The old cliche is that you can never safely predict too much in the Heineken Cup, and it was reassuring to see that it still holds true this week. Just when it looked as though most issues were virtually settled with two rounds to go, Quins did the unthinkable and won in Toulouse. It’s not the first supposedly unbreachable citadel this young side has sacked, and it underlines their credentials as a coming force after they appeared to have been scuppered last week. Here’s our latest good week/bad week…
Who else? Quins
A remarkable victory for a remarkable team. When they lost to Toulouse last week it looked like a case of ‘Welcome to the Big League, chaps’. To turn it around in Toulouse’s own patch a week on was a feat you simply had to stand and applaud. This may be a year too early for them to win, but they are a team nobody will fancy playing in the knockout stages, for which they now look set to qualify for, either as winners or as runners-up. It also underlined the importance of having a world class kicker. Which brings us on to…
While ROG has been grabbing the headlines with his timely drop-goals, Sexton has been efficiently getting on with the business of playing brilliantly. He bailed Leinster out in Montpellier, ran the show against Glasgow and then delivered back-to-back man of the match performances against Bath and has racked up 63 points in four games. On Saturday, he showcased the full range of his talents, and was a dream to watch.
In poll position in Pool Five and looking in decent nick having done the double over the Ospreys. Not the flashiest of teams, but they do have a consistent kicker in Owen Farrell and a belligerant set of forwards, which are two of the basic requirements to qualify as contenders. Creativity is in short supply, with a somewhat predictable backline (Ooooooohhh Brad Barritt was literally centimetres over the gainline there!), but there’s always Schalk Brits to provide a spark.
Blind Dave Pearson
Yes, it’s Blind Dave’s second appearance in our Bad Week section, and while his first was for bewildering us with reasoning we couldn’t really understand, this is for one of the single most knuckleheaded decisions in recent times. You know the one, the blatantly obvious Scarlets try that he just walked away from and went back to give them an attacking scrum. Had they not scored from said scrum, there would have been serious questions asked. It was a bizarre moment.
Lordy. Tomas had actually impressed a little on his recent cameos but this was back to the 2010/11 vintage. Munster were totally in control until he came on, and promptly fell on to the back foot. At one stage, his back-and-across crabbing saw him trapped metres behind the gainline and a penalty followed. He was then extrmely lucky when his ill-judged grubber went out to touch off a Scarlets boot late in the match.
How much heartbreak can a team take? Strangely, Connacht have saved their best performances for away matches in the competition, and were five minutes from a famous victory over Gloucester until nothing so complicated as a missed first-up tackle let in a late try. It must be hard to take for a fanbase that so seldom has anything to cheer. Connacht are the anti-Munster – a team that simply doesn’t know how to win.