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Celtic Call – Part II

19th September 2002 By Munster Rugby

Celtic Call – Part II

Celtic Call – Part II













Glasgow 3 3 0 0 100 81 11 1 +19 13
Connacht 3 3 0 0 77 72 5 0 +5 12
Bridgend 3 2 0 1 63 40 6 1 +23 9
Pontypridd 3 2 0 1 65 56 5 0 +9 8
Leinster 3 1 0 2 75 69 9 3 +6 7
Cardiff 3 1 0 2 75 82 7 2 -7 6
Newport 3 0 0 3 46 65 5 2 -19 2
Borders 3 0 0 3 51 87 4 2 -36 2


Pontypridd coach Lynn Howells is looking forward to getting back to Sardis Road with his in-form side. Pontypridd downed previously unbeaten Bridgend 26-9 at the Brewery Field on Friday night, and home wins over Scottish sides Borders and Glasgow in the next two weeks would have them in prime position for a home quarter-final. “Our forwards are playing very well, and our halfbacks have been able to dictate play because of the quality ball they’re getting,” Howells said. “We’re basically strangling teams with our possession. “We’ve had a good couple of weeks – getting a win on the road in this type of competition is crucial. “We’re coming back to Sardis Road for a couple of weeks, and that’s good for the players and for the fans, who were in great form at Bridgend. “It’s always good to play at home, and being at Sardis adds a bit of spice to the game.” Howells said he didn’t know a lot about Scottish new boys Borders – “but I will by the end of the week. “They’re obviously going through a steep learning curve, but they have a lot of experience to call on, and no one can take them lightly.” World record Test points-scorer Neil Jenkins bagged seven penalty goals at the Brewery Field, but Howells said the “Ginger Monster” wasn’t as calm as he appeared to be. “I haven’t seen Jenks that nervous ever,” Howells said. “It was his first start for a long time and it was a very big occasion for him. You could see he was a bit nervous early on, but he’s a professional and came right pretty quickly.”


It may have come as a bit of a surprise to some to see Glasgow sitting pretty on top of Pool B of the Celtic League – but it is no shock to their skipper Andy Nicol. Having fought back from a 16-point deficit at Newport to turn a 25-9 home advantage into a 31-25 away win, the Warriors are now three from three in their Celtic campaign. Their stunning burst of 22 points in 12 minutes completely silenced the 5,619 crowd at Rodney Parade and left Newport virtually down and out after three successive defeats. “I think the Welsh clubs still expect Glasgow and Edinburgh to fold when they get behind because of some of our previous experiences in the Welsh/Scottish League,” said Nicol. “That’s certainly what everyone at Rodney Parade expected when we fell 25-9 behind at the start of the second half. But we have grown up as a side in recent seasons and we don’t give in. “Our new coach Kiwi Searancke talks in terms of the arm wrestle only beginning at 60 minutes, and that is when we came on strong. When we looked at our opening three fixtures in the Celtic League during the summer – Cardiff and Newport away and the champions Leinster at home – we knew there was a possibility we might not win any of them. “If anyone had told us that we would win all three, then we would have taken that. Things are going well for us and we are building some real momentum. “Having said that, every game in the Celtic League is a tough one and we can take nothing for granted with Bridgend visiting us this week.” As for Searancke, he was delighted to see his players claw their way back into contention when seemingly out for the count. “They displayed a bit of the mongrel – I like to see that in a side,” he said.


But last season’s quarter-finalists Newport have been knocked back in their bid of reaching the knock-out phase of this year’s tournament after slumping to their third successive defeat. And new coaches Leigh Jones and Richard Hill are well aware that their task will get no easier this week with a trip to Galway to face undefeated Connacht. “We are improving with every game, and creating more chances, so we will go to Connacht in a very positive frame of mind,” said Jones. “But it’s another big challenge for us against another unbeaten side. It is all down to the professionalism of the players and coaches to get us out of this position. “Not everything has gone swimmingly for these players in their careers, so they will have pulled themselves out of situations like this before.” The opposite is the case at The Gnoll where the Welsh All Blacks made it three from three with victory over arch-rivals Llanelli. “This match was a temperature gauge for us,” said coach Lyn Jones. “I asked the players to raise their game a level for Llanelli and they did. “It was the manner of victory that was most pleasing for me, not the fact that we had beaten a very good side for the first time in three years. As a coach you know you have to beat the best if you are going to challenge for major trophies.”



EDINBURGH RUGBY 21 MUNSTER 28 Edinburgh Rugby: B Laney; D Lee, C Joiner, G Shiel, C Paterson; D Hodge, M Blair; A Jacobsen, D Hall, C Smith (J Brannigan 60), N Hines, S Murray, T Blackadder (capt), S Taylor, M Leslie Scorers: Tries – D Lee, C Paterson; Con – B Laney; Pens – B Laney; DG – D Hodge

Munster: J Staunton; J Kelly, M Mullins, R Henderson, J O’Neill (D Crotty 76); J Holland, D Malone (M Prendergast 75); M Horan, F Sheahan, J Hayes, D O’Callaghan, M O’Driscoll, J Williams (capt, E Halvey 78), A Foley, A Quinlan Scorers: Try – R Henderson; Con – J Staunton; Pens – J Staunton 7 Yellow card: A Quinlan Referee: N Williams (Wales).

NEATH 29 LLANELLI 13 Neath: A Durston; S Marsden, A Bateman, D Tiueti, S Williams; L Jarvis, A Moore (P Horgan 66); D Jones, B Williams, A Jones (A Millward 60), A Newman, G Llewellyn, H Jenkins, N Bonner-Evans, S Tandy Scorers: Tries – S Marsden, H Jenkins; Cons – L Jarvis 2; Pens – L Jarvis 5

Llanelli: G Evans; M Jones, M Watkins, M Cardey (T Selley 50), S Finau; S Jones, G Easterby (D Peel 55); I Thomas, R McBryde, J Davies (M Madden 41), V Cooper (capt), L Gross, S Easterby (D Jones 41), S Quinnell, I Boobyer Scorers; Try – I Thomas; Con – S Jones; Pens – S Jones 2 Yellow card: S Quinnell Referee: A Lewis (Ireland)




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