Two weeks into the new Guinness Pro12 season, and it’s a mixed start for most teams. Here’s a Welsh regions round-up, to see where they are in the league and how they compare to their rivals.
After the first two rounds of games, a good start means the Ospreys and the Cardiff Blues lie well placed in 1st and 4th respectively on ten and nine points–out of a possible ten. This however has not been the case for the Scarlets and the Newport Gwent Dragons who lie 10th and 8th, with the Scarlets yet to pick up a point and the Dragons scraping past Zebre just last week.
The current leaders, Ospreys began their league campaign hammering Zebre 59-5, who were pretty dismal to put it kindly. Despite the match being more of a run through than a testing challenge, Sam Davies began with 100% kicking record and Sam Parry grabbed a hat-trick at hooker. They then backed up this performance against the reigning Pro12 champions, Connacht. They won with a few late tries to collect the bonus point in a strong 11-32 fashion. Neither game was exactly a very hard game for them overall, but to collect bonus points from both games is no mean feat and puts them proudly at the peak of the table.
A good start with some very good individual performances shining out from the likes of Sam Davies. Bradley Davies made his Ospreys debut, and with their big name national dual contract (NDC) players yet to return fully, the season looks even more positive ahead.
Sat in fourth, one of the play-off spots, Cardiff have only dropped one point along the way. In the opening weekend they convincingly took down Edinburgh, collecting the vital bonus point thanks to top performances by newcomer Nick Williams and young rising star Tomos Williams. They then faced a sterner test in Munster for their week two clash, and in rather spectacular fashion they took they Irish Giants down, 23-24. This cements them as a team that will push for perhaps not only a top four slot, but maybe the title if this form and style continues.
This team is really bonding well, even with new signings such as George Earle and Nick Williams being integrated into the pack. They still have Willis Halaholo to boost their fire power alongside Rey Lee-Lo. Expect the Cardiff Blues to push hard this year.
NEWPORT GWENT DRAGONS
Not the best of starts, but considering they are up for sale and have had one of the most topsy-turvy summers seen since the creation of the ‘regions’ as we know them in 2003 it should be expected perhaps. Four points from a possible ten isn’t disastrous however, albeit with very poor performances. They never turned up against a pretty strong Ulster and were dispatched easily in doing so, however the following week they came across a stubborn Zebre who had stayed in Wales following their week one smashing at the hands of the Ospreys.
Looking at it, they practiced defending as they held out the few sieges on their line that the Dragons held up.
The Dragons offered little and scraped an 11-6 win. Looking away from results however, the performances have been dismal, with some fans booing the team off the Rodney Parade in the Zebre game. With the ‘region’ in all shapes on and off the field, it shouldn’t be expected that they will offer that much this season results wise and will loom at the foot of the Pro12 table if their performances continue as they have started.
Possibly the worst start possible to a season for them, losing two from two and collecting no losing bonus points in either. A lack or organisation and coordination amongst themselves has led to little forward prowess, but also defensive insecurities, as was shown in their 20-9 defeat to Edinburgh up at Murrayfield. A few key men out in the likes of Rob Evans and Samson Lee have hurt the Llanelli based side hard and with the likes of Ulster and Connacht up next for the men in red they must quickly turn around these shaky performances and start collecting points if they want to have any sort of a sniff at European qualification.
Not the best of starts, however with the likes of Samson Lee expected back within the next two months at most, plus the addition of Johnny McNicholl from the Crusaders, they do have the squad to climb the table. Wayne Pivac and his coaching team need to get the team fully coordinated and get them to start playing the running rugby we expected them to, prior to the start of the season.
Welsh Regions Round-up
It must be said, it has been a mixed start to the season by the Welsh regions. However with two clubs (50%) of output placed in play-off berths, those who associate with either the Ospreys or Cardiff Blues will be pleased with their start and performances. Dragons and Scarlets fans, meanwhile, will want a sharp rise in their game.