Wednesday, January 21, 2015
Steffon Armitage scored a hat-trick as Toulon stormed into the European Champions Cup quarter finals with a 60-22 victory over Ulster at the weekend. This great team try, finished off by Mamuka Gorgodze, was one of the best of the round.
The reigning European champions are the first side to reach the quarter finals following the eight try rout. The bonus point win came about through scores for Argentina's Nicolas Sanchez, South Africa's Bryan Habana, France's Mathieu Bastareaud, Italy's Martin Castrogiovanni, Englishman Armitage's treble and this classic try by Georgian, Gorgodze.
Welsh fullback Leigh Halfpenny kicked 20 points for Toulon, on a day when the losing side actually grabbed a four-try bonus point, as Ulster scored well taken tries via Paddy Jackson, Mike McComish, Jared Payne and Lewis Stevenson.
Toulon now has a five point Pool 3 lead over Leicester, who themselves picked up a bonus point win as they beat Scarlets 40-23. The Tigers will need to win away at Ulster in the next round of play if they are to join Toulon in the last eight.
The tryfest featured an impressive hat-trick for flanker Armitage, whose heroics made no impact on England coach Stuart Lancaster, who left him out of the England training squad for the Six Nations.
The stunning try below, featuring some superb hands in the build up, was voted as Try of the Week in the official EPC Poll of the top tries from round five. You can view that here.
Tuesday, January 20, 2015
Bath secured a bonus point victory over Toulouse this weekend with this great try set up by Jonathan Joseph. As Bath keep European Champion Cup hopes alive, their centre pairing of Kyle Eastmond and Joseph eagerly await Stuart Lancaster's England Six Nation's squad announcement on Wednesday.
The match started off with plenty of action, as a George Ford penalty then Matt Banahan try within seven minutes gabe Bath an early lead.
Toulouse responded with a try of their own through second row Yoann Maestri, but couldn't keep Bath at bay, as they notched up another two tries – one, an interception by scrum-half Chris Cook, and the second by centre Joseph after a break by midfield partner Kyle Eastman.
Toulouse managed to squeeze in a try before half time making it 25-14 at the break.
A Toby Flood penalty early in the second half put the home team within seven points. That's as close as they would come. Bath's defence proved too good in the second half and when Joseph regained this grubber then set up Francois Louw for the try, it was game set and match.
Bath Head Coach Mike Ford called it a "world class" effort from Joseph and also highlighted a crucial try saving tackle from George Ford in the second half.
With Bath's backline in such fine form, it begs the question: can the trio of Ford, Joseph and Eastmond replicate their form in the Six Nations for England?
More importantly, does Stuart Lancaster think so? We will find out on Wednesday.
Bath inch up to second place in Pool Four of the European Champion's Cup and face Glasgow this coming weekend (who they lost to in their first encounter) while Toulouse, at the top of the table, face bottom placed Montpellier. Pool Four is in for a tense final weekend.
Monday, January 19, 2015
The IRB, now known as World Rugby, have put together a video featuring some of the top tryscorers of 2014. It's been named the Top 5 International Try Scorers of 2014, but there are actually a bonus two in there, including those from other tiers of Test rugby.
Lethal All Black winger Julian Savea topped the try-scoring charts with 11 tries, while the likes of Israel Folau and Manuel Montero also weighed in with some great scores for their countries.
Israel Folau - 7 tries in 14 matches | Manuel Montero - 7 tries in 11 matches | Nemani Nadolo - 7 tries in 7 matches | Akihito Yamada - 8 tries in 8 matches | Yoshikazu Fujita - 10 tries in 6 matches | Sebastian Mejia - 10 tries in 3 matches | Julian Savea - 11 tries in 13 matches
Thursday, January 15, 2015
Following the tragic events that took place in Paris last week, the rugby fraternity came together to pay respect to those that lost their lives in the series of terror attacks. Here is a look at how right the way across the Top 14 weekend, moments of silence were observed.
Teams, management and fans all paid tribute to the victims, with the players wearing shirts that said Nous Sommes Tous Charlie, meaning We Are All Charlie. In a number of venues the French national anthem, La Marseillaise, was sung spontaneously as a mark of solidarity.
credit: canal plus/gorpitsen junior
Stade Français and Castres observe minute's silence after France's week of terror
Top 14 sides Stade Français and Castres paid tribute to the victims of the Charlie Hebdo and other French terror murders this week in their Top 14 tie in Paris last night, observing a minute's silence before the match. Players from both sides also wore "Nous Sommes Tous Charlie" (We Are All Charlie) t-shirts as a mark of respect.
Following the silence fans sang out the French national anthem La Marseillaise at the Stade Jean-Bouin. A wonderful tribute.
Stade won the match 49-13, to go back to the summit of the #Top14.- See more at: http://www.follow-rugby.com/videos/2972/category/Features/6/Stade-Franais-and-Castres-observe-minutes-silence-after-Frances-week-of-terror#sthash.m7gopMkR.dpuf
Monday, January 12, 2015
Sam Burgess had a solid run out against Wasps this past weekend, scoring his first ever league try as well as making these two big tackles. He's fast becoming a fan favourite and with play like this, you can understand why. Bath won the game 39-26.
Burgess was named Man of the Match after his best Bath outing yet, but that may have been a bit misleading. He did show flashes of power and brilliance but there were moments that show he is still aferall, new to the fifteen mad code.
The double smashing of Ben Jacobs was impressive and he carried the ball well. He also scored his first senior try, which he was pleased to have achieved.
"It was good. I am kind of glad to get the monkey off the back," Burgess said post match.
"I was happy to get over for the try. George (Ford) found me with a great pass, and I managed to slide over. I am improving week to week, and enjoying a bit more time on the field. Overall, I am happy with the way things are going, and there are things to work on, as always.
"I am used to the pressure. I came from quite a high pressure environment in Australia, and I am learning the game week by week, but pressure is fine. I kind of knew that would be the case."
Bath head coach Mike Ford acknowledged that Burgess still has a lot to learn.
"Sam played his best game but he is still a long way from where Sam Burgess needs to be.
"He is definitely on the right track. He didn't do everything right. Straight away afterwards he came up to me and he said how he needs to get better defensively."
Still very fresh in the game of Union, Burgess is clearly a work in progress but he's getting a decent run at inside centre and with enough game time, you can be sure that the impact he makes each match will continue to become more and more significant.
You can view the try he scored, as well as the match highlights, on page two
Saturday, January 10, 2015
Last weekend Leinster's Ian Madigan scored a sneaky try by feigning to kick for touch, but instead quick tapped and dived over. Years back in the 1999 Super 12, former Springbok flyhalf Braam Van Straaten did something very similar, also with success.
Super Rugby fans will remember this try well, as Stormers number ten Van Straaten, famed for his quality goal kicking, recovered from treatment as the Blues assumed he was going for posts.
Perhaps a whisper in the ear, or some quick thinking on his own part, led to an easy try in the corner for the home side as he caught the visitors to Newlands unaware.
Tuesday, January 06, 2015
Leinster flyhalf Ian Madigan scored the sneakiest of tries to help the Irish powerhouse side to a 24-11 win over Ulster in the Guinness Pro12 at the weekend. It's been called the oldest trick in the book, but somehow he executed it well enough to drive over.
It was a bit of a turning point in the match, as Leinster had the penalty and a possible shot at goal, but they turned it down and opted for a kick at a 5m lineout instead.
He all but kicked it, and at the last minute took the tap and despite the attention of two big forwards, managed to wriggle over for a well taken, albeit risky, try.
"I think it is good to have guys who want to be a little bit different," said forwards coach Leo Cullen.
"The greatest player of all time (Brian O'Driscoll) has just retired and he was prepared to try things. You have to be ballsy to try things and it came off for Mads."
The Leinster legend himself approved:
"When it comes off its brilliant, when it doesn't it's terrible," added Cullen.
"Mads has no problem making those decisions. He's brave and, at times, he can be a bit of a maverick, for sure. But he is such a quality player and he is working his ass off for the team and to be better himself.
"As long as you get that from your players, that is all you can ask for really," said Cullen.
View official highlights from the match on page two here