If you had gone into a bookies this morning and said, Excuse me, I’d like to put a tenner on Ronan O Gara making the winning score with the last kick of the game, what do you think they’d have said to you? Any decent bookie would have tucked your folded note into your pocket and sent you home. Keep your money. I might be a bookie, but I’m not a thief.
I mentioned this to my beloved son, Bullet, who replied, Imagine the odds you’d have got if you went into a bookie shop last week and bet on O Gara doing it twice.
Half way through today’s game, sharing a delicious scoop or two with Wrinkly Joe, he leaned over and said, You know how this will end, don’t you?
No, I replied. How will this end?
With eighty minutes on the clock, Munster will have possession, O Gara will be in the pocket and he’ll slot one over.
How we laughed about that.
Guess what? With eighty minutes on the clock, O Gara dropped into the pocket and slotted one over to win the away game in Stade Toulousain. Sickener. If that was Thomond Park, I reckon the entire crowd would have surfed home on a tsunami of barf, but here comes the downside.
It’s great that Munster have pulled the last two games out of the fire, but as a regular contributor here pointed out, they wouldn’t have to do that sort of thing if they were managing the breakdown properly, which they are not. I couldn’t count the number of infringements Munster were penalised for, and even if you think that Wayne Barnes is a particularly whistle-happy referee, it doesn’t matter. A professional team must assess the referee as much as the opposition, take note of his tendencies, and play the game accordingly. Referees are not robots and the likes of Munster, twice winners, should have no difficulty adjusting. I don’t know whose responsibility that is, but ultimately it goes back to Tony McGahan.
Some people are saying that the group is now down to two, since both Northampton and Castres have lost two games, but there’s still a way to go before we can declare anyone dead and buried. Certainly, Llanelli and Munster are in prime position, but let’s see what happens in the back-to-back December games.