By Alan Dymock
THE OLD adage about rugby being a game where anyone can beat anyone else always stands in hideous contrast with the desire to catalogue, label and rate every team. Sure, everyone can have a good day, but that doesn’t fit with our Saturday supplement pull-out guide, does it?
Yet the first week of the RaboDirect Pro12 was a relatively tight affair, with the exception of Leinster hammering Scarlets 42-19. Only Munster and Leinster scored 10 points or more than their opponents and only they scored four tries or more.
Dawning of a new era? Perhaps not, but it was a first weekend full of spills and hiccup-banishing scares.
The Dragons trumping Ulster 15-8 at home was a bit of a jolt from the jungle, as they began their tenure under Lyn Jones in both an abrasive and ruthless manner. Ulster will not be used to being anything other than the flat track bullies at the breakdown and so may be focused on all out carnage against the Glasgow Warriors next week.
Glasgow did manage to seal off a tight win at home against Cardiff Blues, despite a few injuries throughout the contest. They never quite looked like pulling away, but a burst from Tommy Seymour – on as a substitute for the injured Byron McGuigan – was enough to ensure they defeated Cardiff, Rhys Patchell and his thumping boot.
Connacht started their campaign in the right way with a 25-16 win over win-starved Zebre. Exciting young full-back Robbie Henshaw continued to impress, while returning winger Fionn Carr scored after Nathan White and Matt Healy dotted down. New coach Pat Lam has a debut win to power his team to Cardiff, while Zebre are staring down a harsh lesson against Munster on Friday.
In front of a Cork crowd, Munster were too strong for a threadbare Edinburgh side, leading 22-6 at half time. Nick De Luca and Lee Jones scored for the visitors, but an Ian Keatley-orchestrated gang were queuing up to score. Alan Solomons needs to introduce his new defence style sharpish; something he has intimated himself.
Then there was the last game of the round, with Treviso laying traps for the Ospreys.
The Welsh region came through, though it never looked certain, and Treviso are a side that have beaten the Ospreys a few times in Italy. A few tries straightened out the record, but the Ospreys will need a lot more when they visit Dublin in Round 2.
After the first thrashing, Scarlets coach Simon Easterby spoke of how cheek-reddening a heavy loss can be, and Ospreys will be more than aware that five tries from five different players away from home is an aspect of the Leinster play that must be worried about.