Thursday, May 12, 2011

Magners League - Round 22

The regular season of the Celtic-Italian league, the Magners League, came to a close over the past weekend as a full round of six league matches took place. The four semi-finalists were confirmed with Munster well and truely dominating the lague to finish well in front in first position. Irish dominance saw Leisnter and Ulster finish in third place while Welsh side, the Ospreys finished fourth after sneaking home to secure a two poitn victory in Viadana. Consequently the Magners League semi-finals will both be played in Ireland with Leinster vs Ulster to take place on Friday in Dublin and Munster vs Ospreys to take place on Saturday in Limerick.

The Ospreys´ very nearly were eliminated by bottom of the table Aironi in their final Magners League regular season match last Friday in Viadana. The Welsh side, after coming from behind, won the match 12-10 with a late penalty to Welsh international James Hook. The Ospreys´ in fact scored no tries in the match as the teams remaining nine points came from the boot of Dan Biggar. The games only try was scored by Aironi who had two Argentine players in the starting XV in the form of  Horacio San Martín and Gabriel Pizarro. For his part Argentine born Italian international scrumhalf, Pablo Canavosio played the final 8 minutes for the home, side.

Welsh side the Newport Gwent Dragons hosted third placed Ulster and had another trademark game in that the Welsh side pushed a power close but was unable to succeed in winning the match. Ulster´s 20-13 win was not enough to secure a home semi-final but means Ulster will face Leinster rather than Munster in the play-off´s. Munster hosted fellow Irish province, Connacht and secured a 22-6 victory which gives the Irish powerhouses a record of 19 wins and 3 loses in the 2010-2011 Magners League. USA born Irish international flyhalf, Ronan O´Gara started at flyhalf for Munster and kicked seven points. Second placed Leinster impressed with a big 38-3 victory over Scottish side, the Glasgow Warriors, in Dublin. Former Argentine international back, Federico Martin Aramburu, played on the right wing for Glasgow and Canadian international centre, DTH van der Merwe played on the left wing. Canadian test prop, Kevin Tkachuk was on the bench.

The rounds other two matches involved teams with nothing to play for as all four teams had no chance of making the final four. Nonetheless, all four teams had a lot to play for as it is Rugby World Cup year and all teams have players who will feature at New Zealand 2011. The all-Wales battle of the Scarlets vs the Cardiff Blues saw the home side impress as they notched up a 38-23 victory, winning four tries to two. Scottish international, Sean Lamont bagged a brace. Lastly, Italian side, Benetton Treviso ended their debut season on a high after defeated Scottish side, Edinburgh 31-6. The Italian side appear to be a team for the future after knocking over traditional powers from Ireland, Scotland and Wales. Friday´s win over Edinburgh featured two Argentine players in the starting XV as Azzuri internationals Ignacio Fernández Rouyet and Gonzalo García were both in the run on side. Edinburgh´s points game from the boot of Chris Paterson while former Argentyine international secondrower Esteban Lozada did not feature in the match.

Final Standings

1 Munster 83

2 Leinster 70
3 Ulster 67
4 Ospreys 63
5 Scarlets 62
6 Cardiff Blues 60
7 Newport Gwent Dragons 49
8 Edinburgh 43
9 Connacht 39
10 Benetton Treviso 38 
11 Glasgow 33 
12 Aironi 12

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