Tag Archives: Fionn Carr

RaboDirect Round-Up

PRO12 Round 14 Matches


Leinster 42-8 Treviso 

Thursday 9th February @ The RDS


Shane Jennings and Richardt Strauss helped Leinster to a win over Treviso at the RDS. (c) Ken Bohane.

Leinster lead the PRO12 by ten points after their fourth try-scoring bonus point win of the season. You can read the full match report on the Treviso game here. The Italians gave Leinster a tough battle in the first-half, but in the end tries from Ian Madigan, Richardt Strauss, Isa Nacewa, John Cooney and Fionn Carr allowed Joe Schmidt’s side to pull well clear. Man of the Match Nacewa added 17 points from the tee as part of a truly complete individual performance.

Carr, Madigan and Shane Jennings all had strong showings while the young centre partnership of Collie O’Shea and Brendan Macken, 21 and 20 respectively, gave plenty of promising signs. With eight games left before the PRO12 play-offs, Leinster continue to look good for a home quarter-final. Next up, they welcome the 7th-placed Scarlets to the RDS on Friday .

Here’s the highlights of the Leinster vs. Treviso game:


Ulster 30-12 Dragons

Friday 10th February @ Ravenhill

Ulster move up to 5th in the table after their fourth consecutive bonus point win at Ravenhill. Crucially, Brian McLaughlin’s men are now only 2 points behind 4th-placed Munster, although the southern province do have a game in hand. Friday night’s win didn’t see Ulster dominate but they still had far too much for a poor Dragons side. Get the full match report here. Tries from Robbie Diack, Ruan Pienaar, Craig Gilroy and Stefan Terblanche did the damage for Ulster. Pienaar added 10 points with the boot.

The second try, started and finished by Pienaar, showed Ulster at their best with the ball flashing through 10 pairs of hands as they attacked from inside their own half. It’s well worth a look below. That passage of play will have been particularly pleasing for Brian McLaughlin in a week that brought the public revelation of Ulster’s long-standing decision not to renew his contract as coach for next season. McLaughlin remains focused on the job though, and Ulster’s play-off push continues away to the Cardiff Blues on Friday.

Here’s the four Ulster tries against the Dragons:


Cardiff Blues 22-15 Connacht

Friday 10th February @ Cardiff Arms Park

The Scrum Collapses

Connacht lost to the Blues in Cardiff. (c) Sum_of_Marc.

In their first match since the historic 9-8 win over Harlequins last month, Connacht reverted to old habits as they failed to take several try-scoring opportunities in Cardiff. Tries from Tiernan O’Halloran and Dave Moore, as well as a conversion and penalty from the boot of Niall O’Connor, weren’t enough to get a win against the Blues. However, the losing bonus point gained through Moore’s late try sees Connacht move up a place in the PRO12 table.

O’Halloran put in another promising display on the wing, scoring one and setting up the other try. Coach Eric Elwood will have felt a familiar frustration though as Connacht failed to finish off some good breaks throughout the game. On Saturday, the western province host Glasgow Warriors at the Sportsground. Elwood will be keen to ensure his side don’t go back on a run of losses. Connacht sit 10th in the table now, with Edinburgh just 5 points ahead in 9th. A few wins in the remainder of the season will be the target.


Aironi vs. Munster


Rugby Snow

Ireland vs. France wasn't the only fixture disrupted because of the cold weather last weekend. (c) Olivier Pechenet.

Munster’s game in northern Italy was postponed due to the freezing weather in the region. Aironi’s Stadio Zaffanella was heavily covered with snow all week, forcing the game to be rescheduled. This fixture will now take place on the 11th of March.

Glasgow Warriors’ win over the Scarlets on Thursday sees them jump above Munster in the table. Sitting 4th, Munster do have a game in hand. Despite, the disruption to their schedule, Tony McGahan has refocused his side’s attention to Saturday, when Munster travel to Italy to take on Benneton Treviso.


Here’s the latest PRO12 table:


Photos courtesy:  Ken Bohane, Olivier Pechenet, Sum_of_Marc.

Leinster Cut Loose Against Treviso

Match Report

Leinster 42-8 Treviso

Thursday 9th February @ The RDS


Fullback Isa Nacewa was Man of The Match after a 20-point haul. (c) Ken Bohane.

Four tries in the last twenty minutes gave Leinster a comfortable win over Treviso at the RDS. Joe Schmidt’s side now lead the PRO12 by 14 points, although they have played a game more than the rest of the league. Isa Nacewa put in a Man of the Match performance as he showed his class in attack and defence. Ian Madigan at outhalf put in yet another promising display, while Fionn Carr and Shane Jennings showed Ireland coach Declan Kidney what he is missing.

In wet conditions, Leinster were made to work hard in the first-half. Nacewa opened the scoring from the tee after a superb kick chase by himself and Brendan Macken resulted in a turnover penalty. Treviso leveled the score when outhalf Alberto Di Bernardo took advantage of Leinster’s poor line speed to scuff over a drop goal.

It took twenty minutes for Leinster to get into their attacking stride but they did so to great effect as Madigan touched down. Carr made a strong carry from Isaac Boss’ pass and then Leo Auva’a supplied Madigan. The 22-year-old outhalf showed good strength to fend off Alberto Chillon as he broke through the Treviso defence for the first try of the game.

Side entry at a ruck by the Italians allowed Nacewa to knock over another penalty, giving Leinster an 11-3 half-time lead. Treviso came out from the break extremely fired up and took the game to Leinster for the opening 15 minutes of the half. Another Nacewa penalty gave Leinster respite but Treviso came again. After switching down the blindside, replacement prop Pedro di Santo took advantage of a bad defensive decision by Nathan White to put front-row partner Matteo Muccignat over. Di Bernardo missed with the conversion.


Fionn Carr was a stand-out performer on the wing. (c) Ken Bohane.

Realising they had a game on their hands, Leinster reacted the way they know best, through all-out attack. A searing break from Carr resulted in Richardt Strauss bashing over from a few metres out. Nacewa converted that try then scored the next one himself. Switching swiftly to the blindside, the Fijian released substitute Dave Kearney down the left-hand touchline and took the winger’s return pass to cross the whitewash. The fullback was on target once again with the conversion.

The Leinster scoring continued as Treviso lost all hope. Nacewa was at the centre of the next try as he pierced through the Italians’ defence from a floated Madigan pass. The fullback drew the last defender and popped inside to replacement scrumhalf John Cooney, only on the pitch a minute. Nacewa added the extras from under the posts.

With the Leinster bench emptied by now, several of the youngsters showed up well in a very open final ten minutes. Some lovely touches from Noel Reid in the centre put Madigan in position to feed Carr with a cross-kick. The pacy winger was left one-on-one with second-row Francesco Minto and there was only ever going to be one outcome. Carr stepped the desperate tackle and scored in the left-hand corner. A well-struck Madigan conversion topped off an accomplished Leinster display.

With both sides missing their international players, this game had the potential to be a damp squib. Leinster’s exciting attacking play ensured that a satisfied RDS crowd and a satisfied Joe Schmidt. His attention now turns to the visit of the Scarlets in a week’s time. Schmidt will be encouraged by what he saw from young players like Collie O’Shea and Brendan Macken. The strength in depth of this Leinster squad is evidently increasing.

Leinster: 15. Isa Nacewa (Carr, 75), 14. Darren Hudson, 13. Brendan Macken, 12. Colm O’Shea (Reid, 67), 11. Fionn Carr (Kearney, 64), 10. Ian Madigan, 9. Isaac Boss (Cooney, 69), 8. Leo Auva’a (Ruddock, 56), 7. Shane Jennings, 6. Kevin McLaughlin (capt.), 5. Devin Toner, 4. Damian Browne (Flanagan, 64), 3. Nathan White (Hagan, 56), 2. Richardt Strauss (Sexton, 69), 1. Heinke van der Merwe (McGrath, 64).                                                                                                            Subs: 16. Tom Sexton, 17. Jack McGrath, 18. Jamie Hagan, 19. Mark Flanagan, 20. Rhys Ruddock, 21. John Cooney, 22. Noel Reid.


Photos courtesy: Ken Bohane.


Here’s the highlights of the game:

RaboDirect PRO12 Round 10 Previews

Ulster vs. Scarlets @ Ravenhill

Friday 2nd November (19.05) on BBCNI

Rory Best returns at hooker. Photo via Alex Sanz

Ulster are the first province into action this weekend when they take on the in-form Scarlets at Ravenhill. Ulster are on a poor run in the PRO12, winning only one of their last six fixtures. However, their form at Ravenhill is reassuring. Brian McLaughlin’s side have lost only one of their last twelve games in Belfast. Meanwhile, the Scarlets are on an eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions, seven wins and one draw away to the Ospreys. Last weekend, the Scarlets had a 22-12 victory over the Newport Gwent Dragons to move up to sixth in the table. Ulster lost 19-9 to Glasgow to drop to eighth.

The Scarlets are missing 8 of their key players who are in camp with Wales ahead of the international clash with Australia. There are still familiar names in their side with Stephen Jones captaining at outhalf and strong-running Scot Sean Lamont on the wing. New signing Viliame Iongi starts on the other wing. The pacy utility back featured for Tonga at the recent World Cup. Welsh international Rob McCusker starts at openside while Fiji captain Deacon Manu lines up at tighthead. Elsewhere, the Scarlets Head of Rugby, Nigel Davies, has put his trust in youth with the likes of Daniel Evens, Nick Reynolds, Gareth Davies and Mat Gilbert all under the age of 23.

Ulster are boosted by the return of their big-name players. Stephen Ferris, Rory Best, Chris Henry and Craig Gilroy all return after being rested last weekend. New Zealand international John Afoa has returned from a trip home and comes in at tighthead. Ruan Pienaar is back in the squad for the first time since injuring a hamstring when Ulster travelled to the Scarlets in October. Adam D’Arcy holds onto the fullback slot as Simon Danielli drops out of the match-day squad.

These sides met as recently as the 29th of October, when the Scarlets came out on top with a 24-17 win at Parc y Scarlets. The line-ups were similar to this weekend’s, but crucially Ulster were without Ferris and Best. The Scarlets haven’t won in Ireland since beating Connacht in January 2009. This is a vital match for Ulster’s season as they aim to make a move back up the PRO12 table. For that reason, expect an improved Ulster performance and a win to go with it.

Connacht vs. Treviso @ The Sportsground

Friday 2nd November (19.30) 

Brendan Williams is on the wing for Treviso. Photo via Alex Sanz

Connacht have now gone seven matches without a win in all competitions following their 17-9 loss to the Ospreys last Saturday. It was late September the last time Eric Elwood’s men enjoyed a win and they need to arrest this run of form this weekend. Treviso certainly don’t present an easy opportunity to get that elusive win, as they have been increasingly impressive this season, securing a draw with the Ospreys and running Leinster close in their two most recent fixtures. Treviso sit seventh in the league table, two places above Connacht, but only four points separate the sides.

After last weekend’s poor showing against the Ospreys, Elwood has made several changes in a bid to freshen his team. Ethienne Reynecke and Ronan Loughney come into the front row while Michael Swift comes into the second-row. David Gannon drops back to blindside. There’s a new half-back partnership with Frank Murphy and Niall O’Connor given the chance to impress. With Eoin Griffin injured, recent signing Kyle Tonetti comes into the centre and will hope to inject some creativity into the Connacht backline. Out wide, Mark McCrea starts on the right wing.

For Treviso, a big, experienced pack includes Italian internationals Michele Rizzo, Franco Sbaraglini, Ignacio Rouyet, Manoa Vosawai and Paul Derbyshire. Scrumhalf Fabio Semenzato is Italy’s first-choice 9 and can be a tricky customer. Kris Burton is dropped after missing three important kicks against Leinster last weekend, so South African Willem de Waal comes in at outhalf. The 34-year-old Ezio Galon comes into the centre and Connacht’s Tonetti should look to use his pace against the ex-Italy international.

This is a Treviso side who are starting to believe in themselves as they become more and more accustomed to the PRO12 league. The days of an easy win against this Italian team are long gone. Still, with home advantage, their strong desire to end their long losing streak, and a fresh-looking team, Connacht should end their losing streak this weekend.

Leinster vs. Cardiff Blues @ The RDS

Friday 2nd November (20.05) on TG4

McFadden starts at inside centre. Photo via M+MD

Leinster are the third Irish province in action on Friday night as they host the Cardiff Blues at the RDS. Leinster had a hard-earned 30-20 win over Treviso last weekend, while the Blues ran riot in the second half to beat Aironi 38-0. Cardiff have won their last four, including Heineken Cup wins over Racing Metro and London Irish. Leinster also come into this tie in great form, unbeaten in eight games. Cardiff have been greatly weakened by international call-ups for Wales’ match with Australia on Saturday.

Sam Warburton, Jamie Roberts and Leigh Halfpenny are amongst the eight Blues players away with the Wales squad. Despite those losses, the Blues can still name Wales internationals outhalf Chris Czekaj, Tom James, John Yapp, Richie Rees and Ceri Sweeney in their side. The New Zealand-capped Xavier Rush starts at No.8 while Paul Tito captains their side from second-row. Centre Casey Lualala has been capped by the All Blacks too and can be a real threat when he’s in the mood.

For Leinster, Isa Nacewa returns at fullback. David Kearney comes in on the right wing, meaning Fergus McFadden moves to inside centre. Eoin O’Malley and Fionn Carr keep their places in the backline. Ian Madigan is retained at outhalf after a confident showing against Treviso. Isaac Boss replaces Eoin Reddan at scrumhalf. In the front row, Richardt Strauss and Nathan White are chosen alongside Cian Healy. Steven Sykes is given a chance to impress beside captain Leo Cullen in the second-row. Sean O’Brien has been selected at No.8 and he is joined in the back-row by Rhys Ruddock and Shane Jennings. Joe Schmidt has also named a strong bench including Jonathan Sexton, Rob Kearney and Mike Ross.

It’s a formidable-looking Leinster squad on paper. With Cardiff missing so many of their stars Leinster are odds-on favourites for a win at the RDS. Schmidt will hope Munster can do him a favour by beating the Ospreys on Saturday. With a win of their own, that should leave Leinster sitting pretty with the outright lead of the PRO12.

Ospreys vs. Munster @ Liberty Stadium 

Saturday 3rd November (18.30) on RTE2

Gough and Bennett add experience to the Ospreys pack. Photo via Chris Jobling

Munster travel to the table-topping Ospreys for a Saturday evening kick-off. The Ospreys have only lost one match in their nine PRO12 fixtures so far. That loss came at the end of October away to Glasgow. Since then, the Ospreys have won two of their four matches, drawing the other two. Last time out, the Ospreys had a 17-6 win over a poor Connacht side. As with the other Welsh sides this weekend, the Ospreys are weakened by the poorly-scheduled international test against Australia.

The Ospreys have six players in that Welsh match-day squad, including hooker Huw Bennett and outhalf Dan Biggar. Shane Williams plays his last game for Wales before retiring from international rugby. Despite these losses, the Ospreys can still field a decent team. Munster’s backline will be well aware of the threat Tommy Bowe poses. Richard Fussell on the opposite wing can be dangerous on the ball too. Welsh international Andrew Bishop starts in midfield, while 19-year-old outhalf Matthew Morgan is a real prodigy. 22-year-old scrumhalf Rhys Webb is another young player with fantastic potential.

In the front row, 57-times capped Duncan Jones and Richard Hibbard are ex-internationals. Jonathan Thomas and the combative Ian Gough have 131 Welsh caps between them in the second-row. Tom Smith captains the Ospreys from the back-row, where he is joined by Joe Bearman and James King.

For Munster, there is an exciting blend of youth and players on form. Denis Hurley keeps his place at fullback, as does Simon Zebo on the wing. Doug Howlett makes up the  back-three. Will Chambers and Danny Barnes are both retained in midfield. The half-backs are also unchanged, Ian Keatley and Tomas O’Leary.

In the pack, BJ Botha returns and is joined in the front-row by Damien Varley and Marcus Horan. Donnacha O’Callaghan and Donnacha Ryan make up the second-row. In a completely new back-row, Denis Leamy and Niall Ronan are alongside captain Peter O’Mahony. It is a strong Munster team and clearly Tony McGahan is targeting this opportunity to move ahead of the weakened Ospreys. Even without their front-line international players, the Ospreys are still a formidable proposition. However, Munster don’t often miss opportunities like this one. An away win for Munster should be the outcome.

Photos courtesy:  Alex Sanz, M+MD, Chris Jobling