European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

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European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Fluxy on Mon 18 Apr 2016, 9:13 am

Home teams to be named by 23:59 hours on Tuesday
Away teams to be named by 23:59 hours on Wednesday
Tactics by 23:59 hours on Thursday 

Predictions to be PM’d to SJE by 23:59 hours on Sunday


Gloucester Rugby vs Wasps
Kingsholm Stadium
Light Rain, 10 degrees, 13mph Northerly


Gloucester
Manager: Anonmattyt

01. Rob Evans09. Dan Robson
02. Luke Cowan-Dickie10. Danny Cipriani
03. Nicolas Mas
04. Romain Taofifénua11. Tom May
05. Tomas Lavanini12. Ryan Crotty
06. Tom Croft13. Tevita Kurindrani
07. Ardie Savea14. Charlie Walker
08. Jaimie Heaslip15. Israel Folau
16 Nick Wood, 17 Andries Strauss, 18 Coenie Ousthuizen, 19 Elliott Stooke, 20 Pablo Matera, 21 TJ Perenara, 22 Johan Goosen, 23 Israel Dagg

Basic game plan- Glos are going to keep it simple. We have picked a much bigger pack than the opposition chock full of ball carriers. The aim is to win the confrontations get front foot ball and then get the 
Ball wide to our Backs.

Forwards 
- we have picked a big pack to get us on the front foot. The aim is to carry and then carry some more. We want to try and get past the tackler and When on look to offload.
- will look to employ the maul off lineouts in our half and tire out the Wasps  pack
- look to go off top in their half and get Kurindrani and co running at Hodgson
- Look to get a nudge on when their ball and anchor on our own
- Matera and Savea to target steals at breakdown 
- look to contest their ball in lineout and pressure thrower
- target Wasps  front five who lack size, physicality and class 

Backs 
- Cipriani in great form and banging the goals over at moment.
- look to create quick ball for Robson to hit Cipriani to play On front foot ball
- look to kick for territory when needed but apart from that keep ball in hand 
- look to move the ball off quick ball in their half.
- blitz defence with Robson sweeping 
- utilise Kurindrani and runners in channel to target Hodgson

Key points
- carry carry and carry some more To tire wasps 
- utilise our extra speed in back row to flood breakdown 
- look to use kicks in behind ranger playing out of position
- attack off any turnover 
- utilise bench as required



London Wasps
Manager: CJ

01. James Slipper09. Tomas Cubelli
02. Scott Spurling10. Charlie Hodgson
03. Sekope Kepu
04. Donnacha Ryan11. Rene Ranger
05. Kearnan Myall12. Christian Lealiifano (k)
06. Chris Robshaw (c)13. Michele Campagnaro
07. John Barclay14.  Nick Cummins
08. Laurence Pearce15. Chris Pennell
:-
16. David Kilcoyne 17. Richardt Strauss, 18. James Johnston 19. Sam Twomey, 20 Victor Vito, 21. Ben Spencer , 22. Finn Russell 23.  Duncan Taylor

Tactics:


Breakdown - we have 2 flankers experienced at 7 at international level as well as help chipping in from Pearce, Ryan, Slipper etc, whereas Gloucester in the backrow are quite reliant on young Savea against the experience of Barclay and Robshaw, one of whom will always be chasing the ball and looking to interfere/turnover ball and keep ours quick. In general, we will play the breakdown as we see it, committing men where the turnover is on but when the ball is already won, keeping players in attack/defence, and always hitting the breakdown in pairs and with intensity.

Attack - The Gloucester backrow look a little lightweight in defence, so with slow/moderate ball we will test them by looking to pick and drive, snipe and pop off to big forwards all attacking the fringes, even if we can't get a halfbreak I think we will make yards with this tactics and set up momentum for more attacking ball. We will mix this up with our usually pod work and mauling so it doesn't become too predictable, as well as using Cubelli's box kick with a chase from our physical centres testing their wingers, who aren't the most comfortable in the air.

We will also look for space behind their wingers to kick into with low drives, grubbers etc to get a tricky bounce and put our powerful back 3 against their less physical wingers in a pressure situation. We will also look for when a winger, especially Walker, is isolated defending the blindside and send big carriers at him (Kepu, Slipper, Pearce and our wings) to rattle him and bust through his tackling.

With attacking ball, we have a few approaches available: sometimes we will switch off Hodgson to send one of our bigger backs running straight at Cipriani to get yards off him in the tackle to set up the next phase. We can also run loops using our 2nd playmaker in Lealiifano to create an extra man outside and really test the positioning of Kurudriani and the tackling of the winger outside him. With Kurudriani a very physical rather than savvy player, Campagnaro will also be looking for the offload inside, using his strength to stay up, to our backrow and Pennell. We will use our big wingers off their wings to hit the line hard with impact, and once the line is broken look to use our ball-chasing flankers to recycle ball or take offloads and keep the break moving and the direction of attack changing.

Defence - blitz defence, looking to keep width to ensure May and Walker don't get space outside our wings and to come up fast on them especially to dominate them in contact and rattle them. Lealiifano and Campagnaro are very physical and work together to handle their centres aggressively, with the backrow helping defend Hodgson, Cubelli sweeping and Pennell very wary of the dangers of attacking kicks from Cipriani with Gloucester's back 3. Fringe defence led by Ryan, Pearce looking to pressurise Robson and stop him having space.

Scrum
 - Slipper to hold Mas, with Kepu looking to attack Evans and splinter their scrum. On our ball, push legally and get a bit of go forward before running off 8.

Lineout - Gloucester are dangerous in defence here, so keep throws simple and maul them safely, mostly using Myall and Ryan as options. On their ball we can attack though, look to mark Croft to remove him as an easy option and pressure LCD into longer throws, where his errant aim could result in turnovers.

Kicking - Lealiiafano to kick points and take the pressure off Hodgson. We have able kickers at 9, 10, 12 and 15 with dedicated, powerful chasers. However, our back 3 is best suited to run back kicks, so largely this is what we will do, ensuring we have proper support to avoid isolation. Hodgson to hang back to help our back 3 in the air when he can. Mix up our kicking (ie for territory or possession) - the most important aspect is a terrifying chase, and to avoid Folau.

Other -
 we have our strongest front row bench subs yet to strengthen a recent weakness, and attacking class to break apart the game when players tire in Vito, Russell and Taylor, with Spencer an in form and rounded back up at 9.Press hard for penalties even in our own half, knowing that Cipriani's kicking isn't at its best this season.

Overall: 


Look to use our multiple options to bully Savea out of the breakdown

Look to bully their wingers with our physicality

Aggressive blitz to stop their backline attacking with space or momentum

Multiple approaches of attack to catch out Kurudriani and keep attack alive

Press hard for penalties in their half but even risking in our own half




Exeter Chiefs vs Newcastle Falcons
Sandy Park
Light Cloud, 10 degrees, 14 mph North Easterly


Exeter Chiefs Chief
         
Manager – Fluxy

01. Nick Auterac09. Nick White
02. Rob Webber10. Nick Evans (k)
03. Mike Ross
04. Courtney Lawes11. James Lowe
05. Lood De Jager12. Ma'a Nonu (c)
06. Marcell Coetzee13. Sam James
07. Steffon Armitage14. JP Pietersen
08. Sergio Parisse15. Mike Haley 
_
16. Tom Youngs 17. Jefferson Poirot 18. Harry Williams 19. Jake Ball 20. Fritz Lee 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne 22. Alex Losowksi 23. Teddy Thomas

Basic Game Plan
In good conditions we will be looking to play a possession based, fast offloading game, keeping the ball alive and preventing the Falcons back five from getting over the ball and moving the point of attack. When deep in our half we won't take chances with offloading, but will make ground carrying close to the ruck and recycling quickly, or using the boots of White, Evans and Lowe to take us up the field.

In defence, as always we will smother the Newcastle attack with our up & out drift. Our focus will be on the gain line collisions and driving back in the tackle. Line speed and no dog-legs will be key factors. White will sweep in behind the defensive line to counter any kicks or breaks. Back three will sit a little deeper anticipating a kicking game from the opposition in the conditions. Haley to take risk when Falcons are kicking into the wind to be up short, as the ball will not travel as far. 

Specifics

  • Lineout - Hit banker ball at the front and use the middle and look to play atypical driving maul from there. Lawes to contest every line out, but Steffon specifically to target the back lifter of the Falcons line out, to prevent setting a solid maul. 
  • Scrum - Get low and underneath their props and drive straight. Really test their props technical abilities rather than get in to a battle of strength. The flankers and the locks will provide the power, staying bound to help drive on our ball. Look to legally drive up on the loose head side and use an 8/9 move down the blindside to create a 3 on 1. 
  • Breakdown - When we carry in, we will flood the breakdown rucking well past the ball to free it for the next phase. Biggest impetus would be to ensure clean ball with Louw and Read on the prowl, to ensure quick ball, subsequent players entering will ruck well past the ball to free it up quickly and go again. In defence, if we have made a passive tackle and the carrier has momentum we will not over commit, but will maintain a strong defensive line. If we win the collision and knock the carrier back we will look to get the second man in over the ball for the jackal. 
  • Attacking Play - We will also utilise the pick and go, keeping their defensive line on the back foot. We will then look to shift the direction of play and pull their defenders out of position to create gaps. White to also look to snipe around the fringes and keep us going forwards all the time. If Falcons blitz, looks to carry from the forwards to keep sucking in defenders, to create space out wide. Lowe the top offloader and metres run in Super Rugby. 
  • Territory - If we kick, we will aim to find touch as deep as possible in Falcons territory. This will be over the heads of the Falcons back three and at least trying to either get them to turn and chase the ball, or force them to have to concede taking a 'slow' lineout. 


Key Points

  • Physicality & Dynamism – Look to dominate Falcons physically. Newcastle have players that are more adept in the wider channels putting a lot of pressure on the front five to secure possession. We want to force them to be sucked into defending and prevent them being in areas they want to be. 
  • New Centre Partnership - This isn't the time of season or best situation to field a new centre partnership. We will look to exploit the lack of cohesion with Piutau and McCloskey in the middle, by sucking in one of them with a carry, and looking a for a run off the shoulder of that man to get in behind the defence. 
  • Breakdown – The back row have been selected to cover the breakdown as well as for their dynamic carrying.
  • Bench - High intensity bench, required to come and make an impact with ball carrying and increase the tempo. 
  • Build a Score - Evans to build a score and take opportunities given to us within their ten metre.
  • Experience - Although this may the first semi final for the Chiefs. There is vital experience of knockout European rugby in this side, with the likes of Webber, Lawes, Parisse, Coetzee, Armitage and Nonu all present and playing the Champions cup final last year. They have the cool heads and experience to lead the way and make the right decisions under pressure.



 Newcastle Falcons
Manager – Bambam

01. Matt Mullan09. Rhys Webb 
02. Jamie George   10. Owen Farrell 
03. Davit Kubriashvili
04. Guido Petti11. David Strettle
05. Flip Van Der Merwe12. Stuart McCloskey
06. David Ewers13. Charles Piutau
07. Francois Louw14. Rob Miller
08. Kieran Read (c) 15. Ben Smith
:-
16.Dane Coles 17.Alec Hepburn 18. Charlie Faumuina 19. Ed Slater 20. Chris Henry 21. Greig Laidlaw 22. Paddy Jackson  23. Luke Marshall

Game plan - Use the big pack to really put their front 5 under pressure, particularly targeting Ross in the scrum with Mullan's technique, the Irishman hasn't played all season. Compete hard for the ball at the ruck to get on top, and challenge their half back combo we think they can be targeted with Evans particularly in for a lot of tackling.

Set piece - Look to really put their props under maximum pressure with Mullan and Kubs, we've got a great scrummaging lock pairing to help. If no weakness, use as restart. Flip to call lineout, mark their second rows and force long throws where Read is waiting. On our ball, use the back row options to mix it up

Breakdown - Louw, Read, Ewers and George to lead the way on turnovers. Others focus on strong clear outs and maintaining a strong defensive line. Read able to split staying close to the ruck, or turning the ball over in wider areas like for NZ. On our ball, smash them off the ball, use pod system to ensure support if they are having success. Louw is charged with keeping Armitage off our ball, and target turnovers if one of their carriers gets isolated

Kicking - Smith and Piutau to offer options outside Farrell with their accurate boots. Kick in behind the wings for territory, aim for space not the man. Challenge Haley's positioning, and put the high ball up on Lowe at all opportunities. Piutau free to drop back for the counter off their kicks with Smith stepping in

Attack - Webb to set the tempo, constantly change the point of attack and get Farrell quick ball.. Challenge Evans / James defensively with Mccloskey running hard lines at their channels with Miller/Smith coming into the line. Big carrying forwards to set a platform, run at Evans all day long to put them on the back foot off first phase, see how he handles it. Miller/Piutau /Smith all options to switch around, 

Defence - no weak links in the backline, use a blitz in their territory, in ours use the drift to maintain the line and challenge them to beat us one on one. Farrell to set the tempo in defence as for Sarries 

Bench - Big carrying forwards throughout and talented, pacy backs to see us home



Last edited by Fluxy on Fri 22 Apr 2016, 9:17 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Sgt_Pooly on Mon 18 Apr 2016, 9:34 am

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Fluxy on Tue 19 Apr 2016, 4:57 pm

Following their narrow loss to fellow Challenge Cup hopefuls Gloucester, Exeter Chiefs have named their side to face Newcastle Falcons, when they visit Sandy Park this coming Saturday. Director of Rugby Fluxy, has recalled his big guns for the Challenge Cup Semi-Final, with Mike Ross, Courtney Lawes, Steffon Armitage, Nick Evans and Ma'a Nonu. After the loss at the weekend, Fluxy, was not best pleased with who the result turned out when speaking to BBC Devon. However in the interview he stated that his side were focussed on this fixture, from minute one of training on Monday morning. With this the first opportunity for silverware for the Chiefs over the past few seasons, it is hoped that the Chiefs would progress past the Semi Final stage to reach their first ever European final. 


Exeter Chiefs Chief
         
Manager – Fluxy

01. Nick Auterac09. Nick White
02. Rob Webber10. Nick Evans (k)
03. Mike Ross
04. Courtney Lawes11. James Lowe
05. Lood De Jager12. Ma'a Nonu (c)
06. Marcell Coetzee13. Sam James
07. Steffon Armitage14. JP Pietersen
08. Sergio Parisse15. Mike Haley 
_
16. Tom Youngs 17. Jefferson Poirot 18. Harry Williams 19. Jake Ball 20. Fritz Lee 21. Sam Hidalgo-Clyne 22. Alex Losowksi 23. Teddy Thomas

Basic Game Plan
In good conditions we will be looking to play a possession based, fast offloading game, keeping the ball alive and preventing the Falcons back five from getting over the ball and moving the point of attack. When deep in our half we won't take chances with offloading, but will make ground carrying close to the ruck and recycling quickly, or using the boots of White, Evans and Lowe to take us up the field.

In defence, as always we will smother the Newcastle attack with our up & out drift. Our focus will be on the gain line collisions and driving back in the tackle. Line speed and no dog-legs will be key factors. White will sweep in behind the defensive line to counter any kicks or breaks. Back three will sit a little deeper anticipating a kicking game from the opposition in the conditions. Haley to take risk when Falcons are kicking into the wind to be up short, as the ball will not travel as far. 

Specifics

  • Lineout - Hit banker ball at the front and use the middle and look to play atypical driving maul from there. Lawes to contest every line out, but Steffon specifically to target the back lifter of the Falcons line out, to prevent setting a solid maul. 
  • Scrum - Get low and underneath their props and drive straight. Really test their props technical abilities rather than get in to a battle of strength. The flankers and the locks will provide the power, staying bound to help drive on our ball. Look to legally drive up on the loose head side and use an 8/9 move down the blindside to create a 3 on 1. 
  • Breakdown - When we carry in, we will flood the breakdown rucking well past the ball to free it for the next phase. Biggest impetus would be to ensure clean ball with Louw and Read on the prowl, to ensure quick ball, subsequent players entering will ruck well past the ball to free it up quickly and go again. In defence, if we have made a passive tackle and the carrier has momentum we will not over commit, but will maintain a strong defensive line. If we win the collision and knock the carrier back we will look to get the second man in over the ball for the jackal. 
  • Attacking Play - We will also utilise the pick and go, keeping their defensive line on the back foot. We will then look to shift the direction of play and pull their defenders out of position to create gaps. White to also look to snipe around the fringes and keep us going forwards all the time. If Falcons blitz, looks to carry from the forwards to keep sucking in defenders, to create space out wide. Lowe the top offloader and metres run in Super Rugby. 
  • Territory - If we kick, we will aim to find touch as deep as possible in Falcons territory. This will be over the heads of the Falcons back three and at least trying to either get them to turn and chase the ball, or force them to have to concede taking a 'slow' lineout. 


Key Points

  • Physicality & Dynamism – Look to dominate Falcons physically. Newcastle have players that are more adept in the wider channels putting a lot of pressure on the front five to secure possession. We want to force them to be sucked into defending and prevent them being in areas they want to be. 
  • New Centre Partnership - This isn't the time of season or best situation to field a new centre partnership. We will look to exploit the lack of cohesion with Piutau and McCloskey in the middle, by sucking in one of them with a carry, and looking a for a run off the shoulder of that man to get in behind the defence. 
  • Breakdown – The back row have been selected to cover the breakdown as well as for their dynamic carrying.
  • Bench - High intensity bench, required to come and make an impact with ball carrying and increase the tempo. 
  • Build a Score - Evans to build a score and take opportunities given to us within their ten metre.
  • Experience - Although this may the first semi final for the Chiefs. There is vital experience of knockout European rugby in this side, with the likes of Webber, Lawes, Parisse, Coetzee, Armitage and Nonu all present and playing the Champions cup final last year. They have the cool heads and experience to lead the way and make the right decisions under pressure. 


Last edited by Fluxy on Thu 21 Apr 2016, 11:33 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Guest on Tue 19 Apr 2016, 6:42 pm

1 Evans
2 LCD
3 Mas
4 Taifufina
5 Lavanini
6 Croft
7 Savea
8 Heaslip
9 Robson
10 Cipriani
11 May
12 Crotty
13 Kurindrani
14 Walker
15 Folau
16 Wood
17 Strauss
18 Ousthuizen
19 Stooke
20 Matera
21 TJ Perenara
22 Goosen
23 Dagg

late.

Basic game plan- Glos are going to keep it simple. We have picked a much bigger pack than the opposition chock full of ball carriers. The aim is to win the confrontations get front foot ball and then get the
Ball wide to our Backs.

Forwards

- we have picked a big pack to get us on the front foot. The aim is to carry and then carry some more. We want to try and get past the tackler and When on look to offload.
- will look to employ the maul off lineouts in our half and tire out the Wasps  pack
- look to go off top in their half and get Kurindrani and co running at Hodgson
- Look to get a nudge on when their ball and anchor on our own
- Matera and Savea to target steals at breakdown
- look to contest their ball in lineout and pressure thrower
- target Wasps front five who lack size, physicality and class

Backs
- Cipriani in great form and banging the goals over at moment.
- look to create quick ball for Robson to hit Cipriani to play
On front foot ball
- look to kick for territory when needed but apart from that keep ball in hand
- look to move the ball off quick ball in their half.
- blitz defence with Robson sweeping
- utilise Kurindrani and runners in channel to target Hodgson

Key points

- carry carry and carry some more
To tire wasps
- utilise our extra speed in back row to flood breakdown
- look to use kicks in behind ranger playing out of position
- attack off any turnover
- utilise bench as require d


Last edited by anonmattyt on Fri 22 Apr 2016, 7:10 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by ChequeredJersey on Tue 19 Apr 2016, 7:22 pm

Going for the win there, Matt!
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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by ChequeredJersey on Tue 19 Apr 2016, 7:41 pm

London Wasps
Manager: CJ


01. James Slipper
09. Tomas Cubelli
02. Scott Spurling
10. Charlie Hodgson
03. Sekope Kepu

04. Donnacha Ryan11. Rene Ranger
05. Kearnan Myall12. Christian Lealiifano (k)
06. Chris Robshaw (c)
13. Michele Campagnaro
07. John Barclay14.  Nick Cummins
08. Laurence Pearce
15. Chris Pennell
:-
16. David Kilcoyne 17. Richardt Strauss, 18. James Johnston 19. Sam Twomey, 20 Victor Vito, 21. Ben Spencer , 22. Finn Russell 23.  Duncan Taylor


Tactics:


Breakdown - we have 2 flankers experienced at 7 at international level as well as help chipping in from Pearce, Ryan, Slipper etc, whereas Gloucester in the backrow are quite reliant on young Savea against the experience of Barclay and Robshaw, one of whom will always be chasing the ball and looking to interfere/turnover ball and keep ours quick. In general, we will play the breakdown as we see it, committing men where the turnover is on but when the ball is already won, keeping players in attack/defence, and always hitting the breakdown in pairs and with intensity.

Attack - The Gloucester backrow look a little lightweight in defence, so with slow/moderate ball we will test them by looking to pick and drive, snipe and pop off to big forwards all attacking the fringes, even if we can't get a halfbreak I think we will make yards with this tactics and set up momentum for more attacking ball. We will mix this up with our usually pod work and mauling so it doesn't become too predictable, as well as using Cubelli's box kick with a chase from our physical centres testing their wingers, who aren't the most comfortable in the air.

We will also look for space behind their wingers to kick into with low drives, grubbers etc to get a tricky bounce and put our powerful back 3 against their less physical wingers in a pressure situation. We will also look for when a winger, especially Walker, is isolated defending the blindside and send big carriers at him (Kepu, Slipper, Pearce and our wings) to rattle him and bust through his tackling.

With attacking ball, we have a few approaches available: sometimes we will switch off Hodgson to send one of our bigger backs running straight at Cipriani to get yards off him in the tackle to set up the next phase. We can also run loops using our 2nd playmaker in Lealiifano to create an extra man outside and really test the positioning of Kurudriani and the tackling of the winger outside him. With Kurudriani a very physical rather than savvy player, Campagnaro will also be looking for the offload inside, using his strength to stay up, to our backrow and Pennell. We will use our big wingers off their wings to hit the line hard with impact, and once the line is broken look to use our ball-chasing flankers to recycle ball or take offloads and keep the break moving and the direction of attack changing.

Defence - blitz defence, looking to keep width to ensure May and Walker don't get space outside our wings and to come up fast on them especially to dominate them in contact and rattle them. Lealiifano and Campagnaro are very physical and work together to handle their centres aggressively, with the backrow helping defend Hodgson, Cubelli sweeping and Pennell very wary of the dangers of attacking kicks from Cipriani with Gloucester's back 3. Fringe defence led by Ryan, Pearce looking to pressurise Robson and stop him having space.

Scrum
- Slipper to hold Mas, with Kepu looking to attack Evans and splinter their scrum. On our ball, push legally and get a bit of go forward before running off 8.

Lineout - Gloucester are dangerous in defence here, so keep throws simple and maul them safely, mostly using Myall and Ryan as options. On their ball we can attack though, look to mark Croft to remove him as an easy option and pressure LCD into longer throws, where his errant aim could result in turnovers.

Kicking - Lealiiafano to kick points and take the pressure off Hodgson. We have able kickers at 9, 10, 12 and 15 with dedicated, powerful chasers. However, our back 3 is best suited to run back kicks, so largely this is what we will do, ensuring we have proper support to avoid isolation. Hodgson to hang back to help our back 3 in the air when he can. Mix up our kicking (ie for territory or possession) - the most important aspect is a terrifying chase, and to avoid Folau.

Other -
we have our strongest front row bench subs yet to strengthen a recent weakness, and attacking class to break apart the game when players tire in Vito, Russell and Taylor, with Spencer an in form and rounded back up at 9.Press hard for penalties even in our own half, knowing that Cipriani's kicking isn't at its best this season.


Overall:


Look to use our multiple options to bully Savea out of the breakdown

Look to bully their wingers with our physicality

Aggressive blitz to stop their backline attacking with space or momentum

Multiple approaches of attack to catch out Kurudriani and keep attack alive

Press hard for penalties in their half but even risking in our own half


Last edited by ChequeredJersey on Thu 21 Apr 2016, 11:41 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by BamBam on Wed 20 Apr 2016, 12:46 pm

Y
Newcastle Falcons
Manager – Bambam

01. Matt Mullan09. Rhys Webb
02. Jamie George   10. Owen Farrell
03. Davit Kubriashvili
04. Guido Petti11. David Strettle
05. Flip Van Der Merwe12. Stuart McCloskey
06. David Ewers13. Charles Piutau
07. Francois Louw14. Rob Miller
08. Kieran Read (c) 15. Ben Smith
:-
16.Dane Coles 17.Alec Hepburn 18. Charlie Faumuina 19. Ed Slater 20. Chris Henry 21. Greig Laidlaw 22. Paddy Jackson  23. Luke Marshall


[size=30]Game plan - Use the big pack to really put their front 5 under pressure, particularly targeting Ross in the scrum with Mullan's technique, the Irishman hasn't played all season. Compete hard for the ball at the ruck to get on top, and challenge their half back combo we think they can be targeted with Evans particularly in for a lot of tackling.[/size]

[size=30]Set piece - Look to really put their props under maximum pressure with Mullan and Kubs, we've got a great scrummaging lock pairing to help. If no weakness, use as restart. Flip to call lineout, mark their second rows and force long throws where Read is waiting. On our ball, use the back row options to mix it up[/size]

[size=30]Breakdown - Louw, Read, Ewers and George to lead the way on turnovers. Others focus on strong clear outs and maintaining a strong defensive line. Read able to split staying close to the ruck, or turning the ball over in wider areas like for NZ. On our ball, smash them off the ball, use pod system to ensure support if they are having success. Louw is charged with keeping Armitage off our ball, and target turnovers if one of their carriers gets isolated[/size]

[size=30]Kicking - Smith and Piutau to offer options outside Farrell with their accurate boots. Kick in behind the wings for territory, aim for space not the man. Challenge Haley's  positioning, and put the high ball up on Lowe at all opportunities. Piutau free to drop back for the counter off their kicks with Smith stepping in[/size]

[size=30]Attack - Webb to set the tempo, constantly change the point of attack and get Farrell quick ball.. Challenge Evans / James defensively with Mccloskey running hard lines at their channels with Miller/Smith coming into the line. Big carrying forwards to set a platform, run at Evans all day long to put them on the back foot off first phase, see how he handles it. Miller/Piutau /Smith all options to switch around, [/size]

[size=30]Defence - no weak links in the backline, use a blitz in their territory, in ours use the drift to maintain the line and challenge them to beat us one on one. Farrell to set the tempo in defence as for Sarries [/size]

[size=30]Bench - Big carrying forwards throughout and talented, pacy backs to see us home[/size]


Last edited by BamBam on Fri 22 Apr 2016, 2:35 am; edited 2 times in total

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Sgt_Pooly on Wed 20 Apr 2016, 1:27 pm

I think you only have 5 EQ Bam

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by BamBam on Wed 20 Apr 2016, 2:37 pm

Oops, well spotted.

Have amended

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Fluxy on Fri 22 Apr 2016, 10:04 am

Predictions to SJE, good luck everyone!

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 1:57 pm

RESULTS:

Northampton Saints 28 (T:3 C:2 P:3)
Sale Sharks 29 (T:3 C:1 P:4)

London Irish 26 (T:2 C:2 P:4)
Harlequins 30 (T:4 C:2 P:2)

BONUS:
Full: Fluxy, Matt, Steve, Prop, Bam, Chris, SJE, Pooly & CJ
Score: CJB

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 1:57 pm

Northampton Saints 29 - 28 Sale Sharks

A rematch from last years semi finals, but much has changed between both of these sides. Saints have a few new personnel, but Sale are much more of threat across the park when comparing. Two very big sets of front five, but both are also very dynamic in attack and defence. The amount of heavy duty carrying ability in the packs, makes it paramount for the defences to attempt to stop the momentum as soon as possible. That is where the breakdown work of both sides comes in the fray and with Kvesic and Itoje on display for Sharks, they put a lot of pressure on O'Connor, however the front five of the Saints pack are more than capable of helping out. It's pretty even for both packs around the park, but the Sharks will be put under some pressure at the line out, with Taylor's throwing. The possession provided to both half backs is threatening for any defence in the league or Europe, and there will be some earth shattering hits in this one. On the balance of things, A touch more creativity to spark something from nothing, from the Sale pair, but the high level of consistency from the Saints partnership allows Giteau and more vitally Manu to flourish. As mentioned earlier, there is more threat with the ball in hand from the Sharks side, and in open space created by the strong carriers they can score some scintillating tries. With the metronomic boot of Halfpenny missing this year, Sopoaga has stepped in with aplomb for Saints, and with the scores very narrow and hard to seperate either side, it will come down to who can nick it late on, and that will be Sopoaga's boot that does the damage, to inflict the Sharks first loss this season.

Saints 25 - 23 Sale

Front rows an excellent battle with Taylor standing out as the non-international and giving Saints that small edge. Line out wise see's Sale hold the advantage with a couple more options and will pinch a few. Saints should control the breakdown and both back 5's should be really visible in the loose in what should be a great battle. Physicality wise I can''t really seperate the sides. Half backs are one a piece but the extra quality and control added by Giteau at 12 should help Saints control the game a little better. Fekitoa more of a threat currently than Manu at 13 but Manu matches and beats him as a crash ball option. On the wings I think Saints have more class and more likely to sniff out a try with full backs pretty even. Very close, but see Saints edging this one late with added impact on the bench.

Saints 24-26 Sale
Not a lot in front 5's with both tightheads getting on top of their opposite number. Great impact from the 2nd rows and this will even out the lineouts too. Backrow battle is where I can see Sale getting more with Kvesic against O'Connor. Saints have more carrying options here but Sale can disrupt their breakdown especially with Itoje prowling too. Pretty even half back battle. Centres will be close with Fekitoa and Tuilagi both getting into good form, will be some fun collisions here, experience of Giteau can help Saints. Solid from both out wide with a mix of powerful runners and wiry wingers. Impact from the bench is huge and seeing Cane on the Sharks bench will worry Saints. Saints looking for the aggressive game to suit their carriers and territory from their solid kicking options, think Sale will get alot of joy with their breakdown and looking at heads up rugby.

Saints 35 - 36 Sale

I think Saints will struggle to target this Sale front row, Sale get ahead at the scrum here for me, though it is very close! Itoje in great form and with Henderson their ability in the loose, lineout, making yards and working in tandem at the breakdown is huge. Gray and Launchbury offer a lot of carrying and work too, and Gray and Itoje will both pick off any slightly loose throw ins, so some turnovers there either way. The strength of both tight 5s is amazing. Huge physicality in both back rows, I'd switch Burger and Isa. Picamoles not in his best form, and the way Saints are approaching the breakdown should give them great ball there - however there will be turnovers with Henderson and Itoje and Kvesic involved. The whole pack battle is so intense and brutal, subs will be vital here, and looking at those: Wallace is in form but Cane has more class, both will improve the breakdown. Not much in the second rows, both add a lot off the bench and don't weaken the side. Saints have a really good front row to bring on in the loose and scrum but Johnson can be targeted on his throws, and Sale have a good scrum replacement too. I think the key battles here are the carrying battle across the whole pack, and then whether the fresh carrying off the bench for Saints can overcome the edge that Sale will have at the lineout and maybe the rucks once the replacements come on. In the backs, Care's box-kicking is rightly targeted, and with good kickers for Saints and a back 3 that are lethal running back, this is bad for Sale. However, in attack Care and Sexton are lethal especially with the pack's power sucking in defenders. The play will end up being quite broken with backdoor plays and with those halfbacks and Eastmond (and then Fekitoa and Nadolo both options to suck in more defenders as well as a lethal runner) and dancers and finishers in the back 3, there will be tries for Sale, a very attacking game plan and they will have the ball to do it.

Saints will get lots of opportunity to run back ball and have planned for this, and will really test Sale's defence, which is not the best individually at all, and some counters will see line breaks and build momentum that big carriers in their back row and front row can take advantage of to building up the cracks. With Giteau at 12 and Murray at 9 helping the in form Sopoaga, they win the territory game, and they too have lethal runners to slice through these gaps. Both sides have picked real flair players off the bench and again this is a big scoring match. Sale just have that set piece advantage, with a very equal physical pack battle, and quite even battles in the backs but the kicking game clearly to Saints as well as Sale having questions in defence. My hunch, just, is that Sale's more solid basics in the replacement forwards is just enough to scrape a win but really this is fascinating and could go either way.

Northampton 21-24 Sale

Saints seemly going all out for the Cup but Sale certainly have a bit of a jinx on them this season. Mako a little up and down in the scrum gives Sale an edge and no real line out option for Saints gives Sale a chance to get on top here also. Sale stronger on the flanks but 8 pretty close although Burger better deployed at 6. Saints halfbacks certainly have potential as a combo but Murray still a bit new against the tried and tested of Sale. Both centre partnerships strong and back 3's, little to split between the benches. I'd take Saints by a whisker at home but their set piece issues give Sale a chance on neutral ground.

Saints 27-26 Sale

Saints 27-29 Sale

Very difficult to call, tactically both sides set up well and counter each other's targeted areas. Prefer Sale's props but Hartley a step up at hooker and helps Saints edge the lineout. O'Connor tough to rate, Sale's back row all been playing well and gives them the advantage. Murray in poor form for me, and with it being a new combo would expect Sale to get on top. Outside backs pretty even on the whole, as are the benches. Could have gone either way, but the back row and half back advantage gives this to Sale.

Saints 23-21 Sale

Saints targetting Europe and as they have so many decent Eq can't see who will beat them. Sale best team in league but the extra Eq means they put out an inferior side. Front 5 goes to saints but itoje form helps else. Saints backrow unbalanced but mobile. Sopoanga and Murray offer great control but sexton care has more about it. Once you hit centres and wings saints class shows and they will score more tries. Bench to saints also.

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 1:58 pm

London Irish 25 - 28 Harlequins

It's also very interesting that this was the tie for the other semi final last year as well (well Irish were Wasps then...). Again, both sides very similar to last year, regarding personnel, however the style that both of these sides play is now a little different, it's quite funny that Tom Wood, would have played for Quins in this game last time out! The set piece for both sides is relatively even, can't see either side pinching ball from a scrum or line out on a regular basis. The back row is an interesting competition, in the carrying Irish are in the ascendancy, however getting to the breakdown, and competing Quins get the edge over the team from Reading. The Quins half back pairing in decent nick, and Jantjies form is cracking at the moment, providing his back line with some good quick ball. The Irish half back partnership however are in as good form, and Cruden has sparkled since coming back from injury. The Irish back three will struggle with the kick return, but having Slade in midfield alleviates this a little. There is a much bigger impact from the experienced Quins bench, and this one in the end goes the opposite way to last year, with Steve getting his Quins side into the Champions Cup Final

Irish 22-26 Quins
Quins will get on top at the scrum with Wilson not in great form, power from Irish's lock pairing will help them slightly but not enough. Good back row battle, like the Quins balance here and think Hooper will cause all sorts of problems for Wood. Half backs pretty even with neither 9 standing out recently. Big centre pairing for Quins against a more light footed Irish team. Think Quins will get the better ball from the breakdown to release their centres. Back 3 to Quins with McKenzie in tremendous form. Introduction of SOB and Smith will benefit Irish. Irish looking to get up on set piece which I don't think will happen today, Quins letting us know how they will attack with heads up rugby. Neither side saying how they willl target/nullify breakdown though.

London Irish 23 - 28 Harlequins

I think both tight heads can trouble the loose heads today, but Sio hold up a bit better than Waller, and maybe there is a tiny edge to Irish at the scrum. Irish's second rows have a bit of an all court game but with Kruis playing so well, Harlequins aren't much off them in the loose and edge the lineout, helped by the excellent Creevy, with Chouly and Hooper just about equalling Wood/Kaino as options. In fact, both sides have 5 strong jumping options!. NB both hookers also add a lot in the loose and tight battles, though Creevy now the better hooker overall. Harlequins win the breakdown, Hooper's pace getting to a lot of ball and being better here than Wood. Kaino's carrying and defence shores up London Irish and he can pressure Pienaar a lot. Gorgodze vs Vermeulen worth the entry money alone.

Youngs' current form splits people - I think he's making good decisions, kicking well and running well, all of which is obviously useful for Irish, but his passing is as poor as it has ever been, which minimalises the positives of Cruden, though they are still a strong attacking duo. The kicking battle between both sets of halfbacks is very close, probably edged by Irish, just, though Jantjes is in all round excellent form and sharpens. Both centres pairings work well, will be interesting to see Slade vs Joseph. More classical back 3 from Irish, who could be devastating looking for work off Slade as a second distributor, but the individual flair of McKenzie, tackling-breaking and work of Nowell and around class of Cordero are very hard to defend against, and Quins will also have a very solid back 3 at the back to counter the better kicking game in the midfield from London Irish. As with most semifinals, it's pretty close, but Quins just have an edge in fluency in attack for me, and at the breakdown, and they win by a try

London Irish 24 - 27 Harlequins
Very good game overall - Waller in the front row is a real weakness for Quins but the conditions mean there won't be as many scrums or opportunities for Irish to take advantage. The balance for the Quins team overall is better. See Irish lacking that bit of out and out pace in the backline to really threaten to make the most of the wide space against Irish and like the tactic to put the ball behind the Irish defence and take advantage of the lack of kicking game, which provides a great platform for territory to win the game.

Irish 28-24 Harlequins

Some slight form issues with Wilson and Waller perhaps not quite up to this of late give it an even look. Not too much in the locks, perhaps a bit of a line out advantage to Quins, Irish stronger on the flanks and step it up a fair bit in the halfbacks. Very tight in centers and back 3. Really tight contest overall but Irish quality at halfback shines through

Irish 29-28 Quins

Irish 25-27 Quins

Would expect Irish to get on top at the scrum but Quins will get at their lineout. Hooper struggling this year but not sure on the balance of the Irish backrow. Don't see either side particularly getting on top at the breakdown. More of a tight carrying game through the Irish pack. Good form for both 10s but would have Irish edging this as a pair. Quins the much more dangerous side from 11-15. Not sure on the Irish tactic of dropping the wingers deep neither particularly strong under the high ball and leaves a lot of space in wider areas for Quins to attack whom seem keen to do so with JJ at 13 and a lot of play out the back door. Quins will give a bit of ground away from time to time on the drift but feel the way the two sides are set up Quins will take this one.

London Irish 23-28 Harlequins

Would expect Quins to win the front 5 battle comfortably, Wilson has no form and Irish will really struggle at the lineout. Halfbacks pretty even, with Jantjies a new signing. Quins stronger in every outside back position for me. Tactically well matched, Quins use the lineout platform to get their backs going and win this

Irish 23-24 Quins

Another close one again. Packs really close and arguments for both teams. Hooper In stinking form which stops Quins dominating back row. However you have to go with Quins once you get to the outside backs. They are better in every position. Irish back 3 all Struggle with kicks and as a unit Can't see it working.

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 2:00 pm

RESULTS:

Gloucester 28 (T:3 C:2 P:3)
London Wasps 23 (T:2 C:2 P:3)

Exeter Chiefs 26 (T:2 C:2 P:4)
Newcastle Falcons 29 (T:3 C:1 P:4)

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 2:01 pm

Gloucester Rugby 24 - 20 Wasps

A tough day in the office in this one, with the conditions making it hard on the set piece. Wasps getting the edge on securing ball and with their teamwork, getting good forward momentum. Glos as usual, packed full of big carriers to get them good go forward, but Wasps pack are no slouches themselves. Good creativity and pace in the Glos back line, but a touch more control and consistency from Wasps keeps Glos pegged back. This game is super tight, but the bench from Glos is enough to impact and turn the tide for the home side.

Gloucester 27 - 24 Wasps

I don't agree with the size advantage for Wasps as I feel that Wasps match them for size but possibly not for physicality. Breakdown should be controlled by Wasps and I think the scrum will be an even affair. One a piece at half backs with outside backs a little more even. It's the bench that I feel will win it for Gloucester and home advantage gives them the win.

Glos 27-22 Wasps
Slight edge for Glos in front 3 and 2nd rows see Glos really putting pressure on Wasps' set piece. Robshaw will win his battle against Croft but other than that Glos will cause a lot of problems for Wasps at the breakdown. 9's even and 10's fairly close with Cips unpredictable and Hodgson good for control. Glos centres can cause Wasps some issues and out wide, I'm guessing it's Johnny May, the fitness of the Glos back 3 s the form of Wasps back 3 really makes it evenish with Folau the only stand out but spending more time at 13 now. Good impact bench for Glos. Wasps are set up well looking to turn Glos with kicks and use their aggressive carriers, good tactics at the breakdown too and how they will look to even up this battle. Glos more simple in their approach looking to use strong carries and spread it wide, not sure about the comment about 'class' in the Wasps front row is really needed, could just have mentioned physicality and size.

Gloucester 23 - 19 Wssps
As much as Wasps have improved this season they have an issue around their no2 playing in the Championship and not getting experience in the AP, so a huge advantage in one of the key areas for Gloucester. Just a few more WC options for the home side and see them securing a place in the final, espc with the impact they have on the bench.

Gloucester 24-23 Worcester

Gloucester 22-23 Wasps

Hard to separate the scrums but Spurling is an issue for the Wasps lineout. Glaws flanks fairly dynamic and will do damage carrying in the wider areas but lacks the ruck work of the Wasps pair. Pearce a weakness up against Heaslip though. Halfbacks are tight but the Glaws pair are capable of making something out of nothing. Wasps with an edge on the wings particularly in physicality. 12 battle tight but Kurindrani offers more at 13. Not sure on the Glaws power approach against a Wasps side that match them here. Wasps right to target the breakdown on defence and the fringe areas on attack. Feel this will be a messy affair. Glaws shade the sides but not a swell set up and see Wasps sneaking a surprise win

Gloucester 27-26 Wasps

Matt may have underestimated the Wasps side a bit here. I'd expect the front 5s to be very well matched, and think the Wasps flankers will win the breakdown up against a lightweight Glos back row. Glos stronger at half back with Hodgson a weakness. May lacking form, and Walker up against either Wasps wing will get steamrolled. CJ has a very good centre pairing, with Lelo adding control, and tactically excellent as always targeting Kuridrani. Plenty of impact from both benches. I have to go with home advantage here, can't split the sides otherwise

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 2:01 pm

Exeter 25 - 24 Newcastle

Exeter's pack looks incredibly strong with a really blend of physicality and presence at the breakdown. They might suffer at little at the scrum but are more than competitive in other areas. Newcastle offer a similar strength and it will be a brilliant battle up front. Half back is advantage Newcastle. Outside backs I'm no fan of Rob Miller as a winger and this will hurt Newcastle as I feel he can be exploited by the Exeter backs. Laidlaw off the bench for Falcons will have a big impact but  I feel at home Exeter edge this one

Chiefs 23-26 Falcons
Falcons will get joy in the front row with Webber struggling at the moment and Auterac against a technical prop. 2nd rows will help ensure the damage isn't too bad for Chiefs. Fantastic back row battle, 2 of best on show this weekend, can't split them here. Slight edge to Falcons at half back but Evans with a quality return last night!! Feel centres are close with 12 to Chiefs and 13 to Falcons with Piutau in great form. Back 3 to Falcons with Pietersen also seeming to be becoming quite hot headed as well in recent matches (just an observation not a mark down though!). Solid impact form both teams on bench. Chiefs make a mistake targeting technique at scrum which Auterac struggles with and he relies more on his power. Focusing on centre partnership well and using big game experience from their key players. Falcons changing point of attack well here and targeting the scrum with 2 good technicians here.

Exeter 33 - 31 Newcastle

I think both sides have carefully picked out the possible weaknesses of their opposition and target them carefully, and Newcastle get some joy at the scrum targeting Ross here. 2 good line outs but form and Read would give Newcastle the edge here too, if it weren't for specific countering by Exeter. THe breakdown is very very close, both sides have good operators here and have picked very clear, well written but differing tactics and I can't really predict what the conclusion of these clashing would be, I suspect the ref's interpretation would be key! Maybe we should have named referees for Knock out matches? Ewers/Read and Armitage/Parisse will be pretty fun to watch in well balanced carrying, but I think that Read/Ewers will work a bit harder and get a slight edge carrying and linking.

It's very hard to get a back line to shift between drift and blitz mismatch, BamBam, if it is done well it can be really hard to predict and breakdown but it's a big risk and I think the confusion could see some breaks for Exeter, especially with new centres. Evans came back with a bang this week but has been out for a while so the halfbacks go to Webb and Farrell who are really really well balanced. Exeter well set out to tackle Farrell's kicking but he has more elements to his game these days and will have slightly better front foot ball than Evans (who to be fair is used to this, as is White). I do think the Newcastle centres work well together, actually, and will create some attacking opportunities, with lethal strike runners and finishers in that team who will score for sure. However, with an uncertain defence, James, Lowe and Pietersen will also be able to make breaks especially playing off those halfbacks and with Parisse adding an extra back in effect. High scoring game, where there is a slight edge to the Exeter backs and the Newcastle forwards. I would usually say, especially when they also have good tactics, that Newcastle would win as pack trumps backs but the set up Fluxy has, home advantage (weird that it's there for Challenge but not Champions) and the quiet efficiency of his troops just squeezes out a win in a thriller.

Exeter Chiefs 24 - 25 Newcastle
If it wasn't a semi final, probably would have opted for the draw as really like the impact from the Chiefs bench , but in a one off game just see that Newcastle have one or two extra game changes in their starting XV and could be the difference, especially with Farrell at no10. A narrow away win

Exeter 27-30 Falcons

Some poor form from all 3 of Exeter's front rowers gives Falcons an edge but I prefer the Exeter 2nd row, although perhaps a little too lightweight with 2 x 5's. Some good backrows on show but Exeter need continuity and I think this is the first time they've all lined up. Nonu the standout in the centres, not sure what's happening with the Falcons pairing and Falcons more threat from the back 3. Close game but the newbies just hold Exeter back in a tight affair.

Exeter 24-25 Newcastle

Exeter 25-27 Newcastle

Falcons with the stronger scrum. Lineout battle pretty even. Read in great form for Falcons but it’s a strong backrow line up for Chiefs and feel they have a slight edge here. Falcons stronger at halfback and feel they have an edge in midfield. Nonu been very disapointing for Toulon overall. Wings a good edge for Chiefs but Ben Smith is the danger man on show and will offer a real threat hitting the line from FB. Think Falcons could get an edge late on if the halfback replacements are needed for both sides & with Coles/Faumuina to come in. I'd be wary of the Chiefs up and out drift. Feel the Falcons midfield could tie them in from time to time and leave room for Smith to hit the line in wider areas. Targetting the Falcons midfield on defence though will work well. Chiefs looking to keep the ball moving and play it in wider areas. Feel Falcons are capable of keeping up with them though and using the midfield to hit it up and play off works very well and they just edge this.

Exeter 22-22 Newcastle

How do you separate this ? Falcons front row much better but Exeter backrow has carriers galore and a  superb combo. The half backs are very much with Falcons but a midfield that does not work for Falcons thwarts a lot of their play. Draw

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by SirJohnnyEnglish on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 2:04 pm

Some tremendously detailed explanations there guys thumbsup

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by BamBam on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 2:58 pm

Wasn't expecting that result!

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Sgt_Pooly on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 3:19 pm

Some cracking write ups.

Congrats on the winners.

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

Post by Fluxy on Thu 28 Apr 2016, 3:36 pm

BamBam wrote:Wasn't expecting that result!

Neither was I, but fair play Bam. Shows that I'm clearly doing something wrong at the moment.

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Re: European Challenge Cup Semi-Finals

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