last touch in competitive rugby, Dan Biggar sealing an astonishing win with a touchline conversion.
It was the second time in three years that Leinster lost the domestic blue riband final on their home turf as they failed to match the blistering dismissal of Ulster in the Heineken Cup final just eight days earlier. Mike Ross went off injured, two Leinster props were binned and a testy affair refereed by Romain Poite -- much to Joe Schmidt's chagrin -- ended with uncontested scrums.
Ospreys led 17-9 in the first half and felt they could have had a penalty-try when Heinke van der Merwe was binned for collapsing a scrum on his line; the Welsh side would score 10 late unanswered points to steal it in as many minutes when Nathan White was binned.
Leinster -- Kearney; McFadden, O'Driscoll, D'Arcy, Nacewa; Sexton, Reddan (Cooney 76); Van der Merwe, Cronin (Strauss 50-65), Ross (White 14), Cullen (capt, Thorn 44), Toner, McLaughlin, Jennings (Ryan 74) Heaslip.
Ospreys -- Fussell; Dirksen, Bishop, Beck, Williams; Biggar, Webb (Fotuali'i 54); James (Bevington 63), Hibbard (Baldwin 74), A Jones (Jarvis 74), AW Jones (capt), Evans (King 63), R Jones, Tipuric, Bearman.
ULSTER BOYS OFF THE LEASH
POPPING UP to Ravenhill this week for an all-too-rare visit, it was an eye-opener to see how the magnificent 18,000-seater stadium is accelerating towards completion.
As usual, their media session -- if slightly delayed (tut, tut) -- was a testament to what can be achieved if professional clubs allow their players off the leash rather than tethering them to drearily restrictive press conferences that usually resemble school nativity plays.
Ulster wheeled out their head coach and four players who mingled freely for chats upon any subject -- without the requirement of a busybody poking their noses in as if this was some kind of speed-dating exercise.
Our enduring wish for 2014 is that others take note -- although we are aware that is not always PROs who set the tone, rather the controlling forces above them in the pecking order.
Professional players are (mostly) intelligent, responsible grown-ups -- they should be treated like such. After all, ultimately, it is the paying public who miss out in the long run.
TWEET OF THE WEEK
They said 8 weeks, I said 6, I did 4. There is always ways to push the limitations of the human body. Thanks for the support! #Church
The simple anatomy of the most astonishing injury comeback since Tommy Bowe defied the medics during last summer's Lions tour. Hats off to player and Leinster rehab guru Stephen Smith.
TIGERS OPEN FLOOD GATE
AND SO the Leinster transfer saga rumbles on with star players whose protracted delay in sorting out their futures is veering into the realms of narcissism. We spoke to Geordan Murphy this week and his matter-of-fact relating of the loss of one of Leicester's big stars, Toby Flood, was a real eye-opener.
Murphy admitted Flood's intentions were known before they became public and, after a hasty Flood denial via Twitter once the press got wind of it, Leicester dispatched the matter in one afternoon, on a match day.
Flood was giving up his World Cup 2015 dream. And yet he didn't need an endless list of denials, airport-hopping and elaborate hide-and-seek routines to hoodwink his loyal fans. Do the fans of Irish players -- who have helped to pay their handsome wages -- merit a similar level of respect?
QUOTE OF THE WEEK
"He was hopeless all the match. He is always hopeless"
-- Toulon's mild-mannered coach Bernard Laporte has clearly become mellower with age as he reflects on a shock defeat to Bernard Jackman's Grenoble (as they will forever more be termed).