>>Impressions on the match overall: Leicester's pack were superb,
>>particularly the front row, they were never going to do anything other
>>than play a nine man game.
>Strewth Terry, what were you drinking? I want some!
>Leicester ran a high percentage of ball, tapped plenty of penalties. The
>ball frequently got outside Liley at fly-half, and although the Tigers'
>backs weren't up to snuff, they had a good run out. Especially outside
>centre Greenwood. The flat line is very alien to English rugby, and
>Leicester aren't close to mastering it yet. They are improving though.
The tap penalties were taken with the sole purpose of getting over the gainline
& setting up rolling mauls, the ball was released only when forward momentum was
stopped, and then it usually resulted in one of the backs going 'back to
strength' ... nine man rugby in my books but effective nonetheless. Did
Leicester run the ball more than usual?
I agree with your comments re. the flat backline, what you really need to make
that alignment work is quick decision making at halfback and pacy loose support,
two areas where Leicester appear to be deficient. Until Healy scored his
wonder-try the halfbacks were looking ponderous to say the least.
>A very different style of back play I'd have said. Llanelli made pretty
>patterns but didn't often make a clean break. ***yer in the first half,
>leading to the Botica drop goal, and Wintle to score and one other occasion
>in the second half are all that spring to mind. If backs run from as deep
>as the Scarlets did, then a clean break in midfield is essential, otherwise
>the defensive pattern that goes with Dwyer's flat backline just means the
>winger is pushed into touch. Australia using that pattern frequently
>nullified 1 and 2 man overlaps in their heyday around 1991 until the last
>world cup. [So Dwyer says, anyway....]
Llanelli usually operate a 'hybrid' system involving a flat alignment of 10 &
12, with 13 lying deeper - Nigel Davies normally acts as playmaker at inside
centre, but in his absence I think Llanelli suffered from having to field two
very similar centres in Wintle and ***ier .... a problem Wales are also going
to have to come to terms with if they are going to pick two from
>I thought Llanelli had some spells of good continuity, but that was because
>of a more mobile back row rather than the quality of the backs IMHO. Heck,
>Cockerill was covering the Llanelli backs with far more speed than
It was a clear tactic early on to attempt to use Botica's speed of the mark to
initially break the gainline and then rely on a quicker back row to set
Llanelli have had great success in recent years playing a smaller openside flyer
(Lyn Jones, Gwyn Jones, Ewan Jones) to act as a 'link' man. Crucially on
Saturday the suspension of Ewan Jones meant that this option was not available,
Julian Williams' injury also meant that the loosies were a bit slower around the
park than usual.
>British TV being what it is, this game was the first time I'd seen Llanelli
>in more than brief highlights. How well do Llanelli followers think they
>played? Leicester are one of the stronger defensive sides in the English
>first division. Last season they conceded fewest points. [In the league
>242, average just under 13.5 - this season just over 17 per league game so
>far. One could say Llanelli's attack is slightly below the English first
>division average :-) ].
A below-par performance in the backline, nowhere near as incisive as usual,
mainly I suspect due to a combination of good defensive alignment, a lack of
quality clean posession and the injuries mentioned above. The forwards did a
sterling job coping with Leicester's ironclad pack, and surprisingly managed to
gain parity in the lineouts... the scrums were however a different matter - the
Leicester front row were rampant.
Overall, a deserved win for the Tigers, but I wouldn't bet on them getting much
further .. home advantage will count for something, but IMO the Quims have
purchased one of the few packs around who can hold Leicester, and I think even
the staunchest of Tigers fans will admit that they don't have much to offer
apart from that.
As a Llanelli supporter, I have to admit that Ponty are far more deserving of a
place in the quarters than us ... I did manage to see the Dax match, and for
most of the game you could have sworn that Ponty had been used to playing Fench
sides for years, credit to Dax for keeping it clean ... the last ten minutes
when Ponty were camped inside the Dax '22 were truly nail biting .... unlucky
lads, good stuff!
It's hard to see Llanelli progressing further with such a daunting QF draw, but
if the injuries clear up in time then perhaps, just perhaps, Llanelli's famed
big occasion mentality may resurface (yes, it's a loooong shot).
On a wider plane, I think the opening stages of this year's tournament have been
a great success in terms of e***ment, if not commercially. I hope next year's
tournament will be more interspersed with the regular season as per soccer's