One down, three to go

Guinness PRO12 Editor

4 Apr 2011

RonanOGaraApril2011

If ever you wanted a player to carry the pressure and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat then it would be difficult to look past Ronan O’Gara.

Once again Munster’s legendary points machine came to his side’s rescue with seconds remaining in another epic Magners League clash between Ireland’s top two sides, Munster and Leinster.

O’Gara’s metronomic strike at the end of a titanic tussle at Thomond Park ended Leinster five match winning run over their southern rivals and extended Munster’s unbeaten home run in the league and Europe this season to 12 games.

But even more significantly, the 23-22 victory made Munster the first qualifiers for this season’s Magners League Play-Offs. With 71 points already in the bag, and 16 victories, only Ulster, the Blues and Ospreys can overtake them.

Leinster can reach a maximum of 71 points, but they can only manage 15 victories. That means they cannot now overtake Munster if they draw level on points as the next factor in calculating position is league wins.

As it stands, Munster need one more victory to guarantee finishing top of the Magners League regular season and a home game in the Play-Off semi-finals. Two more points will be good enough to guarantee them a home game in the Play-Off semi-finals.

Ulster’s climb into second place was aided by the Blues drawing 21-21 at the Liberty Stadium with reigning champions the Ospreys. Now they are in the mix to push not only for their debut in the Play-Offs, but also a possible home assignment at fortress Ravenhill.

Leinster coach Joe Schmidt believes his side will now have to win the title the hard way after their defeat in Limerick, but with two home games to come their Play-Off destiny is still very much in their own hands. One of those home assignments is against Ulster at the RDS on Saturday, 16 April.

The outcome of that game could have a huge bearing on who finishes second and is one of seven games between the top seven contenders for the Play-Off places.

Munster have to travel to meet the Scarlets and Ospreys before the season ends, while Ulster also have to go to Rodney Parade on the last weekend of the season to face the Dragons.

The Dragons picked up a bonus point in their win over Benetton Treviso last weekend and are fighting on two fronts – to reach the Play-Offs and to finish among the top three Welsh regions in order to qualify for the Heineken Cup next season.

They cannot afford to fail in their final four matches, three of which are at home against fellow contenders the Ospreys, Blues and Ulster. The same is probably true for the Scarlets, who host both Munster and the Blues in their final three outings.

It all adds up to an enthralling and nerve-jangling end to the regular Magners League season with everyone wishing they could have an ice-cool Ronan O’Gara on their side!

CURRENT Magners League STANDINGS           

                                    P         W        D         L          PD      TF       BP      Pts

1          Munster          19        16        0          3          144     39        7          71

2          Ulster              19        13        1          5          52        36        5          59

3          Ospreys          19        11        1          7          139     51        11        57

4          Leinster          19        12        1          6          104     39        6          56

5          Blues              18        11        1          6          81        29        6          52

6          Scarlets          19        10        1          8          34        40        9          51

7          Dragons         18        8          1          9          -16      37        5          39

8          Connacht        19        7          1          11        -24      31        9          39

9          Edinburgh      19        7          0          12        -43      32        6          34

10        Warriors         19        6          1          12        -96      29        6          32

11        Treviso           19        7          0          12        -136    25        2          30

12        Aironi              19        1          0          18        -239    17        7          11

 

GAMES LEFT          CURRENT POINTS            MAXIMUM POINTS

Munster          3                                  71                                            86                               

Ulster              3                                  59                                            74                               

Ospreys          3                                  57                                            72                               

Leinster          3                                  56                                            71                               

Blues              4                                  52                                            72                               

Scarlets          3                                  51                                            66                               

Dragons         4                                  39                                            59       

 

Magners League REMAINING FIXTURES 2010/11

Round 20

Fri 15 Apr       19:05  Dragons          v        Ospreys        Rodney Parade        

Fri 15 Apr       19:45  Connacht          v        Blues              Sportsground            

Fri 15 Apr       19:50  Edinburgh        v        Aironi              Murrayfield    

Sat 16 Apr     15:00  Treviso             v        Warriors         Stadio di Monigo     

Sat 16 Apr     18:15  Scarlets           v        Munster         Parc y Scarlets                     

Sat 16 Apr     20:00  Leinster           v        Ulster            RDS   

Round 21

Thu 21 Apr     19:05  Blues                v        Treviso           Cardiff City Stadium            

Fri 22 Apr       19:05  Ulster                v        Connacht        Ravenhill        

Fri 22 Apr       19:30  Edinburgh        v        Dragons         Murrayfield    

Fri 22 Apr       20:05  Warriors           v        Scarlets          Firhill Stadium                      

Sat 23 Apr     14:30  Aironi                v        Leinster          Stadio Zaffanella      

Sat 23 Apr     18:30  Ospreys          v        Munster         Liberty Stadium                    

Re-arranged Game

Fri 29 Apr       16:05  Dragons          v        Blues             Rodney Parade        

Round 22

Fri 6 May        19:05  Leinster            v        Warriors         RDS

Fri 6 May        19:05  Munster            v        Connacht        Thomond Park          

Fri 6 May        19:05  Dragons          v        Ulster             Rodney Parade        

Fri 6 May        19:05  Scarlets           v        Blues             Parc y Scarlets         

Fri 6 May        20:05  Aironi                v        Ospreys          Stadio Zaffanella      

Fri 6 May        20:05  Treviso             v        Edinburgh      Stadio di Monigo     

Play-Off Semi-Finals

Fri 13 May    19:05

Sat 14 May    18:30

Magners League GRAND FINAL

Sat 28 May    17:05