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Newspilez: Week Ending 5th September 2010 September 6, 2010

Aaaah, can you smell that? It’s the season, it’s here and it’s fresh and lush and exciting. It’s like a little touch of Spring just as Autumn is peeking it’s head around the corner. Okay, that might be an analogy too far but still, the two main UK tournaments kicked off in fine style this week and it’s made us come over all romantic.

Opening Weekend was one of surprises as Connacht went straight to the top of the Magners League after beating  the Dragons 40-17 at the Sportsground.  Meanwhile, our beloved Ospreys managed to knock a single notch off that deficit after losing by one lousy point against Ulster at Ravenhill and the Scarlets fell foul of new boys Benetton Treviso. It wasn’t all bad news for the Welsh sides, however as Cardiff Blues trounced Edinburgh 34-23, securing their first bonus point win of the season. In better news for the Scots, Glasgow Warriors secured a 22-19 win against last year’s runners up Leinster, while poor Aironi sadly proved our blind faith wrong by losing quite dramatically to Munster.  We’re sure they’ll pick up… right?

Over the borders in England, the Aviva Premiership also got off to a gasp-making start when new boys Exeter Chiefs proved their mettle with a convincing 22-10 win over Gloucester, while last year’s winners Leicester Tigers failed to get out of their cages and conceded 27 points to Northampton, able only to answer back with 19 of their own. I’m pretty sure that result made them feel as sick as their away kit made us.

From Leicestertigers.com we're sure they'e hoping we'll buy one... ew!

I mean really, even Manpilez poster boy Tom Croft’s not going to be able to look good in that. Bath, however, lived up to our hype and ratcheted up a convincing win against Leeds at Headingley.

In the capital, the season was kicked off in fine style with the showpiece of the premiership calendar – The London Double Header. In a messy and unfocussed first match, London Irish managed to come back from being 10-6 down at half time to beat Saracens 33-6 after a brace of excellent flourishes by Topsy Ojo got the fire back in their bellies. Later that afternoon, the Twickenham pitch was set alight in a fierce battle between London Wasps and Harlequins which ended in a 29 all draw despite both teams giving it their all. Our London branch (Lauren and Anna) were there and despite entering the ground completely neutral, we couldn’t help but cheer proudly when former Cardiff Blue Andy Powell got his first try in black and yellow. More full report to come once we’ve recovered from Girlflu and technical issues…

In international waters, we’re very sad to report that the England girls, after what seemed like a fight to the death, came second in the Women’s Rugby World cup after the Black Ferns put in a last gasp penalty to take the title with 13-10. The England ladies put in one hell of a fight so New Zealand may have to take extra care of that trophy this time around as it might be it’s last trip back to the Southern hemisphere. We hope.

The Tri Nations is still going on, apparently, despite having effectively been won by New Zealand about three weeks ago. This week Australia beat South Africa 39-41 in what was apparently a very exciting game.

The new laws at the breakdown have been coming under a lot of scrutiny over the last few days, so far we’ve only really seen them in the Tri Nations but now it’s time for teams closer to home to put them into effect it seems it’s all people can talk about. The new laws now put the onus on the tackler to ensure the speed of the recycled ball by giving the tackle more space to roll away, present the ball to his team mates. So far it seems to be reducing the amount of kicking, making runners slightly more confident with ball in hand and it will hopefully lead to a reduction in penalties being given for players not rolling away when they can barely move under the ruck.

In more hormonal news, this week sees one of our favourite pastimes go mainstream: Insane Publicity Stunt Watch hits Britain’s Next Top Model. Oh yes. We thought Bath becoming firemen for the day was the height of this year’s insanity (which did, in fairness make Ospreys stint as bin men last year look tame) but now London Wasps are getting their kit on with the girls vying for Elle McPhearson’s seal of approval. Will Shawsy keep his clothes on? Anna’s hoping not, but we’ll know at 9pm Monday and every night from then to infinity based on LivingTV’s repeat schedule.

And now for our inaugural players of the week.

It’s close this week, for it’s been rather a dramatic week in the land of Rugger but we’re going to have to let our heart rule our head and award this to Mr. Daniel Biggar. Responsible for 21 of the Ospreys 26 points against Ulster, it’s fair to say his boot saved the day and kept the boys in black and purple within bonus point range.

Runners up included Topsy Ojo for his two stunning tries for London Irish at Twickenham, Luke Watson for his at Headingley and the entire Exeter Chiefs squad for coming straight into the premiership fighting.

Words by Lauren, picture by Leicester Tigers.

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Newspilez – Week Ending 29th August 2010 August 30, 2010

With less than a week to go before the Magners League and Aviva Premiership (which we WILL remember is no longer anything to do with Guinness by the end of the season, promise) put boot to ball, we assess a rather busy week in Rugby land, considering…

With two games left of the seemingly never ending Tri Nations, South Africa came back from a dramatic opening in which visitors Australia scored 14 points in the first four minutes to win 44-31. Sadly for the Springboks, it’s still nowhere near enough to catch up to table leaders New Zealand, who’d better get the brasso out to keep that trophy shiny.

Meanwhile, the Women’s world cup has thundered on so quickly we can barely keep up. The most exciting news is that the England Ladies have fought their way through to Wednesday’s Semi Final at the Twickenham Stoop, where they will battle it out with Australia for a place in the final, with defenders New Zealand  fighting against France for their opportunity to make history by remaining the only side to ever take the title.

Sadly, our other home nations were not so lucky and Scotland and Ireland will go on to play for their ranking between 5th and 8th place while our poor lovely Wales ladies are going to be trudging on to claim their ranking between 9th and 12th place.

As ever, Manpilez will be cheering on all four home nations but as you can imagine we’re all hoping  that England show those Black ferns a bit of what for  and bring that trophy to the homeland!

Bloodgate has continued to make headlines as the enquiry by the British Medical council got underway to determine the fate of the doctor who got mixed up in the whole sorry mess. Sadly, this story reached the point where everyone was past caring nearly a year ago so the stories served only to help us take mid-commute naps…

Following on from last week’s retained captaincy update, this week we got the breaking news that the new captain of Stade Francais Sergio ‘The Big Man’ Parisse will now also be known as ‘The Big Daddy’ after his wife gave birth to a beautiful baby.  Aaaaw!

Closer to home, news came in from Ospreylia that in order to concentrate on Wales’ World Cup efforts, Ryan Jones will no longer be wearing the armband for this season but it will be ably filled by none other than Mr Alun-Wyn Jones.  We tried to write a non-hormone led reaction to this news, but we failed so let’s just say that we’re very pleased, yeah?

In Ellie’s homeland, Cardiff,  the Blues got their campaign under way in a last gasp friendly in the form of a testimonial for good ole Nugget. We couldn’t make it ourselves but after speaking to some reliable sources, here’s our Ellie with a report …

Cardiff Blues V. Newport Dragons – 27th August 2010

Picture from Huw Evans at www.welshrugbypics.co.uk

Nuggest runs in support of the all new Beef Halfpenny

Well, I’m sorry to say that I missed the first Blues friendly match on Friday, and seeing as it wasn’t on the telly I can’t give you a personal view of how it went. Still, I’ve talked to a few friends who made the tripand have since read some fans’ reactions, and it all sounds promising! Our new fly half, Mr. Dan Parks, went down very well with his tactical kicking and general level-headedness, and Martyn Williams (whoseTestimonial game it was) played a blinder as ever. We love you, Nugget – NEVER LEAVE US.

Bradley Davies and Richie Rees are just getting better and better every time we see them, full stop. Great tosee Richie getting to play with Parksy, in what’ll hopefully become a classy double act, and Bradley paired up with lock-in-crime and head honcho, Tito. Tiiiito.

Judging from the pictures, Pencey’s beefed up big time over the Summer and was apparently almost unrecognisable with his beard and minus the previously omnipresent scrum cap. There seem to be a few worried mutterings going round that the new bumper sized Pencey might be a wee bit slower too – only time will tell!

Shanks appears to be back on top and working extremely well with Casey Laulala, our excellent signing from last season, the pair of them guarding the field with everything they’ve got. He scored one of our three tries too, but did go off in the second half with what looked like an injured wrist – here’s hoping it’s nothing serious – I want him back and giving old Jamie some competition.

Two more tries were scored by Ma’ama Molitika and Lloyd Williams, while the Dragons’ only points came from a penalty kick by the ever-sharp Jason Tovey.

Scott Morgan and Robin Sowden-Taylor – both Blues boys last season, now Dragons – both caused some nice trouble around the pitch, but the Dragons were definitely having some difficulties due to a current swathe of injuries. Jonathan Evans was their only fit scrum half, and so was required to play the whole match.

All in all, a solid friendly to start the season. Three yellow cards (we expect no less from a Cardiff/Newport game!) and a good crowd of 10,016 supporters.

Cardiff Blues Squad: 15. Chris Czekaj 14. Leigh Halfpenny 13. Casey Laulala 12. Tom Shanklin 11. Tom James 10. Dan Parks 9. Richie Rees 8. Xavier Rush 7. Martyn Williams 6. Maama Molitika 5. Paul Tito (c) 4. Bradley Davies 3. Scott Andrews 2. Rhys Williams 1. Tom Davies

Replacements: 16. Sam Hobbs 17. Kristian Dacey 18. John Yapp 19. Deiniol Jones 20. James Down 21. Tom Brown 22. Michael Paterson 23. Sam Warburton 24. Lloyd Williams 25. Ceri Sweeney 26. Gavin Evans 27. Richard Mustoe

Newport Gwent Dragons Squad: 15. Matt Evans 14. Will Harries 13. Tom Riley 12. David Bishop 11 Aled Brew 10. Jason Tovey 9. Jonathan Evans  1. Hugh Gustafson 2. Tom Willis (Capt) 3. Ben Castle 4. Adam Jones 5. Scott Morgan 6. Joe Bearman 7. Robin Sowden Taylor 8. Hugo Ellis

Replacements: 16. Steve Jones 17. Nigel Hall 18. Pat Palmer 19. Ali Mckenzie 20. Adam Brown  21. Danny Lydiate 22. Lewis Evans 23. Jevon Groves 24. Matthew Jones 25. Tom Cooper 26 Adam Hughes 27. Nicky Griffiths 28. Matthew Pewtner

Words by Lauren and Ellie