All in the scrum a rugby miscellany



Parra points: Scrumhalf and Clermont show form ahead of visit of Leinster

FRENCH international scrumhalf Morgan Parra contributed 22 points as Clermont Auvergne managed a 32-25 victory over league leaders Toulouse at the Stade Marcel Michelin. Leinster travel there for a Heineken Cup match next Sunday.

Toulouse began brightly with a try by winger Maxime Medard but a yellow card for new signing Rupeni Caucaunibuca allowed the home side to respond with tries from Julien Malzieu and Alexandre Lapandry which saw them lead 23-16 at the interval.

David Skrela kept Toulouse in touch in the second half before his replacement, Frederic Michalak, landed a penalty to reduce the European champions’ deficit to just four points with eight minutes to play. However, Parra, fittingly, had the final say, stroking over a penalty of his own moments later to secure a victory which moved Clermont up to sixth in the standings.

Racing Metro, also in Leinster’s Heineken Cup pool, won the Parisian derby with a hard-fought 15-13 victory over Stade Francais. Toulon, who are grouped with Munster in Europe, hammered second-placed Montpellier 29-13 at the Stade Mayol, with a fit-again Jonny Wilkinson contributing 19 points with the boot.

Former Ireland underage international, Leinster academy and St Mary’s College secondrow Conor McInerney’s rotten luck with injury continues. Since he joined the Ospreys he’s had a wretched run with injury and it looks like continuing after suffering a knee injury against Connacht recently.

He was forced off at half-time in the 16-15 win in Galway two weeks ago, and after struggling to shake it off has been ordered to rest by the Ospreys medical team. Head physio Chris Towers confirmed: “Conor is having a period of enforced rest having failed to recover from the injury sustained against Connacht. He will have the knee scanned again in a couple of weeks’ time, after which we will be in a better position to gauge how best to treat the injury.”

Exeter watch: Irish Chiefs keep eyes on first-team goal

FORMER Leinster academy prospect Ruaidhri Murphy made a rare appearance for the Exeter Chiefs recently when the loosehead prop was introduced late in the club’s English Premiership victory over the Sale Sharks. Murphy has had to content himself with appearances for Exeter’s A team this season – they are due to play Wasps tonight – and wasn’t included in the senior squad for yesterday’s clash, coincidentally with Wasps.

The 23-year-old is regularly joined on the Chiefs A team by fellow Irish players Paul McKenzie (fullback) and Dave Gannon who captains the side. The latter, as he did yesterday, often makes the bench for the senior team as well. Interesting the first and second teams at Exeter are captained by Irishmen: Tom Hayes and Gannon.

Gareth Steenson’s recovery from a knee injury should see him return to competitive action within the next fortnight. The club have done reasonably well in the absence and he faces a tough fight to reclaim the outhalf berth. Shannon and Munster flanker Eoghan Grace could get a chance to progress his career since signing in the summer with a run-out for the Exeter A team tonight.

Not Blaney's day

BRIAN BLANEY made his Premiership debut for London Irish when coming on as a replacement for David Paice during the 23-14 defeat to Leicester Tigers at the Madejski Stadium on Saturday. It proved to be a less than happy occasion for the former Leinster hooker at the Tigers destroyed Irish in the set scrum and also wreaked havoc on the home side’s lineout; the Exiles missing the presence and tactical nous of Bob Casey. Ireland fullback and Tigers captain Geordan Murphy demonstrated his composure and skills in setting up a try for Thomas Waldrom.

Hansen whinge: All Blacks not happy with penalties

“WE are very frustrated with the officiating. We are not getting penalised on our own ball, it’s only when we put pressure on the opposition’s ball. The answer is don’t put pressure on; just let them win their ball. We will stop trying to put pressure on the opposition scrum so they stay up. We want to put pressure on them but if they fall over all the time we’re getting penalised.”

– New Zealand forwards’ coach Steve Hansen has a whinge before going to see countryman and head of IRB referees Paddy O’Brien and getting him to adjust the laws so there is no chance of the All Blacks being discommoded in any way.

Former Irish underage international Kieran Hallett and ex Shannon wing Fionn McLoughlin were among the try scorers in Plymouth Albion’s 27-0 win in the English Championship over bottom-of-the-table side Birmingham and Solihull in the only match in the second tier to beat the snow and ice at the weekend. Robin Copeland missed the match through injury but the one-time St Mary’s College player has made a big impression since joining the club.