While Connacht have yet to play (they kick off against Wasps at 1pm today), it has been a remarkable weekend in the Champions Cup for the other three Irish provinces. Leinster blitzed Northampton, Ulster put five tries on Clermont, and then Munster held Leicester scoreless at Thomond.
While the Irish sides have taken their time to adapt to the new format, this weekend felt like the glory days of the Heineken Cup in the latter few years of the 2000s.
To mark an exceptionally satisfying couple of days, we've had a look through some of the media reaction to three resounding victories Irish sides. Most impressive was Munster, who breezed to a 38-0 win at home to Leicester Tigers.
While Munster impressed, the limp performance of the Tigers did cause much consternation among the English papers.
The Telegraph believes that serious questions must now be asked of Richard Cockerill and Leicester, lamenting the gulf in class between Tigers and Munster:
What a rout. The gulf in class, in intensity, was eye-watering, and it ended up yielding a couple of unwanted records, at least from Leicester’s perspective. This was the two-time champion’s heaviest margin of defeat in their proud European history. It was also the first time they had failed to register a point in a match in 13 years.
Saturday was another highly emotional, highly charged affair, as they have all been since the sudden death of coach and club legend Anthony Foley. The Limerick team are unbeaten since that shocking day in Paris in mid-October.
Foley would have enjoyed this win, that’s for sure. A European performance to bring back memories of their glory years in the mid-noughties, Thomond Park in full cry, “Fields of Athenry” serenading a majestic effort from players who were as fired up as Leicester’s were limp. Their physicality at the breakdown, the pressure they put Leicester under. Relentless.
The Observer's Paul Rees was equally scathing of Tigers, summing the game up by recalling a single moment towards the end of the game:
The story of the match was summed up in the final minutes when Leicester’s replacement hooker, George McGuigan, drove to the Munster line in search of a consolation try. In his way was Stander, who held him up and stripped him of the ball, galling for a club that based its considerable success in years past on physical supremacy.
Will Kelleher of the Mail on Sunday meanwhile, believes that Conor Murray won the battle of the potential Lions scrum-halves, as he went head-to-head with England's Ben Youngs.
The battle for the British & Irish Lions scrum-half jersey has begun and Conor Murray went 1-0 up over Ben Youngs in emphatic style in Limerick.
The Irish No 9 was superb as Munster mauled Leicester Tigers. He dictated the game brilliantly, while Youngs looked tired after a stunning autumn with England.
Munster had a clear plan. They had not beaten Leicester since 2006, losing four of the last six, so it was time to balance the card. And they went about it the best way they know how. Kick high, chase hard, win the penalties and boot them over. Murray was launching box-kicks at almost every phase, each one perfectly placed.
Murray was most certainly to the fore, with the highlight of an outstanding performance this audacious no-look pass that set up Simon Zebo's try.
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