A mixed bag of fortunes for the Welsh regions this weekend, then, with Scarlets earning a crucial and impressive win over Ulster in Belfast, while the Blues appear stranded at ninth position in the league table with a home loss to Leinster.
I managed to catch the first half of Ulster v Scarlets on TV before I went to work yesterday, and I must say it was entertaining stuff. The Llanelli-based region sure have some flair when they’re playing at their best, and with captain Hadleigh Parkes teaming up with the exceptional Reagan King in midfield, they secured an important win which consolidates their position towards the top of the league.
I must admit, I sometimes fear Scarlets do not have the required strength throughout their squad to see out a campaign, which may explain their collapse in the European Champions Cup this season. Now that they can concentrate on the league, however, it will be interesting to see if they can make the semi-finals. They certainly did themselves a huge favour yesterday.
Meanwhile, at the Arms Park, another frustrating and agonisingly close result means Blues are really up against it now. Any hopes of qualifying for the Champions Cup will almost certainly require some big wins over the likes of Ulster, Ospreys and Glasgow, and while they have absolutely shown more endeavour – and importantly, more heart – this season, I’m starting to feel that this will be beyond them.
Danny Wilson was understandably frustrated in his post-match interview. The last fortnight was crucial to Blues’ campaign, and could now prove costly. I believe he’s done a fantastic job this season, however, and I hope we at least get a decent run-in now and end the season on a high.