Socino: It's Brother Against Brother

The trip to Ireland was very tough. Friday night last week will be very difficult to forget given the way we lost to Munster in the tenth round of the Guinness PRO14.

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After losing to Newport Dragons, the squad selected to travel to Ireland included many young players that had been given chances during the November international window with some of our players on test duty. It was an experience that will undoubtedly suit them well moving forward.

We played against a Munster side that fielded many internationals and British & Irish Lions, a team full of class and experience.

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To make things even harder, the game was not played at Thomond Park, one of two stadiums in the city, but instead at the Irish Independent Park, that unlike Thomond Park, has artificial turf, giving Munster an extra edge as we are accustomed to playing on natural grass.

We knew it would be a difficult game and that we had to give our best to be able to compete.

During the first forty minutes, we had some good passages mostly defending, although we were not accurate, which against a team such as Munster is a luxury you can’t afford.

They took advantage and turned every one of our mistakes into points, sending us to the break down 34-7.

It was certainly not what we had planned, or what we had been preparing during the week. We had to change the attitude in order to restore our pride in the second half.

We had more possession but, unfortunately, lack of accuracy cost us dearly. We managed a second try after a good sequence of phases in attack. They also did their job and the game finished 44-14.

It was another defeat on the back of many of our mistakes and their ability to control the game throughout the eighty minutes. I hope it is a turning point.

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We are back in Europe this weekend when we play my old club, the Newcastle Falcons, where I spent the last four seasons, where I have friends on and off the field but, most importantly, where my brother Santiago plays.

They defeated Toulon in France and Montpellier at home in Newcastle. We lost against Montpellier away – we did get a bonus point – and we beat Toulon at home, a four-try win.

Our pool is very much open, with everything to play for and these two games can decide the future of both teams in the Cup.

Playing against Santiago will be interesting, even fun. I am the oldest of four – two sisters and Santiago, four years younger. We played together in Matreros and with the Falcons. He is having a very good season and look forward to coming across him on the field.

I do expect him to respect his older brother!

The Guinness PRO14 will be back on December 21stwhen we host at Murrayfield our big rival, the Glasgow Warriors. We will be discussing in a future column what that game means to us.

El viaje a Irlanda fue muy duro. La noche del viernes va a ser difícil de olvidar por la forma en que caímos contra Munster, por la décima ronda del Guinness PRO14.

Después de la derrota contra Newport Dragons viajamos a Irlanda con un plantel con muchos jugadores jóvenes, que habían sumado experiencia en estas semanas debido a la ausencia de los jugadores internacionales escoces durante la ventana de noviembre. Fue una experiencia que servirá, indudablemente, para el futuro.

Enfrente, tuvimos a un equipo de Munster que puso en cancha a muchos jugadores internacionales, incluyendo jugadores de los British and Irish Lions, repleto de clase y experiencia.

Como si fuera necesario, encima el partido no se jugó en el Thomond Park que es uno de los dos estadios de la ciudad. Jugamos en el Irish Independent Park, que a diferencia de Thomond Park, tiene césped sintético, dándole a Munster una ventaja extra contra nosotros que estamos acostumbrados al césped natural.

Sabíamos que iba a ser un partido muy difícil y que tendríamos que mostrar lo mejor de nosotros para poder competir.

Durante primeros 40 minutos alternamos momentos de buen rugby, más en defensa que en ataque, con imprecisiones, las cuales ante un equipo como Munster no te podés dar el lujo de hacer.

Ellos aprovecharon y capitalizaron cada error nuestro para marcar puntos, y nos fuimos al descanso 34 a 7 abajo.

No era, obviamente, lo que habíamos planificado, ni mucho menos todo lo que se había trabajado en la semana. Había que cambiar la actitud para poder dejar otra imagen en el segundo tiempo.

Ahí, tuvimos muchísima más posesión de pelota, pero lamentablemente, volvimos a ser imprecisos. Logramos marcar un segundo try, luego de una serie de muy buenas faces en ataque. Ellos también hicieron lo suyo y cerraron el marcador 44 a 14.

Una dura derrota, marcada por muchos errores de nuestra parte y una gran calidad de ellos para controlar el partido por los ochenta minutos. Ojalá sea un punto de quiebre.

Esta semana se vuelve a Europa y vamos a jugar nada menos que contra mi ex club, el Newcastle Falcons, donde pasé las ultimas cuatro temporadas, donde tengo amigos dentro y fuera de la cancha, pero más importante, donde juega mi hermano Santiago.

Ellos vienen de derrotar a Toulon en Francia y a Montpellier en Newcastle. En cambio, nosotros perdimos en calidad de visitante contra Montpellier (sumando punto bonus) y logramos una gran victoria de local contra Toulon (marcando cuatro tries).

El grupo se encuentra más que abierto, con todo por jugarse. Estos próximos dos partidos pueden llegar a marcar el destino de ambos en la copa.

Jugar contra Santiago va a ser interesante y hasta divertido. Soy el mayor de cuatro hermanos – dos hermanas y Santiago, de quien soy cuatro años más grande. Jugamos juntos en Los Matreros y también en los Falcons. Está jugando en gran nivel y espero cruzármelo en la cancha en algún momento.

¡Supongo respetará a su hermano mayor!

El Guinness PRO14 volverá el 21 de diciembre cuando en nuestra casa de Murrayfield jugaremos contra nuestro gran rival, los Glasgow Warriors. Ya iremos contando lo que significa ese partido.

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Conventional wisdom says that if you've played and beaten a team twice in a season, then the third time is enormously difficult; Saint Mary's put paid to that wisdom with a dominant 71-12 victory.