The best of the RaboDirect PRO12 in Europe round two


In the second week of European action Irish trio Leinster, Ulster and Munster picked up valuable wins while Treviso and Connacht almost pulled off shock victories over Toulouse and Harlequins respectively. Scarlets centre Gareth Maule, Munster scrum-half Conor Murray and Treviso fly-half Kris Burton were among the RaboDirect PRO12 players to impress us this weekend.

Not many people go head-to-head with Brian O’Driscoll and emerge with credit but Gareth Maule stood up the Irish and former British & Irish Lions skipper to score the pick of the tries from this weekend.
With his side trailing 14-3 Maule provided a spark as he showed his pace to round O’Driscoll on the outside before escaping the retreating Leinster defence to score his second try of the season. Unfortunately for Maule and coach Simon Easterby it was not enough to avoid defeat to Leinster.

Glasgow Warriors were the latest side to succumb to the Ulster juggernaut, slipping to a 19-8 defeat to Mark Anscombe’s side at Scotstoun.
However despite a number of absences in their backline, with Fijian scrum-half Nikola Matawalu again required on the wing, the Warriors did manage one of the moments of the weekend. No.8 Ryan Wilson made a blistering break in the closing stages only to be hauled down just short of the line before replacement Scott Wight’s pinpoint kick allowed Matawalu to score the Warriors’ only try.

The Heineken Cup has already shown the dangers of taking tap penalties but up against English champions Harlequins, Connacht needed a quick start. No.8 George Naoupu took a gamble in the early minutes when the Irish side were awarded a penalty and from his quick-thinking the ball was recycled for Dan Parks who sent centre Dave McSharry over for the game’s first try.

Facing French giants Toulouse few people gave Benetton Treviso a hope of causing an upset but after 50 minutes the shock was very much on with the Italian side leading 21-12.
The architect of that lead was Italian international Kris Burton, who slotted seven penalties from as many attempts to take advantage of the French side’s indiscipline.
Unfortunately for Treviso their efforts eventually went unrewarded with the Toulouse bench turning the tide in a 33-21 success.

Conor Murray endured a difficult weekend at the Stade de France a week ago when his error late on allowed Racing Metro to move into a lead they would never relinquish. It was a different story against RaboDirect PRO12 rivals Edinburgh as his Man of the Match display helped Munster get their European campaign back on track with a bonus-point success.
Ryan Jones knows better than most the importance of timing when it comes to Lions selection, having come from nowhere to play a leading role in 2005 before becoming a surprise omission from the initial squad in 2009. This season he looks to be approaching his best form and underlined that with a try from close-range against Leicester on Sunday.
On form from the kicking tee last weekend, Jonny Sexton again impressed, this time with some outstanding kicking out of hand. Firstly with a cross-field kick to Isa Nacewa who expertly finished Leinster’s first try, before the fly-half slotted a 48-yard drop goal early in the second half.

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