Stuart Barnes: How are the Heineken Cup play-offs shaping up after the crucial back-to-back rounds?

Stuart Barnes: How are the Heineken Cup play-offs shaping up after the crucial back-to-back rounds?

To paraphrase Dickens or some such writer, this weekend really was the worst and best of Heineken times for yours truly.

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Comments (7)

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Neil Goldsmith says...

Stuart the last two rounds illustrated the difference a great 10 makes. Evans for Quinns and Giteau for Tulon (and the Montpelier 10 wasn't half bad). Maddigan to looks good. Great acceleration and raw pace are essential in a world class 10. The rest of the skill set can probably be learnt. To me this means that Owen Farrell will always struggle to be in the top drawer - he lacks that pace. Although Freddie Burns has pace, his game management this year has been appaling. Given that England will need at least 2 quality 10s to get anywhere in the World Cup, Lancaster needs to try out other options. Would you go for Cipriani, who looks to be maturing and managing games better, or Ford (at times looks like an early Aron Cruden). Should the other u/20, Slade, be given a chance?

Posted 16:15 18th December 2013

Paul Newman says...

Hi Stuart England are blessed with 2 world class hookers - Dylan Hartley and Tom Youngs - the latter's performance at Montpelier was one of the stand outs of the weekend. do you agree? Secondly the fixture planning for the last 2 rounds is another example of the insensitivity of ERC. Ulster will have 24 hours more preparation time for the Winner Takes all match the following week assuming results go to form in Round 5. Whilst I know the pressures of TV but for the important games of qualification or not the competition should take precedence - Ulster and Leicester should play at the same time for both rounds. No wonder confidence has been lost in ERC.

Posted 16:02 18th December 2013

Dick Pearson says...

One has to ask why we bother with the rigmarole of what the hands are doing for a forward pass, and with momentum and all the other totally unnecessary sophistries. This merely put Rugby Union in the embarrassing position of emulating sports such as synchronized swimming and judging on 'artistic impression' instead of measuring actual fact. Why don't we just make like simple for players and officials and get back to the intent of the law which is properly measurable - did the ball travel in the direction of the opponents try line - simple.

Posted 16:00 18th December 2013

Brian Brian says...

Jan you have a point about the refereeing which in general seems to be low standard, but in this match you are wrong Northampton pinged us off the park, as much as that upsets us. The forward passing while throwing the hands backwards as mentioned above,I think is more of a problem because as with any of these unclear rules some officials let it go and others dont, Some also seem to just call forward when the ball hits the ground even when it doesnt go forward which also happened to the saints in this game. Also Kearney should have seen yellow as it was a definite try scoring oportunity, we only got away with it because it was so early in the match. Leinster mistakes and Saints attitude are what decided this match not poor refereeing. Great to see Luke back and Madigan is a better fit than Gopperth so hope he keeps his place.

Posted 09:41 17th December 2013

Matt Grimes says...

stuart glasgow were bad, cardiff were poor, the ref was woeful, an absolute disgrace. the glasgow scrum demolished the blues scrum and the ref did nothing, whats more you didnt seem to notice, so stuart you were poor as well.

Posted 22:14 16th December 2013

David Gibbons says...

Jan, i dont think the referee was that bad... he was very consistent at the breakdown .. penalised any holding on so both teams when defending knew they would be rewarded if able to get the hands on the ball... i think you could argue how Leinster were lucky that players pulled a maul down 3/4 times in the space of 10 minutes... twice in the 22 when you could sense they werent going to stop it as it was moving forward and the Leinster players had splinted and their was no cards or warnings... Manoa "knocked on" 5 metres from the line dispite it going back a yard or two... we will always argue with interpretations of laws... but he was consistant and certainly didn't ping Leinster players off the park... Leinster were beaten by the better team on the night as Northampton were week before... shame their isn't a 3rd game this week between the two!

Posted 13:25 16th December 2013

Jan Peeters says...

Hi Stuart, I'd be interested to hear your comments on what was at times sub standard refereeing in the Leinster-Saints match on Saturday last. Some of their decisions were baffling. For instance: - Rob Kearney was penalised for an obstruction that ultimately led to North's try, yet 5 minutes later Dave Kearney was blocked by Elliott and yet got away with it; - When can a scrum-half come round to the back of the attacking side's scrum and not be penalised, even though the ball was still in the scrum and Heaslip hadn't picked it up. With games as high profile as the one I am talking about, we need a team of officials who are competent. Too many times, we get French officials in particular who tend to ping the Irish teams off the park.

Posted 11:58 16th December 2013

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