Sunday, April 24, 2011

Magners League - Round 21


Round 21 of the Magners League took place from Thursday- Saturday with a full round of action involving players from Argentina and Canada in consideration for places at this years Rugby World Cup. The first match took place in Cardiff on Thursday evening as the Cardiff Blues played host to Italian side Benetton Treviso. Cardiff needed a win to stay in contention for a place in the final four and they succeeded as the teams 29-9 victory sees the Blues sit in fourth position. Two Argentine players featured for Benetton Treviso in the form of Franco Sbaraglini and Ignacio Fernández Rouyet.

An all-Irish battle took place in Belfast on Friday evening as Ulster hosted Connacht and notched up a 27-16 victory to underline the teams impressive season as the countdown to the play-offs continues. Also on Friday, Scottish side the Glasgow Warriors hosted Welsh side the Scarlets in a highly entertinaing match at Firhill. In a match featuring plenty of tries, the Scarlets were impressive in winning the encounter 37-29. It was the final match at home for former Argentine international fullback, Bernardo Stortoni who, despite the games result, was man of the match. A player out of favor with the Pumas coaches, Federico Martín Aramburu, was on the bench for Glasgow while Canadian sensation Daniel van der Merwe started on the wing and scored two of Glasgow´s three tries. van der Merwe is one to watch out for at this years Rugby World Cup. Fellow Canadian international, Kevin Tkachuk, started for Glasgow at loosehead prop.


On Saturday, Scottish side, Edinburgh continued its impressive recent run of form with a 27-15 victory over Welsh side the Newport Gwent Dragons at Murrayfield. A player currently out of favor with the Argentina national coaches, Esteban Lozada, started in the secondrow for Edinburgh and despite being dropped from the Los Pumas squad for the November 2010 tour of Europe, he is certainly a contender for the World Cup. His performances as of late have been an improvement over the form he showed leading into the November tour.

Italian side Aironi played host to Irish province, Leinster in Viadana in another match on Saturday. The Irish fielded a team packed with stars and scored a 20-8 victory to move back into second place on the ladder while Aironi remain rooted at the bottom. The result is further evidence of the positive future of Italian rugby with players being exposed to regular high performance level matches vs Irish, Scottish and Welsh teams in the Magners League. Leinster scored two tries to one, both to key Irish international players - Sean O´Brien and Cian Healy but not enough to secure a bonus point. The Italian side featured two Argentina players in the starting XV in Gabriel Pizarro and Horacio San Martín, who played out of position at fullback. Argentine born Italian international scrumhalf, Pablo Canavosio, came on int he second half as a replacement. San Martín is a contender for a place in Los Pumas squad for New Zealand 2011.



The final match took alpce in Swanseas as the Ospreys blew a chance and went down 22-20 to tournament leaders, Munster. USA born flyhalf, Ronan O'Gara slotted a penalty with time up on the clock which saw Munster defeat the Welsh side. With only one round remaining the Ospreys chances of making the semi finals appear over, especially given the fact that the fourth placed Cardiff Blues have an extra match to play vs the Dragons following the matches cancellation due to snow earlier in the season. This would mean that Welsh Wizard, james Hook has played his final match for the Ospreys at home as he is to join up with Perpignan in France after New Zealand 2011.

Magners League Table

1 Munster 79
2 Leinster 65 
3 Ulster 63
4 Cardiff Blues 60
5 Ospreys 59
6 Scarlets 57
7 Newport Gwent Dragons44
8 Edinburgh 42
9 Connacht 39
10 Benetton Treviso 34
11 Glasgow Warriors 32
12 Aironi 11

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