Monday, January 24, 2011
Argentina Players in Round 6 of the Heineken Cup
The final round of group matches in the 2010-2011 Heineken Cup took place over the weekend with the Quarter Finalists being confirmed and lots of Argentine action taking place. With the World Cup approaching rapidly, the current European season, and soon to start Super Rugby season, is vital to players of all twenty teams that will compete for the grand prize in New Zealand in September and October - the Rugby World Cup. On such player taking the opportunity is Biarritz back Marcelo Bosch who now appears to be not only a sure choice for Argentina´s squad but also looks like challenging Gonzalo Tiesi for the spot.
Group 1 was won by the Northampton Saints in Round Five of the Heineken Cup and they travelled to France to face Castres in round six on Saturday. They recorded an impressive 23-12 win which secures Northampton a home Quarter Final when the Heineken Cup resumes after the Six Nations in April. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega was in the starting XV for Castres and made a charging run in the phase before his sides first try. Wiith the loss Castres finished up in third spot in the group. Welsh side Cardiff Blues jumped ahead of Castres to finish second in the group after notching up a 21-14 away victory vs Scottish side Edinburgh at Murrayfield also on Saturday. Argentine international secondrower, Esteban Lozada started for Edinburgh.
Group 2 was a more competitive group and won which Leinster had wrapped up in Round 5 after defeating Saracens by a big margin to put themselves in an unreachable position on the table. Despite already having confirmed their place in the final 8, they nonetheless did not travel to Paris lightly. They scored a huge 36-11 victory over Racing Metro on Friday which guarantees them a home Quarter Final. Argentine backrower, Àlvaro Galindo started for Racing Metro as did flyhalf Juan Martín Hernández who slotted two penalties for the Parisians.
Meanwhile, London club Saracens hosted central French side Clermont with the French champions needing a win and a bonus point to give themselves any real chance of making the final 8. They managed to pull it off winning 24-14 as they scored their fourth try in the 78th minute of play. Clermont played an experimental side which involved none of the Argentine players. An Argentine prop who plays international rugby for Italy was on the field for Saracens, however as Carlos Nieto started for the English club. Nieto was joined by two USA international players in secondrower Hayden Smith and the returning Chris Wyles who played fullback. The bonus point win gave Clermont the maximum five points but it was not enough for the French side to reach the Quarter Finals of the Heineken Cup. It did, however, see Clermont finish high enugh to book a Quarter Final in the Amlin Challenge Cup.
Toulon had already guaranteed themselves first place in Group 3 and so used their away match in Swansea vs Welsh side the Ospreys to field a vastly different side. All in all, 14 of the 15 players did not play in the team that defeated Munster the previous week. Saturdays match thus handed the home side an advantage and they took it as they knocked over the big spending French side 29-17 but it was not easy as they had to come back from behind to get the win. Both Felipe Contepomi and Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe were rested.
Munster rebounded from their loss to Toulon to defeat English side London Irish 28-14 at home. In probably the worst match of the season, scores were tied at 0-0 at the interval. Despite the win, Munster have been eliminated as they have no chance of being one of the best two second placed teams from the group stage.
Group 4 will have two Quarter Finalists after both Biarritz and Ulster picked up bonus point victories on Saturday to be tied on 22 points. Biarritz claim first place due to their superior try count but had to notch up a four try win vs Bath which is no easy task and Biarritz had to bring their A-Game to get the job done. The French side won the match 26-19 scoring four tries to three but were leading from early in the match and never looked like losing. Argentine international centre, Marcelo Bosch had a very impressive game for Biarritz as he defended well, broke the line and linked well with his wingers. He set up Biarritz´s second try as he threw a cut out pass to winger Iain Balshaw who scored in the corner. In the second half he passed to USA international winger Taku Ngwenya in the tackle who accelerated to touch down for the winners. The form of Bosch is a highly positive sign for Argentina and his versatility appears to be ideal. After arriving as a flyhalf and playing there for Biarritz and then at inside centre and fullback, Bosch seems to be really using his chance now at outside centre which is a position that Argentina require more depth. Former Argentina international second rower, Ignacio Fernández Lobbe came on for Bath in the second half.
Biarritz lost last weekend to Irish province Ulster in a tryless match. The win gave Ulster a great chance of making the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals for the first time in over a decade and they travelled to Viadana to face Italian side Aironi. Like Biarritz´s clash with Bath it was a must win match and the Irish side put on a great performance as they won 43-6 after scores were 10-6 at halftime. Three Argentine players featured for Aironi in Italian international scrumhalf Pablo Canavosio who played wing, prop Matías Agüero and centre Gabriel Pizarro.
Two matches took place on Sunday in Group 5 with the possibility of two sides qualifying for the Quarter Finals. In England the Leicester Tigers hosted Italian side Benetton Treviso and comfortably won 62-15 to secure themselves a place in the final 8. Argentine loosehead prop, Marcos Ayerza was in the starting XV for the winners while Pumas winger, Horacio Agulla played the final 30 minutes after coming off the bench as did Argentine born Italian tighthead prop, Martín Castogiovanni. Benetton Treviso had a large supply of Argentine players with Italian international centre Gonzalo Garcia playing as well as Pedro Di Santo, Franco Sbaraglini and Ignacio Fernández Rouyet.
The win put the English champions into a Quarter Final but it did not give them a home Quarter Final because their big wein was not enough to finish top of the group. French side Perpignan hosted Welsh side the Scarlets also on Sunday and impressed in winning 37-5. The bonus point win sees both Perpignan and Leicester finish with 22 points but Perpignan claim top spot after defeating the Tigers at home and drawing in Leicester. Perpignan look set to make history by hosting a Quarter Final in Spain at the same venue which hosted the 1992 Olympic Games in Barcelona.
Résumé du match USAP SCARLETS
Group 6 had already been wrapped up by last seasons Heineken Cup champions, Toulouse and the French champions travelled to England to face the London Wasps who had been eliminated after losing an away match to the Glasgow Warriors in Round 5. Toulouse were expected to win again to be one of only two teams alongside Northampton to have won every match however when centre Florian Fritz was red carded early in the second half the French sides chances took a massive hit. The tackle was clearly a spear and should result in a lengthly suspension for Fritz who afterwards gave the crowd a piece of his mind. London Wasps went on to win 21-16. Argentina´s world class secondrower, Patricio Albacete played for Toulouse and Nicolas Vergallo was on the bench.
Welsh side the Newport Gwent Dragons hosted Scottish side the Glasgow Warriors who finished off in third place in the pool after winning 23-16 at Rodney Parade in Newport. Two former Pumas featured for Glasgow with Federico Martín Aramburu starting at 13 and Bernardo Stortoni playing 15. Canadian international winger, DTH van der Merwe played left wing for the Scottish side and Canadian prop Kevin Thachuk was on the bench. Both Canadian players are certain to feature in this years World Cup in New Zealand. van der Merwe continued his utterly outstanding season by scoring a double for the Glasgow Warriors, in the 64th and 71st minute. He looms as Canada's best attacking weapon and certainly should offer the North Americans a lot in attack as they target wins over Tonga and Japan.
Heineken Cup Quater Finals
Northampton vs Ulster, Northampton, England
Leinster vs Leicester, Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland
Perpignan vs Toulon, Barcelona, Spain
Biarritz vs Toulouse, San Sebastián, Spain
The Quarter Finals will be played from April 08-10 and for the first time ever two matches will be played in Spain.