Media Watch: Cockerill’s sin bin dismay and Cullen feeling frustrated

Peter White
22 December 2019

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Following two weeks of dramatic European action, Guinness PRO14 Rugby returned with a bang, as the big derby weekend delivered thrills and spills just in time for Christmas.

Sunday’s media watch starts in Scotland, where the hotly-anticipated 1872 Cup lived up to its billing as George Turner’s late try secured a thrilling win for Glasgow Warriors.

But the match will be largely remembered for the five yellow cards that were awarded by referee Ben Blain, and Edinburgh head coach Richard Cockerill has spoken of his dismay at hooker Stuart McInally’s sin-binning.

While Cockerill claims McInally’s tackle was merely an accident, the former Leicester Tigers boss conceded his side weren’t good enough on the day, while his opposite number Dave Rennie was buoyed by his team’s showing.

The Australia coach-in-waiting admitted there were too many infringements on display in what was a hotly-contested encounter, but believes there were plenty of positives for him to take into the reverse fixture on Saturday.

In Ireland, double-defending champions Leinster kicked off Round 8 with a thrilling 54-42 win over Ulster to maintain their 100 per cent start to the season, but head coach Leo Cullen insisted the result left his side with plenty to work on.

The Dublin-based outfit allowed their visitors to score three tries in the last 15 minutes, and Ulster chief Dan McFarland spoke of his pride at the way his young side – which included four senior debutants off the bench – battled for their bonus point.

Elsewhere on the Emerald Isle, Connacht’s attempt to claim a stunning comeback win for the second week running came up short at home to Conference B leaders Munster, and while Andy Friend identified promising periods of play, he admitted his side were far from their best.

In Wales, Dragons laid down a marker with an impressive win over 2016/17 champions Scarlets, and man-of-the-match Sam Davies expressed his belief that teams now fear a trip to Rodney Parade, and that his side are going in the right direction under boss Dean Ryan.

But after their disappointing home defeat to Cardiff Blues, Ospreys’ weekend got even worse as it was confirmed that midfield powerhouse Owen Watkin is to be out of action for eight weeks due to the cartilage injury he sustained earlier this month.

Ospreys remain tied on eight points with Zebre at the bottom of Conference A, with the Italians suffering their seventh defeat of the season at home to Benetton.

The conditions on show at that closely-fought contest in Parma are described as having reduced the match to an “old fashioned” affair, with last season’s quarter-finalists emerging from the mud on top.

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