Blogs & Opinion


Harrison: Stradey stand-off

Miles Harrison - Jamie Hunt Posted 25th October 2006 view comments

The Heineken Cup
Live on Sky Sports
Click here for details

The Heineken Cup is back in full flow again and this weekend Sky Sports will bring you six live matches from the second round of games. 

Sky Sports commentator Miles Harrison will be clocking up the air miles as he jets around Europe to call the shots at the big games and here on skysports.com he will preview all of our featured matches.

On Friday night he will be at Stradey Park when something will have to give as the Scarlets, winners on the road at London Irish last weekend, host Ulster, conquerors of mighty Toulouse.

Llanelli Scarlets v Ulster - 7pm, Fri Oct 27 - SS3

This is our first live glimpse of Llanelli Scarlets this season. What is your appraisal of them and their chances?

 MILES: There is a feeling of freshness at Scarlets this season and they are certainly playing that way. I have watched them in the Magners League and there is a lot of invention and speed in the backline.

Regan King has had a great season so far and all of those around him are playing very well. It is also good to see Mark Jones back after injury and it has certainly been happening for them in the backs.

Where it hasn't been happening for them is up front but there were signs against London Irish that that has been addressed and if they can pull it together in the pack with the backs, they could be a force to be reckoned with.

Phil Davies' arrival at Scarlets this season has been very good for them. That is not to say that Gareth Jenkins was not, he was excellent and was Scarlets through and through both as a player and as a coach. There was a feeling though that the timing was right for Gareth to move on to the Welsh job and that the injection of Davies into Scarlets was good for everybody.

Brian O'Driscoll came out this week and said that he fancied the Scarlets to go quite a long way this season and you listen when someone like O'Driscoll has that opinion. I agree with him. From what I have seen, Scarlets have potential this year.

You tipped Ulster to win last weekend at home to Toulouse but did you think it would be quite that emphatic a win (30-3)?

MILES: No. That was an amazing first-half of rugby when they took Toulouse by the scruff of the neck.

The reaction from our guys in the studio said it all. They couldn't quite believe how inept Toulouse were but that was to take nothing away from Ulster who blitzed Toulouse early on in that game.

By half-time the game was over and Toulouse would have preferred to get on the plane and not come out for the second-half. The fact they did come out and play with some character might be a bit of a worry for London Irish this weekend.

Ulster will be disappointed that they didn't get the bonus point for four tries. They had a great chance to get one and I hope they don't live to regret it. I am sure they would have taken that score-line at the start of the afternoon and the general reaction in the Ulster camp was that it was a great result.

Beating Toulouse in that fashion was a great start to the tournament and showed everyone the quality of rugby that the Magners League Champions can play.

Prediction: Of all the predictions you will make this weekend for Sky's live games, is this one the toughest? Which way is it going to go?

MILES: I said last week that the Friday night match between Ospreys and Sale was too hard to predict and I am going to say the same again this week.

As it turned out last week there was only one point between the two teams and I think this one could be as desperately close.

The Magners League game between these two sides came right at the start of the campaign and was at Ravenhill, so that doesn't really give us much of an indication.

It is a big advantage to the Scarlets that they are at home and they are a very difficult team to beat at Stradey Park in Europe. Ulster though have the game to go there and win.

It was a draw last season in the Celtic League in this match and I think there will be only a wafer between them come the final whistle on Friday night. It is impossible to call.

back to top

Other Rugby Union Experts:

Latest Posts in Rugby Union:

Stuart Barnes

Ups and downs

Stuart Barnes says the drama of relegation must be kept in rugby, but the play-offs need changing....

Stuart Barnes

Rising to the top

Stuart Barnes says Toulon look like the team to beat after a mixed Heineken Cup play-off weekend....

Latest News RSS feeds

Ireland post for Nucifora

David Nucifora has been named the Irish Rugby Football Union's new performance director.

Carter inspired by Wilkinson

Dan Carter described how "ultimate professional" Jonny Wilkinson inspired him to climb to the summit of world rugby.

Harlequins v Leicester: Teams

Harlequins host third-placed Leicester Tigers at the Twickenham Stoop in Friday's lone Aviva Premiership clash.

Connacht sign McCartney

Connacht have signed New Zealand-born hooker Tom McCartney from the Blues on a three-year contract from next season.

Friday's Rabo Pro12 preview

Leaders Leinster welcome Treviso to the RDS on Friday, while second-placed Ulster travel to fourth-placed Glasgow.

Features

Danny Care opens up about Stuart Lancaster's influence and Harlequins' play-off bid

Danny Care opens up about Stuart Lancaster's influence and Harlequins' play-off bid

Once dubbed the ‘bad boy’ of English rugby, Danny Care’s rise to prominence has been far from a fairy-tale, but the maverick scrum-half has discovered a true sense of patriotism and belonging under the tutelage of Stuart Lancaster.

Watch the Heineken Cup semi-finals live on Sky Sports

Watch the Heineken Cup semi-finals live on Sky Sports

The Heineken Cup has already thrown up some brutal encounters this season, and Sky Sports will be bringing you all the action from the semi-finals as Europe's finest take centre stage.

Good week/Bad week: The winners and losers from the last sporting week

Good week/Bad week: The winners and losers from the last sporting week

It's been another incredible week of sport from Augusta to Anfield via Andalusia, but for every sporting hero there must be a villain.