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The Wraparound from Rugby HQ - Week 27

Saturday, January 28, 2012

Munster and Simon Zebo dispatch Northampton Saints

A Simon Zebo hat-trick for Munster signalled the end of the Northampton Saints’ European journey as the Irish side beat them 51-36 at Stadium MK a week ago. Many of you requested highlights so here they are, in HD.

Munster’s win over Saints meant they completed their group campaign with six out of six wins for the first time in their history, moving to 25 points which takes them top of the quarter final seedings, one point ahead of champtions Leinster.

Captain Paul O’Connell feels they still have a long way to go, but was pleased with the performance considering the pressure they were under come scrumtime.

"That 10-minute period just after half-time gave us a real lift. To be under such pressure in the scrum and still come out on top is testament to the strength and heart of the team," he said. 

"It was a very good performance. That has been coming for a while. We've been very close and it was very satisfying to see the back line finishing off a few moves. It's right up there because it came against a good side away from home at the business end of the Heineken Cup.

"Last year didn't go our way, but we've had a bit of luck along the way this season and worked very hard to go six from six. We've proved nothing yet though - we've just come out of our pool and won nothing. We've still got a bit of a way to go to get up to the standard of Toulouse and Leinster."

Munster face Ulster in the next round on the 8th April. Do you think Munster will go all the way?

Posted by Rugbydump at 11:26 am | View Comments (30)

Viewing 30 comments

Chris January 28, 2012 3:35 pm

What a game this was. Spectacular

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johndoe January 28, 2012 3:36 pm

Finally, a real speedster for Ireland. I didn't notice during the match, but in that first break by Zebo which the ref stops, Zebo completely burns Foden (who goes for the ankle tap and misses). Didn't realise just how fast he was.

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johndoe January 28, 2012 3:38 pm

Actually, it was Elliot. Still, he outran him with ease.

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POCandROG January 28, 2012 3:48 pm

Keith Earls ad a great game to,and not to mention James Caughlin

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johndoe January 28, 2012 3:49 pm

Also, at 1.20, look who pops up first - Hartley. And Number 1 (can't spell his name) is going completely sideways. He doesn't even attempt to go straight or bind. I'm a bit fed up of them scrummaging illegally and never, ever being penalised for it. It's so obvious. I thought Poite was meant to be a scrum specialist but he gives them a penalty try. I don't understand how they are repeatedly let off the hook.

The second penalty try was a much better scrum though. Have to give them that.

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DW January 28, 2012 6:28 pm

Looked like a great game!

By the way... how slowly does Will Greenwood talk when he's commentating ;)

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Huh!! the 3rd January 31, 2012 1:21 pm

Greenwood is a great analyist but his commentating isn't at the same standard.

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Zavala January 28, 2012 7:14 pm

Zebo's first try should have been pulled back. The pass to him is clearly forward, by about a yard. Some forward passes are 50/50 but that was a mile forward. Notwithstanding that decision, Munster showed why they are perennial contenders with a win against a team with a much superior scrum. Not often you get two penalty tries.

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johndoe January 28, 2012 8:50 pm

Ah, right. Not sure how fast he is actually.

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johndoe January 28, 2012 8:52 pm

Sorry, meant to say that to jumping04. Pass looks fine to me. He is ahead of Zebo when he tackles and he is falling forward as he passes. I certainly don't think it left out of his hands forward (it may have moved towards the goal line, but I don't think it was a forward pass). Wouldn't mind a slomo replay and a different angle though.

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Reality January 28, 2012 10:04 pm

Come on now. Let's take off our red-tinted glasses. I was delighted when he scored that try but Hurley's pass was absolutely a mile forward. I mean at the instant it left Hurley's hands Zebo was already ahead of him. And he had been tackled so his momentum had been slowed down greatly, so you can't use the backwards in relation to the movement of the player argument.

I'm interested by your scrum theory though. Tongahuia or however it's spelt was very poor at scrummaging in the world cup against New Zealand at least, but somehow for Northampton he always cleans up. And in the final last year they were all over Leinster and then Leinster changed their technique after half time and suddenly they were on top. It does make you wonder if there's some skullduggery going on.

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johndoe January 29, 2012 12:46 pm

Not a Munster fan. What I know for certain is that you cannot tell for certain if that was technically a forward pass or not. Anyway, no need to get to worried over that. They were 5 points clear anyway and forward or not, a skillful pass which the ref allowed.

Skullduggery? Certainly. Just watch the video and there's one example right there. Most of there scrums are like that. They just don't put up most scrums in highlights so you have to watch the actual match usually.

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Reality January 29, 2012 2:31 pm

I'm not a Munster fan because I can recognise that Munster make mistakes and aren't perfect? Ok then, Munster are great. They have a great scrum and a wonderful backline, and their poor performance this season until this match was simply a ruse designed to get everyone to underestimate them. Their outhalf is a tackling machine and their fullback isn't the least talented rugby player I've ever seen in my life.

Now am I a Munster fan?

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Reality January 29, 2012 2:39 pm

And by the way, I don't mean to make a big deal out of this, but you say that you can't tell for certain if the pass was forward or not. Aside from the arguments I've already put forward, look at Hurley's body position when he passes. If you're passing to the left you need to have your right shoulder back and left forward, in order to give yourself the space to throw the ball. At the very least your shoulders need to be square. But Hurley has his left shoulder very much forward when passing, meaning that it was physically impossible for him to pass backwards, because his body was in the way, and so he had to throw it forward.

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Reality January 29, 2012 2:40 pm

Sorry, I mean t to say, "If you're passing to the left, you need to have your right shoulder forward and left back".

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johndoe January 29, 2012 7:38 pm

I'm not a Munster fan, but thanks for that unnecessary, useless, sarcastic comment. If it was a mistake I'd see it. Seems to me like you just don't like them. I've seen many a person bitter about Munser.

That is not correct. If you extend your arm as the player did, then a legal pass is possible.

Anyway, I had a closer look and here is a moment the ball is released: The lines may be slightly off, but they're fairly close. Notice that Zebo brings his left hand (the further forward hand) back to secure the ball in his right hand in the video. That would suggest that the ball was actually released slightly backwards.

Also, just in case you are not aware:

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johndoe January 29, 2012 7:41 pm

Meant to say if it was a mistake, I'd say it. There were plenty in there for both sides. Had to laugh at POC's joke of a pass.

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johndoe January 29, 2012 7:44 pm

Not sure if what I wrote about the left hand is clear. But basically, the ball touches the right hand first (the hand further behind) and brings his left hand back to keep the ball secure in his hands.

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Reality January 29, 2012 9:32 pm

Ok there's been a bit of a misunderstanding. I thought when you said 'Not a Munster fan' as the first thing, you were saying that I wasn't a Munster fan because I claimed that the try was forward. Anyway, now that that's cleared up I suppose we can just agree about the scrum thing, and agree to disagree about the pass.

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johndoe January 29, 2012 10:33 pm

Well, clearly you aren't a Munster fan. I make a reasonable observation, certainly a more accurate one than Hurley's pass "absolutely a mile forward" and you jump on the "red-tinted glasses" boat. And then you go on and slate the Munster team for, even if the sentence was intended in the way you originally saw it, a very mild comment. Either way, unnecessary. Any idiot can start a fight over nothing on the internet.

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jumping04 January 28, 2012 8:27 pm

Johndoes, that was Ryan Lamb who misses the ankle tap. Foden is the one who tackled him into touch before taking the quick throw.
Agreed with Zavala. Clearly a forward pass on that try.

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johndoe January 29, 2012 7:48 pm

Clearly? Absolutely not. In fact, after taking a closer look I would say that the pass was not even flat, but backwards.

Moment of ball release:

Zebo catches it with his right hand which is well behind the horizontal mark. The ball's overall movement was towards the tryline but what matters is that the ball was not realeased out of the hands in a forward direction.

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jumping04 January 28, 2012 8:31 pm

Zebo also reminds me a lot of Chris Ashton. Lots of pace, knows where to be and at the right time too.

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Marky_Hinchrfc January 29, 2012 4:19 am

I am a through and through Uster fan.

But, i seen this lad play a few years back against my home club Ballynahinch RFC ( vs Corn Con) in the AIL final (which we won) but I knew from the talent that he presented that day that he would be something great. Fair play to the man, long live Irish Rugby

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stroudos January 29, 2012 12:17 pm

Just a quick note on the handbags around 6:00 in - who's the Northampton #6 being totally pushed about by Munster scrum-half and then little ROG? Flankers just don't seem quite the same these days as they used to be.

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johndoe January 29, 2012 12:49 pm

Calum Clark I think. Murray isn't small though.

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Cluainoir January 29, 2012 12:42 pm

You have to remember also that Munster are a team in transition, lots of youngsters coming through, Mahony, Nagle and Barnes to name a few. I agree that the pass to Zebo for his first try was forward, but you do have to look at the first penalty try for northampton, tualgai driving in at an angle, how that wasn't spotted is a mystery, considering poitte's alleged expertise in the scrum. These things happen in rugby, officials miss things but the usually balance themselves out.

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Colombes January 29, 2012 3:55 pm

don't really understand the scrum debate over here.
the strongest scrum should always win, here it was saints one, and i didn't hear munster complain about that (maybe if they had lost..)
there will be always mind games in scrums: the 9 who don't insert the ball, the hooker who popped up, etc... scrum penalties seemed to become a sort of lottery. that's to IRB to adapt their rules to new scrummagers cheat behaviours

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johndoe January 29, 2012 7:40 pm

I thought a scrum was about technique, not sheer strength. Anyway, they are breaking the rules so they should be penalised even if they are stronger.

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