Irish Provinces Pro 12 Weekend Review 24/05/2015

Spread the love

Munster qualified for the Pro 12 Final after defeating the Ospreys by three points at Thomond Park. Ulster lost out to Glasgow Warriors in the other semi – final by two points having led for most of the game. Connacht also suffered heartbreak as they lost to Gloucester after extra time in the Champions Cup playoff. In other news, Leinster have parted company with their head coach Matt O’Connor.

Irish Provinces Pro 12 Weekend Review 24/05/2015

Munster:

Munster secured a place in this weekend’s Pro 12 final after beating the Ospreys by three points. Anthony Foley’s side were nearly caught out as the Ospreys scored in injury time but referee Nigel Owens and the TMO deemed that Rhys Webb had knocked on earlier in the play.

It would have been rough justice if Munster had lost this game as they dominated for long periods with Simon Zebo, Denis Hurley and Paddy Butler scoring the home side’s tries. CJ Stander put in another man of the match performance with a dominating display.

Munster go into Saturday’s final with star player Paul O’Connell effectively admitting that it will be his final game for the province. O’Connell is rumoured to be joining French side Toulon but may also retire after the World Cup. Either way it gives Munster even more incentive to win on Saturday.

Ulster:

Ulster lost out on a chance of playing the Pro 12 Final in their own backyard after Finn Russell’s nerveless conversion sent Glasgow Warriors through. The loss was shrouded in controversy after Warriors wing Niko Matawalu was accused of diving for a penalty that completely changed the games’ momentum.

Neil Doak’s side had led for much of the game thanks to Chris Henry’s try and some outstanding kicking by Ruan Pienaar. They will be bitterly disappointed to have missed out on the chance of playing a major final in front of their own fans at the Kingspan Stadium.

Les Kiss will be a welcome addition as Director of Rugby after he finishes his duties as Ireland’s assistant coach after the World Cup. From Ulster’s point of view they need to start winning trophies soon and Kiss’ introduction could be the final piece in delivering some silverware.

Connacht:

Connacht were left devastated as they lost out in the Champions Cup playoff game against Gloucester after extra time. Pat Lam’s side led going into injury time but Bill Meakes’ controversial converted try forced extra time.

They had a legitimate claim that Meakes’ try should not have been awarded due to a block on Andrew Browne but the TMO thought otherwise. Matt Healy crossed for two tries while Jack Carty and John Cooney also added scores for Connacht.

Carty and Cooney had outstanding games and were a constant threat to Gloucester while Healy added to his ever growing reputation with his performance. If Connacht can keep onto these players as well as Robbie Henshaw, the future is bright on the west coast.

Leinster: 

It was no surprise that Leinster and head coach Matt O’Connor parted company last week. The defending Pro 12 Champions did not make the playoffs this season and O’Connor has been widely criticised this season because of the team’s performance.

Upon his departure O’Connor said: “I am disappointed and frustrated with our form in the Pro 12 this season. We set high standards for ourselves and for many reasons, we did not achieve those highs throughout the league this campaign.”

O’Connor won the Pro 12 in his first season in charge but despite a good run in Europe this year, their poor form domestically has effectively cost O’Connor his job. Former forwards coach Jono Gibbes is the current favourite to take over at Leinster but it would be surprising to see him leave his role at Clermont Auvergne.