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Newspilez – Week Ending 30th January 2011 February 1, 2011

Amid the madness of the Manpilez Awards and the building hype of the Six Nations, this week’s Newspilez is set to be a whistlestop tour through a weekend of Anglo Welsh showdowns as we recap the happenings in the LV= Cup.

 
Being the time of year that it is, every team is subject to losing their finest and brightest to national selection for the aforementioned 6 Nations. The difference between now and when this happened for the autumn internationals is that approximately 86.7% of players have done gone got themselves busted up in recent weeks, meaning that pickings which were already slim are now veering dangerously close to size zero. So it was that clubs from the north of England to, er, the Middle East found themselves sending out some of their fledglings with misty eyes and fond hair ruffling. Seems like only yesterday that they were in their “Born to play for…” babygrows, doesn’t it?
 
I digress. The attention grabber of the weekend was of course the London Abu Dherbi (this pun has gone through various reworkings, but we’re going with this one), which saw “London” Wasps stretch their definition of location just a little bit further by setting up a specially built stadium in the capital city of the United Arab Emirates. Like you do. Sadly for the High Wycombe wanderers (arf), a repeat of their recent H-Cup thrashing at the hands of Harlequins was on the cards. The baby Quins put on an impressive show and added insult to injury when Sam Smith crossed over to well and truly seal the deal 13-38. Harlequins are now enjoying the view from the top of pool four as a result.
 
In less exotic climes, a handful of obscure Ospreys stepped up to the plate to take on some nondescript Cardiff Blues. Again, it was only a few weeks back that the two sides last clashed, but the differences couldn’t have been more marked with all of the familiar faces squirreled away practising trust exercises in Warren Gatland’s back garden. Probably. Sloppy in some places and downright wince-inducing at times, some promise still shone through with a solid Ospreys pack still domineering the scrum even when two yellow cards reduced them to six men. Ospreys fly half Matthew Morgan deserves a shout out, too, simply for being the Anti-Biggar.
 
Leicester Tigers had another upset following their round two trouncing by the Ospreys. This time it was the season’s shockers, Exeter Chiefs, who did the bossing. Having lost out to the Tigers twice this season in Aviva Premiership fixtures, the Chiefs made sure Leciester hadn’t even got a score on the board by half time before going on to a 35-10 win. The Aviva’s other big boys, Northampton Saints, also came a cropper at the Madejski Stadium as London Irish kept their completely random form flowing and dealt the Saints their biggest defeat of the season.
 
Our beloved Barks had a literal hit and miss day at the Rec, but it was his boot that kept Bath’s LV hopes alive after they took an 11-6 victory over Newcastle Falcons. Elsewhere, Saracens saved all their effort for the second half of their showdown with the Scarlets to go home with a solid 34-7 win, while Sale had a 20-28 upset on home soil courtesy of Newport Dragons and Gloucester redeemed themselves after their last clash with Leeds Carnegie with by securing a 30-16 victory. Next weekend will see the final matches in the pools stages, though you’ll be forgiven if that slips by you…
 
… which leads me nicely into my little addendum to this week’s Newspilez. My esteemed colleague Lauren has been posting her Six Nations previews, but I can’t let her have all the fun. So, my thoughts in three bullet points: 
 
– As an Ospreys supporter who is in no way Welsh, Friday’s Wales v England match may cause me to have a nervous breakdown. Don’t tell Lauren, but there’s a red rose over my heart that won’t wilt despite the sea of daffodils that have grown around it.
 
– I’ve joked about Italy being my neutral go-to in the tournament, but I am genuinely excited to see if and how the Azzurri will attempt to capitalise on the injury-strewn squads they face. And hey, I’ll add Luke McLean and Alessandro Zanni to the “One to Perv Over” category while I’m at it.
 
– Finally – and most importantly – I would just like to make it absolutely clear that, despite claims that the Manpilez ladies would opt for Baileys over Guinness, mine is a pint of the black stuff every time.
Words by Anna