Tag Archives: Mamuka Gorgodze

Heineken Cup Round 6 Previews

Connacht vs. Harlequins @ The Sportsground

Friday 20th January (20.00) Sky Sports 1

Danny Care has been involved in off-the-field controversy recently but starts at 9 for Harlequins. (c) Vincent Cornelius.

Connacht make just one change from the team that went down bravely against Toulouse last weekend. Ronan Loughney comes back in at tighthead meaning Dylan Rogers drops to the bench. Connacht’s injury list is crippling at the moment so Elwood doesn’t really have the option to change much else. He will expect a similar effort to last week and hope that Connacht can take the chances they create. Several try-scoring opportunities were left behind in Toulouse.

Harlequins also make a single change to their starting team. Wing Tom Williams has stayed in England with his first child on the way. Sam Smith is his replacement. Fullback Mike Brown was recently named Aviva Premiership Player of the Month for December and will have to be watched closely. Matt Hopper is a livewire at 13. Chris Robshaw captains the side at openside flanker.

Connacht will hope to go out of the Heineken Cup with a bang tonight. Harlequins come to Galway still in the hunt for a quarter-final spot so it would be massively surprising to see Eric Elwood’s men end their losing streak. However, Connacht will give everything to the cause in search of a first Heineken Cup win. The Sportsground is a sell-out as Connacht fans hope to see another performance like that against Toulouse last week. A Connacht win would be mean Ulster definitely going through to the quarter-finals, as one of the best placed runners-up. Here’s hoping!

Verdict: Harlequins, just.

Connacht: 15 Gavin Duffy (capt.), 14 Fetu’u Vainikolo, 13 Kyle Tonetti, 12 Dave McSharry, 11 Tiernan O’Halloran, 10 Niall O’Connor, 9 Paul O’Donohoe, 1 Brett Wilkinson, 2 Adrian Flavin, 3 Ronan Loughney, 4 Michael Swift, 5 Mike McCarthy, 6 John Muldoon, 7 Ray Ofisa, 8 George Naoupu.
Subs: 16 Ethienne Reynecke, 17 Dennis Buckley, 18 Dylan Rogers, 19 Mick Kearney, 20 Eoin McKeon, 21 Dave Moore, 22 Miah Nikora, 23 Henry Fa’afili.

Harlequins: 15 Mike Brown, 14 Ugo Monye, 13 Matt Hopper, 12 Jordan Turner-Hall, 11 Sam Smith, 10 Nick Evans, 9 Danny Care, 1 Joe Marler, 2 Chris Brooker, 3 James Johnston, 4 Tomas Vallejos, 5 George Robson, 6 Maurie Faasavalu, 7 Chris Robshaw (capt.), 8 Nick Easter.
Subs: 16 Joe Gray, 17 Mark Lambert, 18 Tim Fairbrother, 19 Ollie Kohn, 20 Luke Wallace, 21 Richard Bolt, 22 Rory Clegg, 23 Tom Casson.

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Leinster vs. Montpellier @ The RDS

Saturday 21st January (13.30) Sky Sports 1

Leinster are hoping for fireworks on Saturday. (c) Art Widak.

Joe Schmidt has made several changes to the team that secured a quarter-final spot with a 23-16 win in Glasgow last weekend. After being left out of the Ireland set-up, Jamie Hagan comes in for Mike Ross as tighthead. Damien Browne replaces Devin Toner in the second-row while Richardt Strauss is in for Sean Cronin at hooker. Rhys Ruddock is at blindside flanker, with Shane Jennings dropping to the bench.

In the backs, Isaac Boss is preferred to Eoin Reddan at scrumhalf this time around. Jonathan Sexton continues at 10 despite picking up an ankle injury last weekend. In the centre, Gordon D’Arcy is partnered by Eoin O’Malley this week, with Fergus McFadden moving to the right wing. David Kearney drops out of the squad completely.

Despite already being out of the tournament, Montpellier have named their strongest available side. They have included French international half-back pairing Julien Tomas and Francois Trinh-Duc. In the back row, Fulgence Ouedraogo and Mamuka Gorgodze are key men. Ex-Ulster man Timoci Nagusa starts on the right wing.

A  bonus-point win for Leinster would guarantee them a home quarter-final and that should certainly be their target. A normal 4 point win would secure that home QF spot too, unless Ulster get a bonus-point win in Clermont. Although Montpellier have surprisingly named a full-strength team, Leinster have more than enough to comfortably overcome the French side.

Verdict: Bonus-point win for Leinster.

Leinster: 15 Rob Kearney, 14 Fergus McFadden, 13 Eoin O’Malley, 12 Gordon D’Arcy, 11 Isa Nacewa, 10 Johnny Sexton, 9 Isaac Boss, 8 Jamie Heaslip, 7 Sean O’Brien, 6 Rhys Ruddock, 5 Damian Browne, 4 Leo Cullen, 3 Jamie Hagan, 2 Richardt Strauss, 1 Cian Healy.
Subs: 16 Sean Cronin, 17 Heinke Van der Merwe, 18 Mike Ross, 19 Devin Toner, 20 Shane Jennings, 21 Eoin Reddan, 22 Ian Madigan, 23 Fionn Carr.

Montpellier: 15 Lucas Amorosino, 14 Timoci Nagusa, 13 Yoan Audrin, 12 Paul Bosch, 11 Martin Bustos Moyano, 10 Francois Trinh-Duc, 9 Julien Tomas, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Mamuka Gorgodze, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Mickael Demarco, 4 Drickus Hancke, 3 George Jgenti, 2 Agustin Creevy, 1 Na’ama Leleimalefaga.
Subs: 16 Rassie van Vuuren, 17 Juan Figallo, 18 Maximiliano Bustos, 19 Joe Tuineau, 20 Vassili Bost, 21 Benoit Paillaugue, 22 Santiago Fernandez, 23 Geoffrey Doumayrou.

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Clermont vs. Ulster @ Stade Marcel Michelin

Saturday 21st January (15.40) Sky Sports 1

Clermont are unbeaten at home in over two years. (c) Chris Brown.

This could be the game of the weekend. Two in-form teams, some world-class players, a sold-out 18,000 crowd,  and the winner goes through to the quarter-finals. What more could you want?

Ulster coach Brian McLaughlin has made just one chance to the team that hammered Leicester last weekend. Darren Cave has been ruled out for up to six weeks with a foot injury sustained in that win. Ian Whitten is his replacement. Elsewhere it’s as you were. Johann Muller captains the side from the second-row once again.

The Clermont team looks incredibly strong on paper. Welshman Lee Byrne is at fullback. Sitiveni Sivivatu and Julien Malzieu make up a potent-looking back-three. Aurelien Rougerie and the supremely talented Wesley Fofana start in midfield. Half-backs Morgan Parra and David Skrela make up a strong back-line. Up front, there’s six more internationals including Julien Bonnaire at No.8 and Nathan Hines in the second-row.

A win for Ulster would most likely get them a home quarter-final. And a win is certainly possible, especially if the northern province can recreate the performance of last weekend. Clermont are unbeaten in the Stade Marcel Michelin since November 2009. In the last 36 games there, only seven of the visiting teams have picked up losing bonus points. Even if they lose, Ulster can still top the group if – 1) they prevent Clermont getting a try-scoring bonus point 2) get a losing bonus point themselves and 3) either score more tries than Clermont in the game or lose by less than five points.  Whatever happens, this one will be well worth watching.

Verdict: Clermont by 2 or 3 points, so Ulster to go through.

Clermont: 15 Lee Byrne, 14 Sitiveni Sivivatu, 13 Aurélien Rougerie, 12 Wesley Fofana, 11 Julien Malzieu, 10 David Skrela, 9 Morgan Parra, 8 Julien Bonnaire (capt.), 7 Julien Bardy, 6 Gerhard Vosloo, 5 Nathan Hines, 4 Julien Pierre, 3 Clément Ric, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Lionel Faure.                                                        Subs: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Daniel Coetzee, 19 Jamie Cudmore, 20 Alexandre Lapandry, 21 Kevin Senio, 22 Brock James, 23 Regan King.

Ulster: 15 Stefan Terblanche, 14 Andrew Trimble, 13 Ian Whitten, 12 Paddy Wallace, 11 Craig Gilroy, 10 Ian Humphreys, 9 Ruan Pienaar, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Chris Henry, 6 Stephen Ferris, 5 Dan Tuohy, 4 Johann Muller (capt.), 3 John Afoa, 2 Rory Best, 1 Tom Court.                                                            Subs: 16 Andi Kyriacou, 17 Callum Black, 18 Adam Macklin, 19 Lewis Stevenson, 20 Willie Faloon, 21 Paul Marshall, 22 Nevin Spence, 23 Adam D’Arcy.

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Northampton vs. Munster @ stadium:mk

Saturday 21st January (18.00) Sky Sports 1

Munster look to make it six wins from six in Pool 1. (c) Ivan O'Riordan.

Another massive game in the final round of Heineken Cup pool games. Munster secured a quarter-final spot by beating Castres last weekend but will be hoping for the win that would guarantee them a vital home QF. Northampton are out of this tournament but still have a chance of dropping into the Amlin. Revenge will be on the cards for them too after Ronan O’Gara’s late drop-goal in Thomond Park derailed their season.

Munster have been forced into making one change from last week. Niall Ronan’s season is over, with the openside set for surgery on his cruciate injury. Donncha O’Callaghan replace Ronan, meaning Donnacha Ryan moves back to the blindside. Peter O’Mahony switches to openside. David O’Callaghan comes onto the bench for the first time in Heineken Cup.

The Saints have dropped Chris Ashton after he announced his decision to join Saracens next summer. Jamie Elliot takes his place on the wing. Ryan Lamb is back at outhalf after Steven Myler started against the Scarlets last weekend. Lee Dickson returns at scrumhalf while James Downey starts at inside centre.

There’s a temptation to write off Munster for this one. They have been winning games all season but their performances have been far from complete, by their own admission. Northampton will be desperate to get one over on Munster and do have something to play for in terms of Amlin qualification. But writing Munster off is always a dangerous game. They may not be playing the best rugby in the tournament but it hasn’t prevented them from winning yet. A tough one to call.

Verdict: Northampton by 5 points.

Northampton Saints: 15 Ben Foden, 14 Jamie Elliott, 13 George Pisi, 12 James Downey, 11 Vasily Artemyev, 10 Ryan Lamb, 9 Lee Dickson, 8 Roger Wilson, 7 Phil Dowson, 6 Calum Clark, 5 Mark Sorenson, 4 Samu Manoa, 3 Brian Mujati, 2 Dylan Hartley (capt.), 1 Soane Tonga’uiha.

Subs: 16 Brett Sharman, 17 Alex Waller, 18 Paul Doran Jones, 19 Christian Day, 20 Ben Nutley, 21 Martin Roberts, 22 Stephen Myler, 23 Scott Armstrong.

Munster: 15 Denis Hurley, 14 Johne Murphy, 13 Keith Earls, 12 Lifeimi Mafi, 11 Simon Zebo, 10 Ronan O’Gara, 9 Conor Murray, 8 James Coughlan, 7 Peter O’Mahony, 6 Donnacha Ryan, 5 Paul O’Connell, 4 Donncha O’Callaghan, 3 BJ Botha, 2 Damien Varley, 1 Wian du Preez.
Subs: 16 Denis Fogarty, 17 Marcus Horan, 18 Stephen Archer, 19 Mick O’Driscoll, 20 Dave O’Callaghan, 21 Tomas O’Leary, 22 Ian Keatley, 23 Danny Barnes.

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Photos courtesy:  Vincent Cornelius, Art Widak, Chris Brown, Ivan O’Riordan.

Lucky Leinster Escape Stade de la Mosson with Draw

Match Report

Montpellier 16-16 Leinster

12th November @ Stade de la Mosson

Sexton earned a drwa for Leinster in the last minute

Sexton held his nerve late on. Photo via MD+D

Jonny Sexton secured a draw for Leinster with the last kick of the game as Leinster survived a tough test in the first match of their Heineken Cup defence against Montpellier. A disciplined and physical effort from the French side had seemingly given them all four points until they conceded a penalty in the last passage of play. To a deafening chorus of boos Sexton held his nerve and kicked the three pointer. Joe Schmidt will have been relieved to get two points from this match and move onto next Sunday’s clash with Glasgow at the RDS.

Montpellier were making their Heineken Cup debut here but were not over-awed to be facing the defending champions. Indeed Fabian Galthie’s side came out highly motivated and took the game to Leinster all afternoon.

Scrumhalf Benoit Paillaugue drew first blood for Montpellier when he was successful with a penalty given for hands in the ruck. Sexton equalized for Leinster minutes later with a 39m effort just to the right of the uprights. In the 16th minute, Sexton put his team in front after Mamuka Gorgodze was pinged for not rolling away.

Leinster were doing well at managing Gorgodze’s surges on the ball. He was met by at least two tacklers every time he got his hands on the ball. Montpellier were similarly dealing well with Leinster’s wrecking ball, Sean O’Brien, taking inspiration from Wales’ example in the World Cup and cutting him down with low tackles. Trinh-Duc at outhalf was threatening every time he had the ball, carrying with pace to the gain-line. Sexton showed he too could threaten after soft hands from Cullen and Heaslip manufactured a break for their outhalf. Sexton tried a cross-kick on the run and the move came to nothing.

Both sides were showing great attacking qualities and the next few minutes were heart-stopping. Luke Fitzgerald made a scorching break into Montpellier’s 22. Leinster spread the ball across to Isa Nacewa whose attempted grubber was blocked by the feet of Argentine fullback Lucas Amorosino. After hacking the ball downfield, Amorosino won the chase and popped off the deck to France international Fulgence Ouedraogo. The powerful blind-side had a clear run to the line for the game’s first try. Paillaugue added the conversion from under the posts, 10-6 to the home side.

The diminutive scrumhalf added another penalty soon after from distance. Both sides continued to look for tries. Leinster enjoyed good field position, attacking inside the Montpellier half but the defensive effort of Galthie’s side was fantastic. Throughout the course of the match they were patient enough that they gave away few penalties but also aggressive in recognizing the opportunity to turn over possession. Ouedraogo and replacement Remy Martin excelled in this regard.

The opening fifteen minutes of the second half saw the physicality of both sides stepping up even further. Gorgodze started to gain some yards carrying as Montpellier continued to repel O’Brien and the other Leinster ball carriers. The sides were turning each other over frequently in a real breakdown battle. Gorgodze steamrolled through O’Brien’s tackle as Leinster conceded a penalty and with Paillaugue replaced by Tomas Martin, Trinh-Duc took over the place kicking duties, extending the lead to 16-6.

Leinster made several replacements coming into the last quarter. Shane Jennings, Eoin Reddan and Sean Cronin all made an impact and helped Schmidt’s men to recover the deficit. Cronin showed his dynamism on the ball soon after coming on when he took an inside pass from McFadden and burst through the defensive line. The passage broke down through a forced pass but signaled a slight shift in momentum.

Leinster had raised the tempo and were now getting on the front foot with clean rucks and quick service from Reddan. Toner showed soft hands to offload to O’Brien and the blindside finally rumbled through contact. Quick ball was spread to Cronin who bounced up from Gorgodze’s tackle and dived over for the try. Sexton converted and Leinster were back in contention, 16-13.

Leinster came straight back into the Montpellier half, searching for the winning try. Montpellier’s defence held firm, first from a maul which saw several of the Leinster backs joining the shove. Then, from a scrum five metres out on the left with only a minute left, D’Arcy knocked on. Montpellier cleared the ball and it seemed that Leinster had run out of time.

But with the seconds ticking down, Leinster came back into the Montpellier half and finally the French side’s patient defence let them down. A needless penalty for hands in the ruck gave Sexton the chance to salvage the draw for Leinster.

Photo courtesy:  MD+D