Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Magners League - Round 11

Round eleven of this seasons Magners League again featured players from the Americas matching it up with the best of four elite European rugby countries - Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. It was the first weekend of what is a two weekends of Magners League derby matches. There were some big results, notably in Wales with the Scarlets being dominated by Ospreys. On the other end of the scale there was a first ever match between the two Italian sides who have entered the Magerns League this season. The match between the Newport Dragons and the Cardiff Blues was cancelled due to snow and a frozen field at Rodney Parade.

The west Irish city of Galway played host to Connacht vs Munster on Monday with the visitors huge favorites to come away witha  victory. It was not the greatest of matches, however, as only one try was scored with Munster winning 16-12. The goalkicking battle was won by Connacht´s Ian Keatley who did better than USA born and Irish international Ronan O´Gara. But with Tom Gleeson´s try Munster the favorites took the lead and with O´Gara kicking a drop goal it was game over. The win maintains Munster´s position at the top of the table.

The Scottish derby was a great result for the home side as the Glasgow Warriors played better than Edinburgh in their match on Monday. Glasgow played with two Canadian international players in DTH van der Merwe and Kevin Thachuk and two former Argentina players in Bernardo Stortoni and Federico Martín Aramburu. The four players have been getting plenty of game time for Glasgow but it has been the left winger, van der Merwe doing all the damage as the 24 year old try scoring machine scored his 6th try in 8 Magners League appearances this season. He has also scored for Glasgow in the Heineken Cup, most recently last weekends loss vs champions Toulouse in France. van der Merwe´s try was one of three as Glasgow ran out 30-18 winners with David Blair scoring all of Edinburgh´s points via goal kicking as he slotted six penalties.

The Welsh battle of Ospreys vs Scarlets on Monday in Swansea was tipped to be the game of the round with both teams performing well this season. The Scarlets had come off two Heineken Cup victories vs Italy´s Benetton Treviso whilst the Ospreys are considered the best Welsh side and are packed with international players. The match failed to live up to expectations however with the Ospreys utterly dominating the Scarlets to win 60-17 scoring seven tries. At one point the home side was winning 32-3. The star of the match was Welsh reserve flyhalf Dan Biggar who scored 21 points including a try.

Ulster played host to neighbours Leinster in another Monday match. With a number of the visiting sides test players rested for the encounter, a close match was expected however the class of Leinster was overwhelming as last years beaten finalists came out on top 30-13 at Belfast. Ulster´s USA international centre Paul Emerick did not feature nor did Leinster´s Argentine international secondrower Mariano Galarza. The star was the highly promising Leinster backrower  Sean O'Brien whjo scored two tries playing at 8 in place of Irish international Jamie Heaslip.

The rounds action started on Friday, however, with the Italian derby of Bennetton Treviso hosting Aironi and coming out on top 15-10. There were plenty of Argentine names involved in this match with five playing for Treviso and three for Aironi. For Treviso Augusto Allori, Franco Sbaraglini and Pedro Di Santo were all in the starting lineup and Diego Vidal and Ignacio Fernández Royet were used as replacements. Argentine born Italian international prop Matías Agüero and Gabriel Pizarro started for Aironi and shortly after kickoff Italian international Pablo Canavosio came on for the visitors.

Round 12 Fixtures
Friday Aironi v Benetton Treviso, Stadio Luigi Zaffanella, Viadana
Friday Cardiff Blues v Ospreys, Cardiff City Stadium, Cardiff

Saturday Leinster v Connacht, Royal Dublin Society, Dublin
Saturday Scarlets v Dragons, Parc Y Scarlets, Llanelli
Saturday Munster v Ulster, Thomond Park, Limerick

Sunday Edinburgh v Glasgow, Murrayfield, Edinburgh

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