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Then after the weekend's games, we now have our pro 14 semi-finals line up on Friday for the third season in a row in the Pro Fortgang, its Leinster against Munster in the semis, both sides winning over the weekend and on Saturday. The second semi-final is Ulster Edinburgh in Murrayfield seven thirty five PM kickoff. Delighted to say. And Driscoll is with us. Good evening. Good evening, Joe. How are you? Very well. Leinster winning against Ulster.
Twenty eight points to ten, just to twenty three wins in a row now for Leinster post lockdown. They are two from two. Thirty eight players used fifteen changes from the win over Monster. And according to the squad update this morning, Donlevy, James Ryan and Taig Furlong no less. All in the mix for Friday. They are a well oiled machine.
Yeah, the juggernaut continues. Yeah, they were very impressive. Again, the first fifty minutes in particular I thought was incredibly solid performance. Got themselves out to a sixteen point lead.
Didn't seem as though Oldster done a huge amount wrong, but it's just a matter of which, you know, players and some some players know seen out of position in Frawley playing at twelve rather than customs ten position and the seamlessness with which they integrate into the team is kind of something to behold. So, yeah, just very, very impressive. And it feels as though they have a gear to ratchet up.
If, you know, if the opposition does seem to catch them or they have a little purple patch, that they have something else in their locker to be able to ignite them into that, into a different level where teams just can't compete with them.
And they got a little bit of luck with that John Cooney decision later on in the game. And then and then they put it to bed and maybe the overall scoreline flattered them a fraction.
But they are they are some side of them.
Then it's it's it's a squad that, you know, would be the envy of of, you know, most squads in Europe. Yeah.
Dom McFarland wasn't happy with that offside. The interception by John Kunie. That was a twenty one ten. Leinster did go on to score. Third, try, as you say, though, the general suspicion I think would be if Ulster got back to within four of Leinster, they would find another gear. Leinster.
Yeah, but and you know what? I've looked at that a good few times and watched it live.
And I thought I we can't have any complaints when they did pull it back. And and then I've looked at it.
It's a real 50/50 decision, the one the Cooney got penalised for. I've seen referees let them go to. There's not a whole lot in I think that father clutching at straws a small bit. But yes, it would have been a one score game, but it wasn't as though the whole momentum was in favour of that point. Leinster would have had kick off. And they've been a team that had been very good opposing eight games as we saw them actually ending up doing with with Harry Burns late score.
So I think on the face of everything, I think it was a very strong performance, a better performance from Ulster, but they had a long way to improve from their performance against Konate.
But I have to say, you know, it'll be difficult for them to go away not having hit their straps. Yes. And this is the second coming of of the 2019 20 season. They haven't really been at their best. They've kind of made a lot of unforced errors in past the play where they're stringing faces together and coughing ball up and that they wouldn't ordinarily do.
But there's a couple of shining lights, but I'm stuck down at fifteen. Looks impressive. And they'll have you know, they'll have had an opportunity of resting some of their key players to make sure that they're good to go this weekend and know that, you know, knockout rugby brings out a different beast in players.
What is it about talk to or fifteen that you like?
It just looks very comfortable. There he looks. He looks as though he's getting more touches, looks very commanding in the air. His left foot boot, you know, he's he had a couple of really searching fifty, sixty metre and connections, relieving pressure and their exits have been good. I said to Nathan last week that. I love having that right foot left foot, 10 and 15 to have that option. It gives huge variety to what you can do.
You can you can attack. And if it doesn't look good for you, you can get, you know, bootable on it and turn it into an attacking exercise. And I think they did that a number of times and, you know, relieving pressure, but also keeping the ball in and then getting good kick chase to try and turn the ball over. So and stuff. Dale, right now, just his presence. I think he's using that to great effect.
Sometimes I wonder, does he realize the power that he punches and that he packs and when he's accelerating into contact, that he is an enormous unit and sometimes he he doesn't you know, you look at players like like Jamie Roberts is a great example of where he uses every sinew of power and size that he has to accelerate into the hole.
I think Stockdale has to learn he's got another five or 10 percent in those collision zones that he can be the aggressor. But for the most part, I've been impressed with with what he's what he's done and the amount of touches and the amount of meters that they was top on the on the meters game this weekend and all game nearly get nearly accumulating. Ninety meters. So he only played sixty five minutes. So overall, very impressive.
And with a view to this eighteen Nov tournament by which time James though will be Irish qualified. And we Averroes and we have Conway and we have low obviously and we have Larmer and we have Stockdale. You want they fit in as much talent as possible. Is he a very viable option for an Irish fifteen jersey then?
I think he is. I think if you look at it, obviously it's it's between him and Lahmar at the moment. They're the two guys that can clearly play 15 and loads is going to get game time.
I don't know if he's going to be put in immediately into the set up, you know, on the basis of him being qualified. I think sometimes that message isn't the one that players like our coaches like getting across that, you know, there's a new guy in a squad. He's got to earn the right to play internationally.
And you can't just throw him in in the first game and and almost be thankful that you have him.
I think in a in a team where the back three has looked good and with Conway and Earl's playing well, I could be hard to not select those two guys, you know, depending on whether you're going to play Stockton at fullback or Lahmar fullback.
So it is now a nice position to be in and LA will get game time. I just don't know if he'll get it immediately or if he'll get it in the games where you're picking your first fifteen. I think he has to earn that right to get into that first fifteen. And how do you weigh up Lahmar versus Stockdale?
I think at the moment I think a lot will be judged on this weekend's performance from Lahmar at fifteen. If he gets a I have a sneaking suspicion that he might go with Rob Khania fifteen this weekend and Lahmar on the wing, obviously with the injury to Dave Carney. No Adam Byrne or Fergus McFadden. I just think you go with experience and you might lose a little bit of cutting edge and counter-attack at fifteen. And I know Stuart Lancaster does like playing all eight attack Bush and there's a security to having someone like Rob of fifteen when you have the ability to shift Lahmar to to the wing as well.
It is about getting your best players out on the park. And if you play Lahmar at fifteen, I don't know what winger you put on. You don't put on a good looking and I don't think you put on a Kinkella her on the wing for a clutch semifinal game like this against Munster. I think you go with your best players and you're most experienced players and those that have come had and I think Rob Karani of fifteen might be the decision that they go with with with Larmer on the wing.
So it'll be a different sort of performance for Lahmar. On the back of that, he'll obviously have less high to deal with. But Will, everyone will be keeping a very keen eye. And if he does play there and the bucks kicks from Conrad Murray, whether Conway or whoever it might be he's marking, get the better of him because it's an area of his game, but definitely needs honing.
Yes, you might have a feel for this. What kind of input will the Pharoah have when it comes to Stockdale playing in fifteen or Lahmar fifteen Irish coaches down the year? Can they ring up provinces or go through the RFU and say, listen, can you give him some game time there? And how does that does it depend on who the provincial coaches.
Yeah, I think it does. I think it depends on the relationship with the national coach at the time and also depends on what the best fit for the province in that particular game is. It's easier to do that throughout the year rather than at the business end of the season, semi-finals and finals.
But the problem is the provinces do have autonomy. They can say, listen, sorry, it's not how do they do it?
And if it if it didn't fit and. On McFarland's and set up where he wanted to play, Jacob stopped on the winning that's that's his prerogative and he's entitled to stick to that.
Whereas I think, you know, a lot of these provincial coaches will think about and wins with the national coach and favours being done. And, you know, obviously, as well, if a coach has an idea that a player might fit well in a particular position, you know, and other coaches are open to suggestion with those things and maybe they might have a point to try them at once. And it doesn't work. Well, at least you've tried it once, but it's more difficult to do that.
And in clutch games and what a player like Jacob Stockdale, you know, he's going to rise to the occasion being on the wing or at 15 and there's more responsibilities at 15. And now that he's a couple of years older, I think he's in a position to be able to take on more pressure. But for the most part, you know, Don McFarlane maybe will be thinking, yeah, I'll give him a go there. That works out terrific.
I'll be seen to have done a solid for the international coach and maybe I'll get a favor somewhere else down the line to.
So the view to Leinster Munster that at the weekend, Leinster 28, eight, 10. We spoke very briefly just before coming on air. You want to make a point about the messages Leinster send the opposition? Are they send Oldster certainly in the first couple of minutes here?
Yes. Just the psychology of what Leinster do. And I think they're such a clever team. And being Philip counterposed me or Leo Cullen or Stuart Lancaster or in fact, the individuals that are playing in that Leinster set up, I just think the picture that they show to the opposition. But then so often they do something slightly different, even though they'll know the analysis that has been done on them will feel as though it's it's settled for a particular play.
And the play is a great example of it. You know, and back when I was playing, it was the Brumbies play, and it used to be that 10, 12, 13 short and out the back to 10 looping around or hit the 13 short and then a blind winger trailing. And so you could go through the goats or you could go round players holding your depth as appropriate to what they've started doing now is they're going nine to 12.
They don't have the luxury anymore of having that extra pass, you know, to get through three passes before the coach passes triggered they go nine, 12, 13 short and then ten at the back with the line when you're trailing.
And it's the same set up so often. But now we're starting to see the grubber kick used an awful lot that was used last week and again.
And it's just so and and good, you know, talking about doing it, but then having the accuracy and the trail lines to be able to get through. I thought it was really clever early on. What it does to the psychology of it is that it gets the opposition questioning their defensive line speed and then it allows them later on to actually go to the play or to the hit return play. So nine twelve hit thirteen back to twelve, and then all of a sudden you're around the corner.
And so, you know, by by nudging a ball within the first two minutes straight away as a defense of thirteen and if I was humidify mcclosky, I'd be thinking, gosh, I wasn't expecting that. And now we'll be on our heels a little bit more. And that just gives you another second of time on the ball later on in the game. The fact that they were able to regather the ball and then score, you know, six or seven phases later on through Ed Byrne was the icing on the cake.
But I just think they they really thought through their kicking game. And I wonder whether it's come as a result of the work they've done with the Crusaders, with Robertson and identifying the kick to regather is that is a big component of the game now that there's a huge end at the time. Fourteen bodies in the defensive line with one in the backfield.
It feels like England really made a point of I don't know, don't I say pioneering that, but certainly utilizing that over the previous couple of years, you just had so many lovely little kickers dotted around the pitch and with line speed coming up and 14 spread across the pitch, there are very few options when it comes to running. Yeah, well, you still have that option, I think, you know, because when we talk about 14 one, you can talk about what the responsibilities of what the fullback has to cover.
Now, teams are playing Wenger's hi. It's to show that line speed, to not think about drifting so you can get up in the opposition's face. And so there has to be space somewhere.
And, you know, if you can set up a situation where you manipulate a defense or pull the fullback out and have a winger playing high and then not the ball, true, then it's a foot race and then it's down to the quality of the kicks. And England obviously had four and five Albanians very capable of nudging those little Grober kicks through. And we know the band's Virag people can bandz any particular way.
So at least your odds are stacked that a 50 50, 50 50 favor when there's a rush and you know, it bends badly for Johnny Sexton in Twickenham early on this year. And, you know, the aggressiveness of the chase as well from the likes of Lochlyn and in taking IFRS and then Frawley actually being able to recoup the ball and then all of a sudden they're hammering away at the line.
These small moments just set the setup and, you know, the David and Olstad mind that, gosh, we thought we were going to have a good from the off and they Leinster all of a sudden within three or four minutes of seven points or just one last point on Leinster then and would bring in Monster Connect Kieran Frawley to twelve, which I think caught the eye.
He's been working on that in training. He said he said you do have a lot more time. It's obviously more physical. I seem to go quite well. I don't know what you thought so told about Frawley. And then Harry Byrne got about 20 minutes as well. Rossborough and obviously started and Johnny Sexton had his feet up. So these three behind Sexton.
Yeah, I haven't seen a huge amount of Frawley. Obviously, he plays a lot of the pro fourteen games and Giannis Away or being rested. And the problem is you know the third fourth choice and they were. I'm not entirely sure. So maybe you know he's had a word or you know, the coaches have realized that we've got three pretty good standards, no tens and sexton and the tubeworms. Maybe we need to make him a second distributor in the twelve jersey.
And he's done very well from from his outing at the weekend, obviously got them out of the match. But and the question marks would have been around his defensive game, made a big lamb coming out of Monserrat McClosky. He didn't have it all his own way. But I think and having another having a ten playing in the twelve jersey gives you that second set of eyes, having an ability to be able to get to the extremities a little bit better with the quality of their pass as well.
You look at the passing game of Landser from all of those towns, all excellent passers, all on the money. And so there it is, a bit of an embarrassment of riches considering. But, you know, Harry Byrd, who looks incredibly talented, could only sit and was only sitting on the bench the weekend three, three, no tens of caliber playing in that twenty three. And that's not even including Johnny Sexton is is something.
So, yeah, I'm excited to see a little bit more. Frawley, I wonder, will he make twelve a little bit more of his own position is a bit like no. Reed when he broke onto the scene he came in as a number ten and then he developed into into a twelve that could play ten as well. So maybe we'll see that of of Frawley.
With regard to Harry Byrne, I thought, you know, is he's a very, very confident young player and he brings a real aggressiveness to the way he plays. When you look at the way lots of towns take their ball off of off their No.9, some tickets.com take a deep he takes it accelerating onto the ball.
He wants to sit there and the defensive line by the aggressiveness with which he attacks it. And it's very hard for defensive line to continue pressing when they see the number ten hitting the ball hard, hitting it square and then and then distributing as well to the to the outside channels, be it through his forehead runners or at the back to to one of his outside box, hit a couple of loose kicks early on Berne. But then, you know, the Crossfield kicked the penny for his try and then his own try the manner in which he aggressively took that short line.
I just think it's a player that's oozing in confidence. I think we're going to see an awful lot more of him in the twenty, twenty, twenty one season.
They'll all have to fight it. Last, ladies and gents, is going to play until he's fifty four. Now that's what I'm here. Oh yeah.
And you know, Johnny, sex is going to go on for a while and we have to, we have to consciously not be ageist just because he is 35 now. He is in incredible condition. Yeah. And he, you know, he looks in the shape of his life and if he has an appetite for it, still, that's the problem. A lot of players just run out of steam mentally by the time they get to 35. Some of it is that the new breed come in and there's no connection between the two.
21 year olds that are talking, you know, in the dressing room and, you know, your your father of three and heading home to change nappies, it's a very different dynamic that actually is where some player goes. You know what? I don't know if this is for me anymore. You start losing all of your friends. You're the oldest swinger in town. And you know, the guys that you've hung out with for 12, 13 years all of a sudden are going on to pastures new.
So it's it's it's the mental switch as much as the physical sometimes. And as he said himself, you know, he's never really called on as his guest to be the point, his point of difference. I watched him when Luke McGraw made a break last week. And I tell you, he's he was as quick as I've seen him in a long time. So the expectation is just because he's 35, everyone wants to write him off. I think there's a couple of good years left in Johnny Sex and for sure.
Yeah, I wouldn't doubt a brief tangent to what to what extent was it mental for you when it came to stepping away as opposed to physical?
I was more physical for me. I did still love it, but it became it became mental because the physical really let me down and that I couldn't do what I wanted to do. I could still see it as well as that as quickly as ever. But but I just couldn't react and couldn't do whatever about the different evolutions you go through over the course of your career, you know, I mean, the 21, 22 year old's acceleration and all that.
I'd park that and I'd I'd gotten over not having an ability to do that by the time I was thirty. But there's only so many processes of evolution that you can have. And I was evolving into not actually being able to deliver anything other than a playmaker. And even then, I just felt a bit susceptible in defense. I felt that faster, more agile players could get me in. And as a result it got into my head and I couldn't get out of there quick enough.
In the final season, Monster then had a seven three win over forty nine points to twelve. There's a strange game to try and analyze it on a great depth. For obvious reasons. There were three yellow to red cards in the opening forty minutes. Frank Murphy awarded twenty two penalties in the first half alone. Yeah, yeah. Thirteen of 13 at the end of the first half burn in a minor resentment the two sending offset briefly Abraham Papillae, the tackle on Murray and Shane Delahunt with his forearm and to suggest under both red cards I presume we can briefly say cards properly.
It's quite lucky early on on a contact with Connor Murray as well. He hit them a little bit of a high shot. It's lovely having an an enforcer like that. But what he's going to have to learn very quickly is that he's got to control his his collisions. You can't go in with brute force from five metres. I trying to maim someone with the reality that someone, you know, could change direction at the last second and a dip or change their body height and your collision stays on course, you're going to clean their head off.
And and that's that's what happened with Conrad Murray. He identified that it was a great opportunity for him to get a big hit. Murray was a gap. And and it took a while to actually get to the final angle. I think they got to the did the decision early, Hodges and Frank Murphy and 100 percent correct. But actually, it was right after they finished the decision and Angle came in where you could see direct contact with his jaw. And for me, that was a so-called red card.
And then the other one. Yeah. And the letter of the law leading with the arm. Did you catch someone by there in the neck or the or the or the head? It's a red card. Frank Murphy tried to see whether there was a yellow card possibility by talking about the first impact at the sternum. But ideologies change that. And he was right to as well. The contact was straight into his neck, that windpipe injury. You know, I've seen players really struggle with that in the past.
So we need to outlaw. And for me, they got the two of them spot on. I actually think there could have been more yellow cards. I think when we're down to thirteen, they could have had another man in the bin. And, you know, I think Frank Murphy probably was a little bit lenient. If they didn't have to send these off, there was definitely going to be a yellow card. And then and, you know, sometimes you start siding with a team and feeling subconsciously feeling a bit sorry for them.
And the two yellow cards that Munser got just before halftime and then certainly the burn one seemed a little bit harsh. I don't know whether he was off his feet by the time he got the ball, but whenever the game was over as a spectacle at that stage, what can Monster take from an attacking perspective from this game?
And what are you seeing from them generally? You know, post lockdown, Larkham has had his chance now to kind of try and fine tune things. They Landis had another game to settle in. Like if we're if we're if we're listing a problem of monsters over the last number of years, it's that scoring tries is that bit to.
Much work for them and takes that bit too much out of them, any any signs of rejuvenation and extra wrinkles in their play with the players that we talked about already, the you know, they've got two excellent finishers in an URL's and Conway in back at the height of their form back to the form of last year. And so when you have that, you just have to create opportunities for them. And I think, you know, certainly Conways first try against Leinster and the manner in which they use the brute force of Dilan they on and Stander and their big ball carriers.
That's what they've got to do. It's all about creation of quick bull, another defensive system, the world offensive, a great defensive system, but they get narrow when the opposition go keeps on going the same way. And Münster, call it a cog team. Keep on going. Monster are at their best when they don't try and get too clever, when they just play brute force, where they get those big ball carriers over the advantage line and then they have the quality of past from the likes of JJ Hamrin and the finishing capabilities of Earles and Conway.
That's what they're going to do best.
And have they struggled against the bigger teams in Europe, Brian? Is that where they've come up short when they haven't been able to win?
They have. But you don't compete against Saracens and against Rossing? Yeah, it tends to be. And that's why they brought in Snakeman and that's why they felt and that, you know, you look at their frontrow. Are there any real months, Kilcoyne aside, is there anyone that, you know, really at a high international level in the front row? The reality is, no. I don't know what scandal was going to be an international caliber hooker.
Yes, he's gotten a few Test matches, but it's he probably hasn't hit the expectation levels of of a couple of seasons ago. And, yeah, against the best European teams, you've got to play international caliber sides and international caliber pucks. And it just felt as though that they've come off second best to them. Yes, they're a team that can get out of their group, says, yes, they can win, you know, the the occasional quarterfinal now.
But but, you know, it's a different team that you meet in the semifinals and finals and they've come unstuck. And that's why it is the news about Cinnamon's really disappointing because was he the one of the missing links within that setup to be able to let them enhance their game? He's an off floater. He's a ball carries a footballer. I think he's the perfect player to fit into that Munster team to get them to the next level. But it's great to see Tyburn back and being a nuisance as we know and love from him.
And maybe under undefiled, he'll you'll see a little bit more international time if you can keep up those standards that he said at the weekend.
So if monster fans are looking for, you know, the case that they can cause Leinster serious bother. On Friday night, Leo called and talked about their line at work last week as their main you know, their best source of access to the game was how he put it. So that was good. And that was obviously even with Simon when he went off injured. And also their work at the breakdown has been much talked about as well. So, you know, they're kind of two areas where they can really put it up to Leinster, Biyombo and Brown.
Right. They need a huge amount to go right against Leinster. There is a gulf between the teams at the moment. I think the bookies have an eight points. I like monsarrat those odds. I think it'll be a tight game again. Bush reality is you look at player four player I do think, and the cohesive unit that Leinster are at the moment that Munster are going to be underdogs and rightly so. But and but they're what they've done at the breakdown in the last two weeks will absolutely cause headaches for Leinster.
You look at Walsh and stats, that's just standard has picked off four, I think, four turnovers in the defeat to the US, to Leinster a couple of weeks and create a Peter O'Mahoney. I saw Conrad Murray in there a couple of times that you felt hard done by not getting one or two steals. So it is clearly something that they've identified. And again, it comes down to every team in the world looks half decent when they've got fast ball, slow it and set the defensive line and and give players an opportunity to get back on their feet and get line speed.
It's a simple knock on effect of slowing the drop down to then being set to deal with the next phase. So, yeah, I think that's somewhere where Leinster have to be clinical and along with their lineout, obviously they were disappointing in the late night and the game last week. And Peter Almani again pilfered ball and his timing looks as good as ever and and even an ability to be able to read Lanzas lineout. So I think that's where you know the likes of Devin Toner if he starts with.
Be very important to Lanza's first face possession, because, you know, you deny them that, you deny them the ball or the quality possession. You know, no team can play well just off broken faith.
No. And like we're talking here, you know, so there's a there's a gulf of you said, as you said and monster, what they come up with. I mean, the reality is they have a five day turnaround deal on longrun, said we've got 60 Minutes, you know, proper training on Tuesday. And that's kind of it. You know, not so much. They'll be able to pull out of their back pocket if they're not going to find any.
There's no new major new game plan. This is same as what we saw last week against Leinster only doing better. And we saw aspects of it again against Connacht. Yes. You know, and you're playing against 13. You might get a bit of an inflated view as to how good you've been. So I think they'll they won't be patting themselves on the back too much on the back of that performance. But they've got you know, they've got very nice backs.
Now, that's about getting quality ball to them. They've got players that can give them go forward. But I looked at the quality of parts of the last and Pharrell at the weekend very, very crisp on the money ball out in front. And we saw the subtlety of of Farrell's hands for the second come. We try against Leinster a couple of weeks or last week. And these things, it's constantly trying to add new aspects to your game and keep the opposition guessing someone like C.J. Steindler.
I love to see him off loading the ball because you just don't expect any more footwork at the line and ability to get the ball out of. I had a contact changing the point of contact. These are things to keep Leinster moving, keeping them on the back for stop that aggressive line speed. That's what they're going to need to do at the weekend and to make sure this and you know that that Leinster have a more difficult day than than everyone's making out.
Yeah, that's no easy task. And before you go, Ulster, Edinburgh, Murrayfield on the Saturday Glasgow beat Edinburgh over the weekend, it was a dead rubber game. Fifteen points to three. Richard Cochrane said it was a pretty average game, full stop. And it sounds like a whole loads to go against Edinburgh then.
Yeah, listen, it'll be it'll be difficult on the basis that Ulster haven't hit their straps yet and it's hard to just produce when you've had to wear one poor performance and one OK performance.
So they'll be trying to convince themselves, yes, it's OK, it's not football. And then this weekend, a clean slate. Let's produce our best and they can go and do that. But I, I would worry for some of the errors that they've made and that some of the lack of cohesion and I think their time, the Felda and Maddigan was playing a little bit, you know, a little bit deep and away from the from the defensive line and encouraging line speed.
So I would anticipate you're going to see that the team that played against Leinster more so than the one that started the team that played against Conex than the one that played against Leinster. So I think it'll be close.
But, you know, home advantage Edinburgh haven't been easy to beat over over in Murrayfield. I would imagine that'll remain the same. Riscoe Thanks, Brian Terraza.
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