5 Talking Points From An Epic Weekend Of Sport

5 Talking Points From An Epic Weekend Of Sport
By Cian Tracey
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We take a look back at five of the major talking points from a truly brilliant weekend of sports action. From the sublime of Zebo to the shame of Popov, the opening weekend of Spring was one which won't be forgotten in a hurry.




The Six Nations Reminds us of its Greatness







Ireland and Wales kicked off the 2013 RBS Six Nations in Cardiff on Saturday afternoon and in some style. In an absolutely frenetic 80 minutes of rugby, with both teams repeatedly putting their bodies on the line, it was Ireland who emerged as victors. From the very first whistle, the intensity was huge with both teams attempting to run the ball from all over the pitch. Sean O'Brien's 23 tackles summed up the commitment that was on show. It was one of Ireland's Six Nations debutant who stole the headlines with a piece of mesmerizing skill that Leo Messi would have been proud of. Simon Zebo's deft touch in the build up to Cian Healy's try was something truly remarkable. Keith Wood dubbed it "rugby as sex". And who could argue? In truth, his description could have been used for the entire game.

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Next to take the stage were England and Scotland in their annual Calcutta Cup clash. With Owen Farrell pulling the strings at fly half, it was the home side who dominated the majority of the game. Farrell who has come in for plenty of heavy criticism since being nominated for the IRB player of the year put in a flawless performance ahead of England's meeting with Ireland next Sunday. Scotland did show glimpses and in Stuart Hogg and Johnny Beattie, they enjoyed some good moments. Hogg's try was without question, the score of the game and although his side were defeated by 20 points, there was some fine rugby played by both sides throughout.




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Sunday afternoon. Some French fair would be the perfect remedy for a sore head. Or so plenty of us thought. Italy caused yet another major Six Nations upset when they repeated the same result from Rome, two years ago. Led by the imperious Sergio Parisse, the Italians were fully deserving of their victory. Played in much the same vein as the Ireland game, the intensity was ferocious throughout. With 149 points and and 16 tries scored in the opening weekend of the tournament, I think I speak for the majority in saying, it's good to have the Six Nations back on our television screens.




Lights Out At The Cottage and the Super Dome

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Earlier in this season's Champions League campaign, Man United were victims of floodlight failure in Braga. This weekend they suffered the same fate, this time in London. Just before half time, the floodlights failed, immersing Craven Cottage into a sea of darkness. However after about ten minutes, play resumed and all was well again.




Last night at the Super Bowl, the biggest sporting event in the world, the lights failed. With the Fulham sparky not in the house, play was halted early in the third quarter for thirty five minutes. According to Reuters, "an electrical load caused a sensor to open a breaker and partially cut power to the dome "in order to isolate the issue, a safety feature that worked as designed." It has been widely reported that it was Beyonce's half time show that caused the over load. Surely you're not still complaining about being kept up that extra half an hour?

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Manchester City Lose Further Ground in The Title Race




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After title rivals Manchester United claimed a late win over Fulham on Saturday evening, it was up to City, to cut the ten point lead which United had opened up on them. A home game against an ever improving Liverpool side was never going to be an easy task but in truth, Roberto Mancini's men were lucky to escape with just a point. In what was an excellent game of football which had plenty of cracking goals, it was a Pepe Reina blunder which allowed Sergio Aguero to expertly score the equalizer.




City have majorly struggled since Yaya Toure departed for the African Cup of Nations. When they signed Javi Garcia, it was hoped that he would plug the hole left by the powerful Ivorian but Garcia has failed to make any meaningful impression in England. It again raises the question as to why Mancini decided to offload Nigel de Jong for a player who seems inferior. Ivory Coast were eliminated from the African Cup of Nations over the weekend which will come as a welcome relief for City. With 13 games remaining, the title race is far from over just yet. But it's hard to see United again relinquishing such a lead over their neighbours




Brian O'Driscoll is Far From Finished Just yet







Much was made of Declan Kidney's decision to remove Brian O'Driscoll as Ireland rugby captain. Plenty felt that Ireland's greatest ever player should be given one final hurrah while others felt that without the "burden of the captaincy", he could concentrate on his own game. Whether or not this was a stroke of genius by Declan Kidney is open to debate but the fact is that, O'Driscoll was immense in Ireland's victory in the Millennium Stadium and was clearly playing with a point to prove. His pass for Zebo's opening try was special.




O'Driscoll may not have been wearing the proverbial armband but his leadership was clear for all to see from the off. At one point late on in the game, you even saw Jamie Heaslip look to him for direction. A simple point to the corner from O'Driscoll spoke volumes of his leadership qualities. With a Lions tour looming, after the weekend's action, it is had to see a better man to lead that side. O'Driscoll was over looked for the captaincy for Paul O'Connell in the last series, surely the 2013 tour will be his moment. In an interview with the BBC last week, O'Driscoll stated that this could well be his final Six Nations campaign, but if the performance that he put in on Saturday is anything to go by, he is far from finished just yet.




Goran Popov's Despicable Moment of Madness




In a weekend of enthralling sports action, there is always one who will lower the tone. Goran Popov's act of spitting in the direction of Spurs defender Kyle Walker was disgraceful. And what was arguably worse was he reaction. His attempts to play dumb in trying to portray his innocence was pathetic. A straight red card which will earn him an automatic three match ban will surely be further punished by the FA. As Popov isn't on Twitter, it was left to public enemy number one, Peter Odemwingie to relay his apology to the fans.







In what has been a poor few weeks for West Brom, their manager Steve Clarke was furious at Popov's act. He fumed: "I am disgusted. He's let everyone down. We paid a big price and as a result lost the game. He has let the group down, he has let the supporters down and he has let the club down." Something tells me, Popov and Odemwingie might be getting to know each other a whole lot better over the next few weeks when they are likely to be training separate from the first team.

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