Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Argentina Players in Round 4 of the Heineken Cup

Despite round 4 of the Heineken Cup starting on Friday with two matches of the round are yet to be completed due to snowy conditions across much of Europe. Some matches scheduled for Saturday were forced to be postponed and in the case of the Glasgow Warriors vs Toulouse, the match has not been able to be played yet and will be played this afternoon in Scotland. Round Four was another set of matches involving a lot of Argentine players as players from the South American country again showed just how good they are. There were also players from the United States and Uruguay playing at the elite level in Europe with international players from these countries scoring tries for their French clubs.

In Group 1 Edinburgh hosted Castres on Monday after snow had made the surface unplayable on both Saturday and Sunday. Castres were targetting a victory to continue the teams good for so far in the Heineken Cup after wins vs Cardff Blues and Edinburgh in rounds two and three. Edinburgh, however managed to claim a late victory in defeating the French side 24-22. Both sides had South American players in the second row with Argentina international Esteban Lozada playing for Edinburgh and Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega for Castres. The Uruguayan scored a try in the first half. Cardiff Blues needed a victory over Northampton to have any chance of staying alive in the group after losing all three pool matches in the earlier rounds. The English side, however, held strong and claimed a 23-19 win in Cardiff. Former All Black, Xavier Rush was redcarded by a high tackle on English test secondrower Courtney Lawes.

There were four Pumas players involved in Group 2 matches as the race to see who will win the group took another twist with Ireland´s Leinster hosting France´s Clermont Auvergne at Aviva Stadium in Dublin. The French side had hosted and defeated Leinster the previous week which meant that Leinster could not afford another loss. The Irish side did not fail to deliver as they were in control of the game from start to finish and won 24-8. Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma played for the visitors. Meanwhile, in Paris dreadful conditions were dominant as Racing Metro looked to back up their away win last weekend in London vs last seasons English Premiership Runner-up, Saracens. It was not to be, however, as the visitors made better use of the conditions and won 19-14. There were three Argentine internationals in the starting lineup for the Parisians in tighthead prop Juan Pablo Orlandi, backrower Alvaro Galindo and fullback Juan Martín Hernández. Despite not being on the winning side, Hernández showed glimpses of what he can do as his comeback following 12 months on the sidelines continues. In what is great news for Argentina, El Mago played well in taking the ball to the line, kicking well from hand and in linking with his colleagues.

Résumé Leinster ASM

Group 3 saw the return to form of Pumas captain Felipe Contepomi as the flyhalf scored a superb individual try and scored a personal total of 18 points for Toulon as the French side moved to the top of the group following a 38-17 victory over London Irish. The French side were leading 17-0 before London Irish fought back to tie the match. Contepomi´s try gave Toulon the lead again and changed the match. In the groups other match Welsh side Ospreys played host to Ireland´s Munster at Liberty Stadium in Swansea. A loss for the Ospreys would mean certain elimination and so they were able to pull off a 19-15 victory which makes the group highly complicated now as only one of the teams are likely to advance to the Quarter Finals.

Group 4 continues to look like one in which two teams will advance to the final eight following a 26-22 victory from Ireland´s Ulster vs English side Bath in Bath on saturday. The win for the Belfast based side puts them on 13 points - five ahead of Bath which means Bath have little to no chance of reaching the play-offs. The English side had former Pumas secondrower, Ignacio Fernández Lobbe on the bench and he entered the field in the 58th minute. France´s Biarritz hosted the newly created Italian side Aironi on friday night with the French side looking to bounce back from their shock defeat to the Italian club the previous week. They were certainly a significantly improved team as they won 34-3 with good performances from Argentine centre Marcelo Bosch and frontrower Eusebio Guiñazú who came on in the secondhalf. The USA also had a player in the form of the legendary Zee Ngwenya who scored a try yet again for Biarritz. Aironi had four players from Argentina in the form of Gabriel PizarroPablo CanavosioMatías Agüero and  Leonardo Gamboa. The win all but guarantees Biarrtiz top spot in the group with two rounds to go.

Welsh side Scarlets are the leaders in Group 5 after defeating Italian side Benetton Treviso in Italy on Ssaturday. The impressive 38-15 bonus point win puts them in charge of the group but does not guarantee victory at all. They still have to face both Perpignan and the Leicester Tigers. Three Argentine players featured for Treviso including Ignacio Fernández RouyetFranco Sbaraglini and Pedro Di Santo. Scarlets fans would have watched on enjoying the 22-22 draw between the Leicester Tigers and Perpignan at Welford Road Stadium in Leicester on Sunday. In snowy conditions the two teams did not hold back in putting on one of the games of the weekend. Leicester had two Argentine props in Marcos Ayerza and Italian representative Martín Castrogiovanni who were very impressive at scrumtime, totally outplaying the French side. Former Pumas secondrower, Rimas Alvarez played for the visitors and showed that despite having retired from international duty 18 months ago he still has what it takes. Alvarez was impressive around the field putting in lots of work at the breakdown. He was yellow carded for an offence which should not even have been a penalty as he touched a a Tigers jumper in the lineout - without force. Tigers secondrower Louis Deacon was not impressed and grapped Alvarez.  Leicester´s questionable selections were seen again this season with no place for or Lucas González Amorisino or Horacio Agulla. Players in their positions did not justify their exclusion.

Group 6 has seen only one match with Glasgow vs Toulouse to take place latter on today. Two Argentine players will feature for the French side in the form of secondrower Patricio Albacete and scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo as the current Heineken Cup Champions look to secure a home Quarter Final. The London Wasps look a good bet for a Quarter Finals place as one of the two best runners up from the group stage following their impressive 37-10 win vs Welsh side Newport Dragons on Sunday. The four try victory puts the Englise side on 15 points. Canadian Matt Evans continues to miss out on game time for the Dragons as his club is in no rush to hurry up his recovery from injury.

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