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Dark horses?

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Post by profitius Sat 10 Aug 2013, 4:19 pm

What teams in the various leagues do you think will have a better than expected season than people expect? Any up and coming teams to keep an eye on?
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Post by formerly known as Sam Sat 10 Aug 2013, 4:33 pm

I think Sale might surprise a few people after last season. They've got a pack with decent size and big work rates and a.decent back division with some pace.

I think Bath may flatter to deceive this season and maybe come good the season after when all their players have fully settled in and the youngsters developed a bit more.

Exeter Chiefs are everyone's second team. They could be the dark horses for the top 4. Good all round team, quality youngsters coming through and a brilliant team ethic.

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Post by asoreleftshoulder Sat 10 Aug 2013, 5:03 pm

If Glasgow can keep a their key players fit I expect them to do well in both the league and HC.They are a great team to watch when on song,they just keep the ball moving at all times offloading constantly and always supporting the man in possession.

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Post by BigTrevsbigmac Sat 10 Aug 2013, 5:24 pm

Betting for Jeff goes

Tigers
Sarries
Quins
Saints
Glaws
Bath
Exeter
Wasps
Sale
Irish
Worcs
Falcons

If I was pushed I would put money on Saints who have made the headline signings IMO with Corbs,North & Fotuali & if they made the final then with all the big guns on show would take some stopping.

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Post by SirBurger Sat 10 Aug 2013, 6:01 pm

I think Worcester could surprise a few people if they aren't too far adrift by the time Senatore and Creevy return - both are fantastic players. From a purely selfish perspective I hope they don't, as they are one of the few sides that I hope Irish can finish above.

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Post by Guest Sat 10 Aug 2013, 7:03 pm

Dragons to finish higher than many people will predict, and to be 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region thus securing HC rugby for 2014/15.

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Post by Gibson Sat 10 Aug 2013, 9:20 pm

asoreleftshoulder wrote:If Glasgow can keep a their key players fit I expect them to do well in both the league and HC.They are a great team to watch when on song,they just keep the ball moving at all times offloading constantly and always supporting the man in possession.
My favourite team to watch after Leinster. They always take us to the edge. Next year, they will be gunning for us with even more power, skill  and gusto.  Have been admiring their rise over the last 2 years. They are a great side and club. Fans are cool too. But they must use the momentum gained, to grow as a club. Need and fully deserve packed houses as well. Its up to the fans now to help feed the Dream. The team and club have done their bit on the field.  

Love to see them win the PRO12. They must make that their prime target this season. Then do well in  the Heino.

Also, Treviso are on the up-and-up. They will be a handful this season. Especially at home, where the will fancy themselves to beat anyone. And I mean anyone.

I expect Connacht to mount a  challenge for a top-6 place as well. Lam has a decent depth of squad at his disposal. Carr will be a dangerous weapon back on his old stomping-ground. They grew a bit last year. I expect even more improvement this season.


Its great for the PRO12.
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Post by doctor_grey Sun 11 Aug 2013, 3:37 am

Gibbo,
Gotcha about Glasgow.  Hioping for good things, if for no other reason that Rugby in Scotland need a massive boost, and this would do wonders.  

I like Connacht as well.  Looks like someone is trying to sneak them into the dance through the back door.  Signed some good talent and Lam is a pro.  But Sportground is rather old and wobbly (the wobbly could be me after a few hot whiskey's on a cold Galway evening).  They need a little infrastructure boost and could attract even more talent.  Just what those lovely Galway women deserve.

But Treviso could be building something.  Agree they are coming.  Doubtless they are going to surprise a few unprepared sides.  But they need a real home too,  Being in the middle of nowhere, it takes a road map to find the place.  I think we should plan a 606 weekend in northern Italy.  A little Rugby, some wine, some Florentine steaks, a chatup with the local lovelies, a little more Rugby, more wine, more steaks, more lovelies.  It has classic road trip written all over it.  Molto bene.

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Post by asoreleftshoulder Sun 11 Aug 2013, 12:57 pm

Gibson wrote:
asoreleftshoulder wrote:If Glasgow can keep a their key players fit I expect them to do well in both the league and HC.They are a great team to watch when on song,they just keep the ball moving at all times offloading constantly and always supporting the man in possession.
My favourite team to watch after Leinster. They always take us to the edge. Next year, they will be gunning for us with even more power, skill  and gusto.  Have been admiring their rise over the last 2 years. They are a great side and club. Fans are cool too. But they must use the momentum gained, to grow as a club. Need and fully deserve packed houses as well. Its up to the fans now to help feed the Dream. The team and club have done their bit on the field.  

Love to see them win the PRO12. They must make that their prime target this season.
Then do well in  the Heino.

Also, Treviso are on the up-and-up. They will be a handful this season. Especially at home, where the will fancy themselves to beat anyone. And I mean anyone.

I expect Connacht to mount a  challenge for a top-6 place as well. Lam has a decent depth of squad at his disposal. Carr will be a dangerous weapon back on his old stomping-ground. They grew a bit last year. I expect even more improvement this season.


Its great for the PRO12.
I think Ulster are a bit further on than Glasgow and have more squad depth so I'd make them favourites this year but Glasgow should win it in the next 3 seasons if they keep progressing.

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Post by Portnoy's Complaint Sun 11 Aug 2013, 3:47 pm

Griff wrote:Dragons to finish higher than many people will predict, and to be 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region thus securing HC rugby for 2014/15.
AS the HC is not guaranteed to even exist in 2014 let alone how the qualification rules will be changed (if at all) that's a strong call.

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Post by yappysnap Sun 11 Aug 2013, 4:28 pm

Bath could make the playoffs if their squad gel quickly. Saints could do very well too.

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Post by ScarletSpiderman Mon 12 Aug 2013, 10:36 am

I am pretty confident that the winners of the Rabo will be one of the regular contenders (someone out of last seasons top 6). However I think Treviso and the Dragons are the dark horses for this season, and both will pull off wins that will make a few people sit up and take notice.
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Post by Guest Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:01 am

Portnoy's Complaint wrote:
Griff wrote:Dragons to finish higher than many people will predict, and to be 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region thus securing HC rugby for 2014/15.
AS the HC is not guaranteed to even exist in 2014 let alone how the qualification rules will be changed (if at all) that's a strong call.

Alright then, you nitpicking ar*ehole, Dragons to finish 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region in the Rabo rather than their traditional 4th place.

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Post by maestegmafia Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:05 am

Griff wrote:
Portnoy's Complaint wrote:
Griff wrote:Dragons to finish higher than many people will predict, and to be 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region thus securing HC rugby for 2014/15.
AS the HC is not guaranteed to even exist in 2014 let alone how the qualification rules will be changed (if at all) that's a strong call.
Alright then, you nitpicking ar*ehole, Dragons to finish 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region in the Rabo rather than their traditional 4th place.
Dragons have certainly made a lot of sensible decisions this summer, we should expect a great deal more from them.

If they are to overtake other Welsh regions this season, who do you think will drop down the pecking order?


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Post by rodders Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:09 am

Glasgow to win the Pro 12
Connacht to finish above Leinster.

Cool 
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Post by bluestonevedder Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:13 am

yappysnap wrote:Bath could make the playoffs if their squad gel quickly. Saints could do very well too.
I'm really looking forward to seeing them this season. I think they could be a very threatening side if as you say, they gel quickly. They've got a few players to chose from to mix up their backline which allows them to play a number of different types of attacking game.

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Post by munkian Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:15 am

maestegmafia wrote:
Griff wrote:
Portnoy's Complaint wrote:
Griff wrote:Dragons to finish higher than many people will predict, and to be 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region thus securing HC rugby for 2014/15.
AS the HC is not guaranteed to even exist in 2014 let alone how the qualification rules will be changed (if at all) that's a strong call.
Alright then, you nitpicking ar*ehole, Dragons to finish 2nd or 3rd placed Welsh region in the Rabo rather than their traditional 4th place.
Dragons have certainly made a lot of sensible decisions this summer, we should expect a great deal more from them.

If they are to overtake other Welsh regions this season, who do you think will drop down the pecking order?

Keeerdifff
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Post by Guest Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:17 am

Maes, I think the Ospreys will be top region again. And I am being far too over-optimistic to suggest a 2nd placed welsh region finish for the Dragons! If anything we may get 3rd placed region. Who we overtake, if we overtake, is a toughie. Scarlets had an awesome start to last season if memory serves then faltered a bit and got in the playoffs by the skin of their teeth (is that right?). However, they're a bit hot and cold at the moment. Hard to predict, but i think they'll get 2nd placed Welsh region.

But it's the Blues that worry me (from a Welsh rugby point of view). They've secured a few signings but they'll be away with Wales a fair bit so I don't see much change/improvement in them from last year, and the coaching/management team is the same as far as I know. If that's the case then if the Dragons improve then it wouldn't take much to overtake them on last seasons showing - a couple of wins here and there. We scored about the same number of points as them last season, we score more tries, but our defence was woeful. With the change in coaching and management hopefully we can turn that around. I guess what I'm saying and hoping is that the changes at the Dragons hopefully with improve us, but I can see it being more business as usual at the Blues as they haven't seen many changes at the region and they may end up with a similar season to last year, so the Dragons may have a chance to jump ahead. All guesswork though!

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Post by maestegmafia Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:33 am

Pretty accurate assumptions though mate... I really hope the Dragons do turn their fortunes around with the decisions they have made this summer. As a fan you couldn't wish for more really...!

Never know Lydiate might dislike french food after a month or two away and want to move back to his farm....???

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Post by ScarletSpiderman Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:37 am

Griff wrote:Maes, I think the Ospreys will be top region again.  And I am being far too over-optimistic to suggest a 2nd placed welsh region finish for the Dragons!  If anything we may get 3rd placed region.  Who we overtake, if we overtake, is a toughie.  Scarlets had an awesome start to last season if memory serves then faltered a bit and got in the playoffs by the skin of their teeth (is that right?).  However, they're a bit hot and cold at the moment.  Hard to predict, but i think they'll get 2nd placed Welsh region.  

But it's the Blues that worry me (from a Welsh rugby point of view).  They've secured a few signings but they'll be away with Wales a fair bit so I don't see much change/improvement in them from last year, and the coaching/management team is the same as far as I know.  If that's the case then if the Dragons improve then it wouldn't take much to overtake them on last seasons showing - a couple of wins here and there.  We scored about the same number of points as them last season, we score more tries, but our defence was woeful.  With the change in coaching and management hopefully we can turn that around.  I guess what I'm saying and hoping is that the changes at the Dragons hopefully with improve us, but I can see it being more business as usual at the Blues as they haven't seen many changes at the region and they may end up with a similar season to last year, so the Dragons may have a chance to jump ahead.  All guesswork though!
Cough cough.

One side were top region last season, well top region in the Rabo, U18s regional tounry, U16s regional tourny and Womans regional tourny, and I believe they were not the Ospreys furious 
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Post by maestegmafia Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:42 am

ScarletSpiderman wrote:Cough cough.

One side were top region last season, well top region in the Rabo, U18s regional tounry, U16s regional tourny and Womans regional tourny, and I believe they were not the Ospreys furious 
True...

How about prospects for the new season? Looked great at the start of last season, did well despite injuries to key players, lots of talented youth in the side too...

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Post by ScarletSpiderman Mon 12 Aug 2013, 11:58 am

Maes, I think it will be more of the same hit and miss for the Scarlets this season. Should be dire in the HEC, and have our 'favourable run in' (Connacht home, Zebre home, Blues in MS, Dragons home, Blues home) as an excuse should we finish above the Ospreys.

Like I said in another thread I can only see the Rabo being in bands. Leinster, Ulster in the top band. Glasgow, Scarlets, Munster, Ospreys, Treviso in the play-off contender band, and Dragons, Blues, Edinburgh, and Connacht in the mid/bottom table band, and Zebre in last place. With each team never really threatening, or being threatened by, teams in the bands above or below.
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Post by maestegmafia Mon 12 Aug 2013, 12:04 pm

ScarletSpiderman wrote:Maes, I think it will be more of the same hit and miss for the Scarlets this season.  Should be dire in the HEC, and have our 'favourable run in' (Connacht home, Zebre home, Blues in MS, Dragons home, Blues home) as an excuse should we finish above the Ospreys.

Like I said in another thread I can only see the Rabo being in bands.  Leinster, Ulster in the top band.  Glasgow, Scarlets, Munster, Ospreys, Treviso in the play-off contender band, and Dragons, Blues, Edinburgh, and Connacht in the mid/bottom table band, and Zebre in last place.  With each team never really threatening, or being threatened by, teams in the bands above or below.
Deos sound about right... Though I like Griffs optimism for the Dragons and we could well see them step up a band to the Play off group... Edinburgh and Glasgow have made some good signings too. Could see both of them step up a level, Glasgow into top three, (where to be fair they have been the last few years), Edinburgh to the play off group?

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Post by bsando Mon 12 Aug 2013, 12:54 pm

I think the Dragons and Blues will do better this season, as well as Connacht who I think will finish well. I also think Edinburgh will improve on their last season (not hard really.

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Post by maestegmafia Mon 12 Aug 2013, 1:14 pm

bsando wrote:I think the Dragons and Blues will do better this season, as well as Connacht who I think will finish well. I also think Edinburgh will improve on their last season (not hard really.
I don't doubt, and as mentioned in a thread last week even Zebre aren't so far off the pace that their seasons results might suggest... Some narrow defeats last season could well becomes wins this year... its going to be a very tough league...

Though regarding Dark Horses, Dragons really could surprise.

https://www.606v2.com/t46775-zebre-next-season


Last edited by maestegmafia on Mon 12 Aug 2013, 1:25 pm; edited 1 time in total

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Post by Cyril Mon 12 Aug 2013, 1:19 pm

Zebre will be bottom and Dragons 2nd bottom. Can't really see any surprises there.

Maybe Treviso to push up to the top 6?

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Post by Guest Mon 12 Aug 2013, 2:02 pm

ScarletSpiderman wrote:
Griff wrote:Maes, I think the Ospreys will be top region again.  And I am being far too over-optimistic to suggest a 2nd placed welsh region finish for the Dragons!  If anything we may get 3rd placed region.  Who we overtake, if we overtake, is a toughie.  Scarlets had an awesome start to last season if memory serves then faltered a bit and got in the playoffs by the skin of their teeth (is that right?).  However, they're a bit hot and cold at the moment.  Hard to predict, but i think they'll get 2nd placed Welsh region.  

But it's the Blues that worry me (from a Welsh rugby point of view).  They've secured a few signings but they'll be away with Wales a fair bit so I don't see much change/improvement in them from last year, and the coaching/management team is the same as far as I know.  If that's the case then if the Dragons improve then it wouldn't take much to overtake them on last seasons showing - a couple of wins here and there.  We scored about the same number of points as them last season, we score more tries, but our defence was woeful.  With the change in coaching and management hopefully we can turn that around.  I guess what I'm saying and hoping is that the changes at the Dragons hopefully with improve us, but I can see it being more business as usual at the Blues as they haven't seen many changes at the region and they may end up with a similar season to last year, so the Dragons may have a chance to jump ahead.  All guesswork though!
Cough cough.

One side were top region last season, well top region in the Rabo, U18s regional tounry, U16s regional tourny and Womans regional tourny, and I believe they were not the Ospreys furious 

Sorry SS, you're right! I meant top team in all other aspects - sort of like a moral victory!

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Post by Guest Mon 12 Aug 2013, 2:04 pm

Cyril wrote:Zebre will be bottom and Dragons 2nd bottom. Can't really see any surprises there.

Maybe Treviso to push up to the top 6?
We definitely won't be 11th. We may be 12th (bottom) or 10th but we will NOT be 11th. You heard it here first.

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Post by GunsGerms Mon 12 Aug 2013, 2:20 pm

rodders wrote:Glasgow to win the Pro 12
Connacht to finish above Leinster.

Cool 
Has happened before. In '03 or thereabouts. The IRFU put Leinster forward for the HCup the next year ahead of Connacht though. Anyone remember this?

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Post by Cyril Mon 12 Aug 2013, 3:19 pm

Griff wrote:
Cyril wrote:Zebre will be bottom and Dragons 2nd bottom. Can't really see any surprises there.

Maybe Treviso to push up to the top 6?
We definitely won't be 11th. We may be 12th (bottom) or 10th but we will NOT be 11th. You heard it here first.
Death or Glory eh, Griff? Wink

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Post by munkian Mon 12 Aug 2013, 3:46 pm

Cyril wrote:Zebre will be bottom and Dragons 2nd bottom. Can't really see any surprises there.

Maybe Treviso to push up to the top 6?

Based on one particulary poor season ? I might as well burn my season ticket....
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Post by Sgt_Pooly Mon 12 Aug 2013, 3:56 pm

BigTrevsbigmac wrote:Betting for Jeff goes

Tigers
Sarries
Quins
Saints
Glaws
Bath
Exeter
Wasps
Sale
Irish
Worcs
Falcons

If I was pushed I would put money on Saints who have made the headline signings IMO with Corbs,North & Fotuali & if they made the final then with all the big guns on show would take some stopping.
I'd say we're(Falcons) are a fair bet for dark horses as there's no way I can see us finishing below a poor LI squad. I think we may surprise a few people Wink

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Post by Cyril Tue 13 Aug 2013, 10:53 am

munkian wrote:
Cyril wrote:Zebre will be bottom and Dragons 2nd bottom. Can't really see any surprises there.

Maybe Treviso to push up to the top 6?
Based on one particulary poor season ? I might as well burn my season ticket....
Just an opinion, but Dragons are the worst of the Welsh regions and a pretty poor outfit.

Don't burn your season ticket though. Welsh regions need all the fans they can get.

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Post by beshocked Tue 13 Aug 2013, 12:01 pm


I think Gloucester and Exeter have the capability of doing well in the HC with favourable pools.

Gloucester in particular could well top pool 6 in my opinion.

I don't see too many shocks in either the Pro12 or AP though in terms of league position.

Bath have signed some decent players but I am not sure they have the right coaching set up to get the best out of them.


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Post by Comfort Tue 13 Aug 2013, 3:52 pm

Cyril wrote:
munkian wrote:
Cyril wrote:Zebre will be bottom and Dragons 2nd bottom. Can't really see any surprises there.

Maybe Treviso to push up to the top 6?
Based on one particulary poor season ? I might as well burn my season ticket....
Just an opinion, but Dragons are the worst of the Welsh regions and a pretty poor outfit.

Don't burn your season ticket though. Welsh regions need all the fans they can get.
I dunno Cyril, the Blues are doing their best to take that title off of them, and this off-season has really given Dragons fans hope they can overtake them, I'd say a realistic hope too...

..aw shucks.

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Post by Comfort Tue 13 Aug 2013, 3:53 pm

Treviso & Saints though, for the dark horses for next season.

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Post by beshocked Tue 13 Aug 2013, 4:08 pm

Comfort how exactly are Saints dark horses? They were AP finalists last season. Have reached the play offs the last 4 seasons I believe.

Hardly an outsider for the title.

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Post by Geordie Tue 13 Aug 2013, 4:13 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:
BigTrevsbigmac wrote:Betting for Jeff goes

Tigers
Sarries
Quins
Saints
Glaws
Bath
Exeter
Wasps
Sale
Irish
Worcs
Falcons

If I was pushed I would put money on Saints who have made the headline signings IMO with Corbs,North & Fotuali & if they made the final then with all the big guns on show would take some stopping.
I'd say we're(Falcons) are a fair bet for dark horses as there's no way I can see us finishing below a poor LI squad. I think we may surprise a few people Wink
Absolutely chief...thumbsup 

I have a feeling people think we're going to be a bit of a walk over...might surprise one or two right enough...

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Tue 13 Aug 2013, 4:47 pm

I hope so GF or we may look a bit daft

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Post by Portnoy's Complaint Tue 13 Aug 2013, 5:03 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:I hope so GF or we may look a bit daft
For me if anyone's going to struggle it'll be LI and Worcester.

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Tue 13 Aug 2013, 5:06 pm

I can't see past Irish for relegation, hope they make a fist of it as I like them but can't see it

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Post by Ozzy3213 Tue 13 Aug 2013, 5:20 pm

I'll say nothing. Quite happy for people to be writing us off.
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Post by The Saint Tue 13 Aug 2013, 8:02 pm

Ozzy3213 wrote:I'll say nothing.  Quite happy for people to be writing us off.
Who could blame them for doing so, after the last two seasons. Not entirely sure why you would remain in a happy state of mind knowing that though.

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Post by maestegmafia Tue 13 Aug 2013, 8:15 pm

What are the reasons for LI's potential this season...?

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Post by InjuredYetAgain Tue 13 Aug 2013, 8:18 pm

I'm a bit surprised that the Zebras aren't getting more name checks here. They ran a lot of teams close in the Rabo last year and I think they will win 5 or 6 this season. Ok, it doesn't make them even in the top half but they wil be a banana skin disguised as a dark horse.
I think the Scarlets will be the top Welsh team. They just seem to have more of a team feel to them than the O's

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Post by Sgt_Pooly Tue 13 Aug 2013, 8:20 pm

Irish have seemed to be on a steady decline and have lost some real quality players for this season.

More so they've struggled defensively of late despite having some decent running backs.

They may be a complete surprise package but Smith has a big job on his hands and he's not a great director of rugby imo.

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Post by Ozzy3213 Tue 13 Aug 2013, 9:52 pm

The Saint wrote:
Ozzy3213 wrote:I'll say nothing.  Quite happy for people to be writing us off.
Who could blame them for doing so, after the last two seasons. Not entirely sure why you would remain in a happy state of mind knowing that though.
Gareth, we have had a poor couple of seasons, but this is a new year. We've never gone well when there has been expectation on us, so I am happy to be written off. Hopefully our guys can do their talking on the pitch this year.
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Post by Ozzy3213 Tue 13 Aug 2013, 9:56 pm

maestegmafia wrote:What are the reasons for LI's potential this season...?
I get the impression there is a lot more unity in the squad this year, which will be important for improving certain aspects of play for us. We know we have the backs to cause problems for teams, so it will all come down as always to whether or not our pack can give them a platform.
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Post by Ozzy3213 Tue 13 Aug 2013, 10:02 pm

Sgt_Pooly wrote:Irish have seemed to be on a steady decline and have lost some real quality players for this season.

More so they've struggled defensively of late despite having some decent running backs.

They may be a complete surprise package but Smith has a big job on his hands and he's not a great director of rugby imo.
From a purely statistical point of view your continued assertion about us struggling defensively is not borne out. As I showed on another thread, after christmas our defence improved dramatically, as did the amount of match points we accrued.

Like I said at the start though, I am losing no sleep about being written off, and can understand why people think our squad is not up to it, I just don't happen to agree. Much like Exeter in their first season in the AP, we have a number of players with points to prove for various reasons. If we can replicate their work ethic, then we have an opportunity to achieve similar results.
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Post by Sgt_Pooly Tue 13 Aug 2013, 10:34 pm

The games I seen you struggled, well you were a shambles defensively actually, these were post Christmas.

I wouldn't think you'd agree, as a fan you'll back your team no matter how bad/good. If Irish play like they played last season they'll be relegated as they're squad is not as strong.

If they improve they stand a fighting chance along with Falcons, Sale and Worcester.

Most players have a point to prove, I don't see Irish as being any different from any other team tbh.

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