Tuesday, 24 May 2011

The North Will Rise Again

Sure, you’re pretty so y’are.
The Northern Hemisphere's glamourpuss event rolled out over the weekend - the Heineken Cup final between Leinster and Northampton in Cardiff - and it really was a fantastic 80 minutes of rugby, deserved of all the column inches and blogshite its generated in the days since it was played.

If ever the old cliché of rugby being 'a game of two halves' could be embossed in gold, under a framed image of a single match, this was it.

The opening whistle saw ploddy huge Saints steam into the Irish, and chuck it wide ... Ben Foden returning kicks with big runs especially.  The end result was that it ended up 22-6 to Northampton at halftime. Game over.

Surely the Leinster dressing room was the setting for one of sport's most rousing half-time talks? Their riposte was to take the field for the second 40 minutes and score an unchallenged 33 points, led by fly half Charlie Sexton's personal haul of 28 points. He really did steal the mantle of the best No. 10 up there in t'North ... this was his game, like Carter stole the second Test against the 2005 Lions. Magic.

Poor old Saints just did not have any gas in the tank, and their replacement cupboard was bare. They reverted to good old fashioned English 'killing it' and cynicism I thought, with Dylan Hartley as the poster boy.

As Eddie Butler pointed out in the Guardian: Leinster have now won the HC twice in three years, Irish teams have now won four of the last six, and Ireland spanked England last time out in the Six Nations. If this Irish momentum can last through summer, and get off the plane intact, they pose a threat to Australia at RWC. They will certainly target the Wallabies with confidence now, and who could blame them? With a 10 like Sexton, BOD recovering his form, and a battery of second rowers prepared to smash away all day, they could cause an upset.

Awesome atmosphere (again) for the Heineken Cup. Constant screaming and flag waving from both sets of fans, except for almost silence when kickers are lining up shots - you could hear a pin drop over that respectful hush. Nice.

I only hope we get to see even half that sort of atmosphere recreated here for World Cup games, though with the Fun Police out already, who knows.


Nursedude said...

I am really sorry I missed seeing this one live-I had to settle for highlights on youttube.

Tagger said...

It was a great game, one of the greatest ever in the H Cup possibly. Just one query, who is this charley Sexton that led Leinster to a 33 point second half display. 'tis Jonny Sexton, but you knew that already. :) Great blog. Keep it up.

slugso said...

Tagger - I think that is what happens when you secretly bash out a blog entry at work! Doh!

Ferdy said...

lu - this was a great blog! I've been meaning to leave a comment and thank you for writing up this game - because it really was a cracker. One of the best games I'd seen in quite some time and very reminiscent of a certain semi-final in 1999.

I don't know what the press is thinking all over the world, but I don't understand why they aren't writing up Ireland's chances a bit more for the RWC. In my opinion, they are looking good. They have a strong backline, their backrow is getting better and better, and if Charles (oops, Jonny) Sexton can keep his nerve (and his spot against an aging unimaginatie O'Gara) then I think Ireland could seriously threaten.

slugso said...

I just realised who Charlie Sexton is ... he is a dead character off Coronation St. How embarrassing.