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Stuart Barnes has high praise for Connacht after the underdogs won the PRO12 title on Saturday and looks at the positives and n

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Stuart Barnes has high praise for Connacht after the underdogs won the PRO12 title on Saturday and looks at the positives and negatives from Englands win over Wales ahead of their tour to Australia. Max Carey Jersey ... 1. Where to start on a weekend where the club competitions reached their finale and over 80,000 people packed into Twickenham to see England and Wales meet? The answer can only be Edinburgh. The best team in Europe were sealing their superb season a few hundred miles south, well come to them later but this was a day for rugby romantics and Connacht. John Muldoons team weathered a five minute shower of Leinster pressure before taking the Guinness Pro12 final by the scruff and utterly outplaying the favourites.Those of us outside the Connacht camp wondered whether their inexperience would tell, we wondered whether playing on the big stage in front of a 34,500 crowd would cause them to freeze. We were wrong to wonder. They didnt. We discovered that Pat Lams men relished the sound surface and the absence of hurricane Galway. Their home crowd has inspired them all season but the wind and rain has held them back. The first half an hour or so was thrilling as they ripped the leagues meanest defence to shreds with their freewheeling attacking play in benign conditions. At global level New Zealand proved positive rugby can prevail. At club level in Europe, Connacht did the game a similar favour. No one was sneering at the rugby romantics come full-time. Highlights of the Guiness Pro 12 final between Connacht and Leinster from Murrayfield Stadium. 2. All season it was a consummate team effort, start to finish, but two men deserve individual mentions. Muldoon was playing his 275th game for the team. A one-club man and the glue that has held the team together through the bad years, the unfettered joy on his face and emotion in his voice when interviewed by Graham Simmons after the final whistle was my moment of the weekend. Muldoon put in a man-of-the-match performance as his side beat Leinster 20-10 in the Pro 12 final Connachts achievements cannot be mentioned without a word also for Lam. He has endured some tough coaching times in Auckland but in Ireland he assembled a team who believed in his positive style of rugby. They were also defensively savvy. This was a masterclass of coaching from the former Samoa international. Yes, they were romantic in their attacking adventure but dont be kidded, they were a ruthlessly professional side as well. Their presence will be a massive boost for the Champions Cup which lacked some atmosphere this season. If I have one regret this weekend it was the impossibility of hitching a ride back to Galway for what would have been the Sunday to end all Sundays. Lam claims the Pro 12 Championship crown is just the start for his side. 3. In contrast Leinster limped away from Edinburgh. The margin was ten points but with AJ McGinty losing his radar it distorted the difference between the teams. Many thought the semi-final victory against Ulster was a sign of them coming to form at the right moment as Wasps so famously used to do. It was not. It was a flash in the pan. Wooden and predictable was their way on Saturday, as it has been for much of the season. Against some of the better teams in Europe their defeats were inevitable - against the best team in their league, so it proved again.4. The manner of the victory puts Joe Schmidt once more under the spotlight. My Irish colleagues in the media have been critical of Irelands lumbering style of rugby for a while. Schmidts argument against Ireland playing like his great Leinster side did was the absence of players capable of playing with speed of thought and body. Despite defeat in the Guinnes Pro12 Final, Leinsters Eoin Reddan suggested that Connacht have got a lot right both on and off the field this season Well, the Connacht back three looked the part on Saturday while Leinsters wings and full-back were heavy legged. The Leinster trio are on the flight to South Africa, none of the Connacht men are making the trip. The microscopes are out.5. Now to the utterly unromantic Saracens. Back-to-back English titles with the European Champions Cup in their trophy cabinet, this is the most powerful side in England since Leicester dominated country and continent from 1999-2002. They looked a little flat for half an hour in the second half but when Exeter got within striking distance they scored again to keep the contenders at a distance. Only Harlequins beat Saracens when they were anywhere near full strength this season. Like that great Leicester side they suffer in the media from being too dominant. There is more to their game than they are credited. Somehow I dont think Saracens will care. Congratulations on a superb season. Eddie Jones launched a vigorous defence of fly-half George Fords performance, saying people need to get some perspective after Englands win over Wales 6. While Owen Farrell was playing like the Lord of the Manor yet again, George Ford played the part of intruder one day later. At the moment there is no comparison between the two players and I have always been a great believer in Fords long term talent. Right now the discrepancy between the two men is huge. One has no confidence - as his kicking illustrated - the other is oozing the stuff. If it comes down to a choice between one and the other as fly-half in Australia, there is no choice. Highlights of Englands 27-13 win over Wales at Twickenham 7. It may be that both will play together because England cannot resolve their pickle at inside centre. Luther Burrell picked a cracking line for his try against Wales but was otherwise too one dimensional in his game. Manu Tuilagi is again crocked and Ben Teo looked anything but Test class against a Connacht team whose pace of game at times exposed him. Jones dreams of a 12 who can punch the gain line but none of the contenders are convincing. The only other options are Henry Slade and Ollie Devoto. The one disappointed against Saracens, the other remains an interesting player but one with more potential than proof so far in his career. 10/12 will be a fascinating selection for the first test in Brisbane.8. Overall England will be reasonably pleased with their performance on Sunday. The set piece was solid, the structure of the English game rebuilt after Australia destroyed their foundations in the World Cup. Jones builds his foundations first. Thereafter comes the instinctive stuff which is taking its time to emerge from the debris of autumn 2015. Still, English teams have more chance of winning by reverting to the structures than having no solid foundations at all. To win a World Cup might be a different matter but to win a Test in Australia, England are just about on course. To win a series they have to sort out 9, 10 and 12. Warren Gatland was reasonably happy with aspects of Wales game despite their 27-13 defeat 9. Warren Gatland put a brave face on what was a poor performance by Wales. Yes, they started well but to concede five tries was something to set the alarm bells ringing. When England reached the wider channels and played with pace Wales were troubled. It is no trade secret to let on that the All Blacks have a few handy performers with the ball out wide.10. On the balance of what we saw at Twickenham, England look far more likely to win a series against Australia than Wales a Test against New Zealand. Either would be magnificent achievements. What with Ireland under pressure to produce a performance in South Africa, we have the best month of rugby since last October and you can see it all live, here on Sky Sports.Ill take a brief column break next week. Its time for a weekend with Mrs Barnes before the long flight down south. Back with a few (hopefully not too jet lagged) thoughts in Melbourne from Monday, June 13.Watch Englands tour to Australia, Wales tour to New Zealand and Irelands tour to South Africa on Sky Sports. Click here for fixtures. Catch the Tests without a contract for £6.99 on NOW TV. Also See: Ford boo-boys anger Jones Greenwood: Perfect preparation Farrell: We want more titles Follow @SkySportsRugby Will Craig Jersey .A. remained bitter for Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers on the long flight back home to New York. Jim Bibby Jersey .com) - Rick Nash scored twice and Derek Stepan chipped in a goal with one assist as the New York Rangers claimed a 5-2 decision over Calgary at the Saddledome. https://www.cheappiratesjerseys.us/2072e-kevin-kramer-jersey-pirates.html . Now, Sarah Burkes legacy will live on in Canadas Sports Hall of Fame. Burke, who tragically died at age 29 from a training accident in 2012, headlined the 2014 class named for induction Wednesday.The Calgary Flames were hard-working team last season, but they werent overly skilled and had subpar goaltending. They made a move in free agency to address the latter concern. Numbers Game examines the Flames addition of Jonas Hiller. The Flames Get: G Jonas Hiller. Hiller, 32, has been an above average starting goaltender over the course of his career, posting a .916 save percentage, but the past three seasons have not been so kind, as Hillers .911 save percentage ranks 22nd out of 29 goaltenders to play at least 100 games in that span. Of those below Hiller on that list, Steve Mason and Ondrej Pavelec are the only ones set to be clear number ones with their teams going into next season. Hillers even-strength save percentage over that time, .922, is below average, at least among goaltenders that have played starters minutes. Being a below-average starter can still be an improvement for the Flames, but it should also manage expectations for Hiller, who was beaten out for playoff playing time in Anaheim, by rookies Frederik Andersen and John Gibson. Even so, in Calgary, Hiller will be battlinng Karri Ramo for playing time and Ramo had a . Steven Brault Jersey. 911 save percentage last season -- his first year in the NHL since 2008-2009 -- and owns a .902 save percentage in 88 career games. To his credit, Ramo came on after a slow start last season, posting a .918 save percentage in 30 games from December through the end of the season, so maybe he can compete with Hiller for playing time. Even if Hiller might not be great at this stage of his career, hes likely an upgrade on Ramo and thats what matters to the Flames. With Hiller and Ramo together, the Flames have a chance to get something close to league-average goaltending. That may not be enough to get them into playoff contention -- they ranked 26th in puck possession last season, after all -- but he makes the Flames better. Signed for $9-million over two seasons, Hiller is being paid like a starting goaltender, but the short term makes this a smart, low-risk move for the Flames. Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook. ' ' '

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