It felt somewhat weird to watch last week’s Pro 14 matches from the perspective of someone who wrote about them, and gave some advice on the outcomes. It certainly put an extra edge on things, even more excitement and a few eye-closing moments.
I have to wonder how the big hitters feel when they’re standing to win, or lose big amounts of money with only minutes left of a match. It calls for cool heads, for sure!
Our first column went down well, thank you for the mails and messages. The Cardiff Blues beat the Scarlets, as predicted and my son James received the Man Of The Match award – as noted, he was fired up for a big performance and he was impressive in all aspects of play.
I was delighted for Dai Young, who won his first game back in charge of the Blues. He’ll want to build immediately on this, the spirits are high.
Connacht fell to a narrow defeat at the hands of the Ospreys, I called it close but to the wrong side. The game was excellent, all the same, and the winning team played outstanding and enjoyable rugby, with our ‘man-to-watch’, Rhys Webb, leading the Ospreys’ spirited charge, scoring two tries and securing of Man Of The Match.
So, in summation, it was three out of four, not half bad for a first attempt, and I’ll be aiming at as many full houses as possible now.
I’m covering two Saturday matches: Munster face Benetton in a Group B Match at the Stadio Comunale Monigo in Treviso at 5pm on Saturday, and the Scarlets take on Leinster at 7:35pm, at Parc y Scarlets.
However good and competitive they are, the Scarlets have just hit a rocky patch recently and they may be on a downward spiral. Leinster, in turn, are sitting pretty on the top and will be hard to knock off if they maintain their recent levels of performance, but Ulster are pushing them hard!
In-form Munster will take a power of beating in Italy. While both sides will be missing players on international duty with 10 Munster men in the Ireland squad and 17 Benetton players in the Italy squad, Munster have the far better side and I foresee a bonus point win.
Benetton will be turned out for the first time by coach Paul Gustard, someone I played with many years ago and a true stalwart at Leicester. Paul’s a good guy, he’s joined the Italians from Harlequins and I have little doubt that he’ll make a difference at the club, but I suspect he needs more time to turn them around.