The RaboDirect PRO 12 returned with a bang last weekend as there were thumping wins for Leinster and Ulster as well as the narrowest of victories for Scarlets over Edinburgh. There were a number of stand-out performances as JJ Hanrahan grabbed a double on his first Munster start while Eli Walker and Felix Jones were among those that caught the eye.
TRY OF THE WEEKEND
A number of contenders this week with Leinster and Ulster racking up nine and six tries respectively but it was another Irishman, Felix Jones, who scored the pick of the bunch.
Addled by injury problems in recent years, Jones finally made his first start of the season for Munster in their RaboDirect PRO12 victory over Zebre – and promptly showed them exactly what they had been missing. With the clock on 56 minutes Jones finished off a flowing move that swept both left and right with the kind of mazy run that had Irish fans in awe before injuries struck. It could be the first of many this season for the RaboDirect PRO12 ambassador.
BREAK OF THE WEEKEND
With just three minutes on the clock, David Kearney set the tone for Leinster against Cardiff Blues with a scything burst through the Welsh defence, coming off his right wing to collect Eoin Reddan’s quick pass.
It caught the Blues cold and Kearney had the presence of mind to find the supporting Gordon D’Arcy and in the following phase, Richardt Strauss barrelled his way over. Eight more tries followed for the European champions as the Blues, with eight internationals in their lineup, capitulated.
PLAY OF THE WEEKEND
With the clock ticking and with Ospreys desperate to secure a bonus point victory at home to Connacht, it appeared that a few handling errors and some stoic Irish defence may deny them.
That was until scrum-half Kahn Fotuali’i spotted a gap darted over from the back of the scrum. Connacht had soaked up plenty of pressure until then and appeared to have the solidity to withstand it – but they hadn’t accounted for the Samoan’s quick thinking which gave the RaboDirect PRO12 reigning champions a much-needed extra point following their slow start to the season.
PLAYER OF THE WEEKEND
Scoring two tries on your first start isn’t bad going by JJ Hanrahan, while Ruan Pienaar’s destruction of Newport Gwent Dragons from out-half displayed his unquestionable talent as well as his versatility and Tommy Seymour celebrated his Scotland call-up with two tries on a wet and windy night in Treviso.
Leinster have more than a handful of candidates after dismantling Cardiff Blues the way that they did but all of the above were just pipped by 20-year-old Ospreys flyer Eli Walker.
The Welsh management must be licking their lips at the prospect of yet another dashing winger who carved Connacht open at will. He doesn’t have the beef of George North or Alex Cuthbert but on Saturday’s showing, he has the footwork to more than make up for it.
It is becoming also a weekly occurrence but Scarlets and Wales flyer George North once again powered over for two tries against Edinburgh – one thanks to sharpness of mind, the to fleetness of foot.
That takes North’s tally to seven in the RaboDirect PRO12 this season but that’s still two behind Tim Visser, who made a try-scoring return for Edinburgh, lining up directly against North but doing his hopes of lining up alongside him in the summer the world of good.
Elsewhere, Justin Tipuric scored a fine try in an impressive performance for Ospreys which will have Sam Warburton looking over his shoulder and while most of the Leinster team impressed, Jamie Heaslip was perhaps the pick at No.8.