Media Watch: Cullen hails gritty Leinster and Darcy delights Cockerill

Will Jennings
19 January 2020

Share this article

It was another scintillating Saturday instalment of European action for several Guinness PRO14 clubs, with no fewer than eight of the Championship’s teams taking to the field on the continent.

And there were wins for Leinster, Glasgow Warriors and Ulster in the Heineken Champions Cup, while Scarlets, Edinburgh and Cardiff Blues triumphed in the Challenge Cup and Zebre drew against Bristol Bears.

We start Sunday’s Media Watch at defending Guinness PRO14 champions Leinster, whose 18-0 victory away at fellow Championship side Benetton – a game Leo Cullen had previously described as a ‘big and physical test’ – continued their imperious start to the season and made it six wins from six in European action.

And the Leinster head coach was delighted with his side’s efforts in Treviso, hailing their grit and determination in ‘digging out’ yet another win and progressing to the quarter-finals.

Staying in Ireland, Dan McFarland’s Ulster were another Guinness PRO14 side to book their place in the Champions Cup last eight, beating Bath 22-15 at the Kingspan Stadium to finish second in Pool 3.

And the head coach was in buoyant spirits about his side’s chances heading into the knockout stages, claiming his men were better equipped to launch an assault on the European trophy than they were last season.

Up to Scotland next, where Glasgow Warriors were in resurgent form to breeze past Sale Sharks 45-7 at the AJ Bell Stadium.

And that kept the Warriors in the hunt for the Champions Cup quarter-finals, with Dave Rennie now facing an anxious wait to see if his side will sneak through.

There was also a Guinness PRO14 Scottish side in Challenge Cup action, with Edinburgh beating Agen 36-0 at BT Murrayfield to finish second in Pool 3.

And head coach Richard Cockerill couldn’t speak highly enough of clinical winger Darcy Graham, who scored four tries in the victory to cap off an impressive pool campaign for the team from the capital, who will travel to Bordeaux-Bègles in the last eight.

Cardiff Blues had a mixed day of Challenge Cup action, picking up a dominant 64-3 victory over Rugby Calvisano but narrowly missing out on quarter-final qualification.

Scrum-half Lewis Jones crossed three times at Cardiff Arms Park and was over the moon to score his first hat-trick since Under-13 level, while head coach John Mulvihill was gracious in pool stage heartbreak as Blues had to settle for third in the pool behind Leicester Tigers and Pau.

Scarlets were more successful in their pursuit of the quarter-finals, however, beating London Irish 33-14 away from home to book a last eight clash at Toulon, sneaking through ahead of Pau as one of the best runners-up.

And while a trip to France may appear tricky to many onlookers, head coach Brad Mooar said he was ‘genuinely excited’ to cross swords with an undisputed European heavyweight.

Meanwhile, Zebre held unbeaten Bristol Bears 7-7 at home with their recent form even earning a congratulatory tweet from Azzurri legend Sergio Parisse.

That caps off today’s post-Saturday Media Watch, but be sure to keep your eyes peeled for a super Sunday of action in the Champions Cup as Munster host Ospreys and Connacht travel to Montpellier in their final game of the pool.

Share this article