Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Americas action in Magners League - Round 17


This past weekend saw round 17 of the Premier Rugby championshp for Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales - the Magners League. Matches took place on Friday and Saturday with Irish all winning matches as three teams from Ireland are in the top five. In contrast, Scotland´s two teams struggled again as they continue to slide. The better of the Scottish sides, Edinburgh, hosted the second ranked Welsh side and fourth placed team overall, the Cardiff Blues at Murrayfield on Friday. Welsh international winger was the hero as he scored 11 points in his sides 16-11 victory which also featured a try to Chris Czekaj. Edinburgh scored one try to Dutch winger Tim Visser and flyhalf David Blair kicked two penalties. A player not wanted by Pumas selectors, the former Argentina international secondrower, Esteban Lozada played the full 80 minutes for Edinburgh.

A key match for the race to the semi finals took place in Dublin as the former team of Argentina internationals Felipe Contepomi and Mariano Galarza, Leinster hosted Welsh side the Scarlets also on Friday. Leinster won the match 26-15 and in doing so confirmed themselves as third on the ladder while the Scarlets drop down to sixth place. Leinster was packed with international players who were released for the match but the Scarlets were without their internationals. Irish international flyhalf, Jonathan Sexton scored 16 points for Leinster - all from his boot. Both sides scored two tries each.



The luck of the Irish took place in Galway as Connacht notched up an important 31-25 victory over Italian side Benetton Treviso. It was a win, but not an easy one as both sides scored three tries each and the Italians came back after losing 18-0 after 25 minutes of play. Five Argentina born players featured for Treviso with Ignacio Fernández Rouyet starting at prop and Franco Sbaraglini starting at hooker. Three came off the bench as Pedro Di Santo, Gonzalo Padro y Gonzalo García all entered the game in the second half. These players were lost to Argentina as they seeked to play as professionals in Italy. Some, such as Gonzalo Garcia, were wanted by Argentina selectors but opted to play for Italy instead.

Italy´s second side, Aironi, is yet to win a Magners League match this season and may well go the fuill season without a victory as the season is reaching its latter stages. The team traveled to Belfast in Northern Ireland to take on Ulster on Friday and it looked like being a difficult match for Aironi as Ulster were leading 15-0 in the 14th minute after scoring two tries and a penalty. Aironi actually won the remainder of the match by 10-8 but Ulster´s dream start was enough to give them a 23-10 victory and in doing so go ahead of the Scarlets on the ladder. Like Benetton Treviso, Aironi has Argentine players with another prop from Argentina who has never represented Argentina, Leonardo Gamboa, in the starting lineup. A second Argentine player, Gabriel Pizarro came off the bench in the second half.



Top of the table Munster continued to impress as they hosted Welsh side the Newport Gwent Dragons in Limerick on Saturday. The hostes scored five tries to one to defeat the Dragons 38-17. Former All Black Doug Howlett scored two tries and the Stade Français bound utility back, Paul Warwick kicked 11 points. USA international scrumhalf Mike Petri was left out of the Dragons side for the match. The loss for the Dragons all but ends the teams chances of making the semi finals and also looks set to make the side the last palced Welsh team.



The final match of the round took place in Swansea, Wales as the Ospreys hosted Scottish side the Glasgow Warriors and were far too good for in winning the match 37 -6 on Saturday. The Welsh side scored five tries without conceeding any as they showed exactly why they are in second place of the Magners League. Canadian international DTH van der Merwe played left wing for the Warriors and Canadian prop, Kevin Tkachuk came off the bench in the 22nd minute of the first half. Former Argentina international fullback, Bernardo Stortoni came on in the 56th minute for Glasgow.

Table

1 Munster 63
2 Ospreys 54
3 Leinster 51
4 Cardiff Blues 49
5 Ulster 47
6 Scarlets 46
7 Newport 33 
8 Connacht 30 
9 Benetton Treviso 29 
10 Edinburgh 29
11 Glasgow 23
12 Aironi 5

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