Parma v London Irish

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Parma v London Irish

by OxonRob on Tue Jan 10, 2006 4:02 pm

We can’t afford to ham this up.by OxonRob

We need just two more points in this competition to make sure of a quarter-final place, but we need 10 points to ensure home ground advantage. We currently lie third in the overall competition pecking order, behind Gloucester and Newcastle, who have racked up gadzillions of tries against minnow teams. We could do with the bonus points to make sure we don’t get overtaken at the last fence. (Unlikely but possible.)

With a 64-0 home victory already in the record book it would be all too easy to regard Saturday’s encounter with Parma as a potential walk-over, for which all we have to do is turn up with the Academy lads. This would be a mistake, good as they are!

Experienced travellers will recall the difficulty we had in despatching Pau 13-20 in October. A feisty encounter indeed. Parma beat Pau 11-20 while we were in Agen. Maybe Pau have gone off the boil? Maybe Parma have improved? Maybe they had a bad day at the office when they visited us?

Maybe we’d best count our chickens only when they are hatched?

If ever the team’s attitude was more important than the team’s members it is this week. Can you imagine their embarrassment if they reckon it’ll be a walkover and they are proved wrong, only realising it when it is too late to do anything about slotting four tries?

We gave Parma respect in the first match. We need to do so again.

Last time

Reference to the various match reports about our first meeting reveals that although we ran in rather a lot of tries against Parma at the Madstad, they put up some decent opposition a lot of the time, and looked dangerous with ball in hand. Their problem seemed to be that they were a good six players short of being the team they aspire to be - but that they nonetheless boasted a surprising number of internationals, who played well. You may recall Vosawai, their large Fijian No 8 and Barbieri, their Italian international flanker?

You may also recall that when first we played them we took nothing for granted, and put quite a strong side out. We selected M Horak, S Staniforth, P Franze (rep: P Hodgson, 40), M Catt (captain)(rep: N Mordt, 40), D Armitage, R Flutey (rep: B Everitt, 40), B Willis, M Collins, A Flavin (rep: R Russell, 40), R Skuse (rep: F Rautenbach, 40), K Roche, B Casey, Juan Manuel Leguizamon (rep: P Gustard, 49), K Dawson, P Murphy (rep: R Strudwick, 61).

So, what will we do this time? Well, we do have a clue, because so many of our players aren’t available, which only leaves those that are, plus one or two of our young tyros. Not a lot of choice, really, unless any of our sick and injured have crept back into contention unexpectedly.

Team Selection

Have you seen a genuinely weak Italian front row? I haven’t. It is the one area of the game where they seem to have made themselves right at home. Assuming that Skusey is still unfit, we have to expect either Rautenbach or Hardwick at 3. I’d expect to see Collins at 1, giving Beefy time enough to prepare his soul for the apres-ski. (Anyway, these old guys need their tea breaks!) That being said, if I were BS I’d also give young Danie Coetzee a well-deserved break and give either Flavin or Paice a chance.

Behind them? Is Nick fit to play? That is the big question. Does Bob need a rest? That may well be a bigger question! I don’t know the answer to either question, but I’d expect to see Strudders start. He seems to be a bit under-used this term, the perpetual bridesmaid for the second season on the trot. A shame, for he offers so much when on song. I’d also expect either Kennedy or Roche to start alongside him.

The back row is an interesting place in which we can expect a huge confrontation. Whoever BS puts in is almost guaranteed to perform, so I’ll leave that for now.

We only have one fit scrum half, so step forward the seemingly indestructable Hodgson, who I am starting to see as a good clubman, in the finest traditions of London Irish. Barry will doubtless step in if our Little Napoleon gets injured.

We know that with ball in hand the Italians can threaten, but our experience of their defence is that it is spongy. Because of the need for that try bonus point, this game is not so much about winning as about winning well, and I’d be tempted to pick a running back-line with loads of play-breaking potential.

Yes, I’d give Mr Laidlaw another chance, and if he is still fit after last night’s 20 minutes in the ‘A’ game, I’d partner him with Shane Geraghty at 12 and either Rodd Penney or James Storey at 13. Sorry, Nils, but the other guys need game time too, and you look a bit slower than this lot!

No Catty? Why risk him? The man is essential to our premiership performance, and he took a huge knock against Wasps. He’ll be the first man to volunteer for this game but on this occasion I’d bench him, and try to keep him fresh for Gloucester, and probably for Pau. He won’t like it, but he knows that he and Riki in combination are our most potent playmakers.

On the wing? I’d love to see Sailosi, and BS plays a good hand of poker (I imagine) but all the Indian signs are that we’ll keep him back until he has learned our defensive drills. So.. Bish and Dom are out but Delon goes on and on, starting every match. Toughies, mate. You’ll just have to keep going because there is no one else! I therefore think it’ll have to be Horak, Armitage and er Topsy… are you doing anything on Saturday? Unless of course BS is ready to do to Sailosi what he did to Riki, and just chuck him in the deep end. Risky but fun.

Disagree? Fine. Who’d you put in our back three?

I might add that we have a French official, so it is unlikely that we will be allowed to suffer as we did in Agen.

How will it finish? Happily! But only if we take it seriously.
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by PGT on Tue Jan 10, 2006 7:58 pm

An interesting selection, only time will tell although I think you will have to wait a while yet as Sailosi is surely not registered (yet) for this competition unless we are allowed to replace Scotty.

As regards the officials, we can but hope you are right and that goes for the touch judges as well. It surely says something when the touch judge nearest the infringement (blatant foul play) sees nothing and yet his opposite number on the opposite side of the field does!
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by OxonRob on Wed Jan 11, 2006 12:19 am

I am sure that Sailosi isn't registered, but hey, why should I permit trivia like that to cloud my narrative?

You'll be asking for facts next!
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by OxonRob on Thu Jan 12, 2006 2:39 pm

Nice to see that Brian has taken my advice!

Nicer still to see Shane Geraghty, Olivier Magne and Richard Skuse back in the squad.
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by dom_pedro on Thu Jan 12, 2006 4:27 pm

I'm glad the management are taking the game (and the next one against Pau) seriously ... reading the messageboards over the last couple of days gives the impression of a lot of complacency. I think that anything less than the full 5 points would disappoint BS wouldn't it?

A quarter-final in the EC would be a great draw for the Madejski and though I don't want us to get ahead of ourselves, was there some suggestion that a good win in the quarters gives us home advantage in the semi?

Oh now look what's happened! I'm talking about semi-finals ... where is the final by the way :wink: ?
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by gabriel on Thu Jan 12, 2006 11:14 pm

The position is that the two top qualifiers for the Quarters, if they win their Quarters, get a home Semi.
This may explain why BS is taking it all rather seriously.
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