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... 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 Nike Zoom Sale . 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LOUIS -- Former Cy Young award winner Chris Carpenter took another step toward possibly returning to the mound by tossing a pain-free bullpen session prior to Friday nights game with the Colorado Rockies. The 38-year-olds career appeared as if it may be over when it was announced in February that he was unlikely to pitch in 2013 as he was still suffering from chronic pain in his neck, shoulder and arm. Those same symptoms shelved Carpenter for 150 games last season, though he returned late and pitched in the post-season. But when his arm felt pain free this spring after playing catch with his 10-year-old son Sam, Carpenter notified Cardinals General Manager John Mozeliak and was given the go ahead to try again. Fridays bullpen session was the fourth for the 38-year-old Carpenter, who tossed about 70 pitches, including a wide variety of breaking balls. "Myy arm has come back and I feel strong," Carpenter said.dddddddddddd "Im not trying to be a hero or do anything crazy. I just want to go out and see if I can pitch." Manager Mike Matheny and pitching coach Derek Lilliquist watched Carpenters session. Matheny said he was impressed. "Im excited for him," Matheny said. "We didnt know exactly what we were dealing with at this time in his career. But fortunately, he made a (good) turn and he feels better. He looks good." Carpenter is 144-94 for his career, which has been beset by injuries that have cost him the better part of five seasons. He knows not to get too excited about a bullpen session. "Im not going to have super-high expectations," Carpenter said. "But as long as it continues to go well, Im going to go out there and take that next step." ' ' '