5 Things We Learned From The Festive Inter-Pros
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Next stop, Europe.
The festive inter-provincial came to a close this past weekend with two absolute demolitions. Leinster, thanks to the electric Jordan Larmour, made light work of a poor Ulster side at the RDS, while Munster ran away against Connacht in the second-half at Thomond Park thanks to two Conor Murray tries.
Before we head back into Europe for the final two pool games, lets take a look back at five things we learned from the inter-pros.
Leinster are near unstoppable.
Leo Cullen’s men are a scary sight at the moment. Their style of rugby, their organisation, their simply incredible depth. We could go on and on. No matter what team takes the field these days, your money has to be on the eastern province. Favourites to win the PRO14, favourites to win the Champions Cup. And rightly so. It’s gonna take something very special to derail this team.
Connacht have improved, but still have a lot of work to do.
A mixed period for Connacht. After demolishing Ulster at the Sportsground, and pushing Leinster all the way at the RDS, they fell well short at Thomond Park against Munster, albeit without some of their top internationals. Kieran Keane’s men have improved after a terrible start to the season, with a good run of results in Europe and a decent festive period. It’s time to kick on now and make sure they finish the season with a Champions Cup spot at the very least.
We don’t know which Ulster team will turn up.
What the hell is going on at Ulster right now? Things started to look up when they did the double over Harlequins in the Champions Cup, before a complete capitulation against Connacht a week later. Then there was the heroic bonus-point win comeback over Munster, before complete capitulation again the following week against Leinster. Don’t get me wrong, Leinster were electric, but Ulster were very poor at the same time. La Rochelle visit Kingspan this weekend, with nothing less than a win needed if Ulster are to stay in Europe. Which Ulster will show up though?
Jordan Larmour is a very special talent.
The name on everyone’s lips after two electric performances against Munster and Ulster is Leinster’s Jordan Larmour. The exciting young bank lit up Thomond Park with a contender for try of te season, before ripping Ulster to shreds in a two-try, man of the match performance at the RDS. Perhaps too early for an Ireland call-up, but he’ll be chomping at the bit for a spot in Leinster’s squad for the Champions Cup. A very special talent indeed.
Lessons learned for Munster at the perfect time.
Johann van Graan tasted defeat for the very first time as Munster head coach against Leinster at Thomond Park, with that taste staying in his mouth a week later against Ulster at Kingspan. Perhaps it was the wake up call that both he and the players needed, and it came at the perfect time. Munster were hugely impressive against Leicester in the Champions Cup, but perhaps don’t have the quality of depth that Leinster have. The southern province can beat any team on any given day, but they must be at their very best in order to do so. They will have learned an awful lot from those losses and should kick on as a result. A number of players returned from injury for the Connacht game too, so expect a strong second-half of the season from the men in red.