Munster and Leinster stumble
As expected, it was a tough opening weekend on the road for Ireland's champion teams.
Minus their matinee idols, both Magners League champions Munster and Heineken Cup champions Leinster fielded sides made up largely of understudies with Glasgow and the Scarlets, respectively, taking advantage.
If Munster coach Tony McGahan had reason to be disappointed following his side's limp 22-9 reversal in Firhill on Friday night, frustration was the primary reaction of his Leinster counterpart Michael Cheika, after a distinctly average Scarlets side managed to eke out an 18-16 victory on Saturday evening in Parc y Scarlets.
Having conceded an early try to Sean Lamont, who exploited some midfield hesitation with straight, hard running, Leinster got their phases going and worked their way back to a 16-7 lead but having been in such a powerful position, they failed to register a second-half score and, while pleased with aspects of the performance, Cheika knows this was a game Leinster left behind them.
“We've got a good enough team to go away and fight for points in every match even without some of our players,” said Cheika.
“But games can turn like that away from home. All of a sudden, the penalty count was against us and we gave away ground. We saw two players sin-binned and we couldn't do anything right.”
Connacht, like Ulster, suffered pain against Welsh opposition, going down 19-12 to the Ospreys.