Monday, December 26, 2011

Rabo Direct Pro 12 : Round 11 Wrap

Luciano Orquera
The eleventh round of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 took place over the extended weekend with two matches being played on Friday and the remaining four matches all being played earlier today. The round was set up so that every match was a derby featuring two sides from the same country. The round featured a number of players from the Americas with the most notable player - probably the best of the round being Luciano Orquera from Córdoba who plays his test rugby for Italy rather than Argentina. Orquera saw Aironi win its second match of the season to close the gap between itself and the Newport-Gwent Dragons to two championship points. Should Aironi win and the Dragons lose next round then Aironi will be off the bottom of the table.

Aironi 27-13 Benetton Treviso
Aironi´s players were able to have a great christmas dinner after they completed an impressive win over Italian rivals at Viadana. Luciano Orquera kicked nine penalty goals to score every point for Aironi as the up and down Italian international flyhalf had one of his better matches of the season. Orquera formed an Argentine 10-12 combination with Gabriel Pizarro playing inside centre. Both players lasted the full 80 minutes. Rosario´s Alberto di Bernardo was a replacement for Benetton Treviso and slotted a conversion after he came on to play the final 21 minutes. Three other Argentine players features for the visitors with  Diego Vidal starting at hooker and Ignacio Fernandez-Rouyet at tighthead prop while Gonzalo Padro came off the bench in the first half.

Cardiff Blues 28-9 Newport-Gwent Dragons
Despite resting a number of regular first choice players the Cardiff Blues were able to also pick up a comfortable victory on Friday. With Dan Parks being rested  Leigh Halfpenny took over the goalkicking and impressed with three penalties and two conversions. The Blues´ three tries were scored by winger Alex Cuthbert (who scored a double) and secondrower, Bradley Davies. Gavin Henson made his long-awaited debut for the Welsh region, playing fullback.

Scarlets 22-14 Ospreys
The Llanelli side pulled off an upset with Welsh flyhalf Rhys Priestland again underliining his superiority to the Ospreys´ Dan Biggar. USA age grade flyhalf, Hanno Dirksen played the final 9 minutes for the Ospreys on the wing. Canada´s Chauncey O´Toole did not feature for the Ospreys.

Leinster 42-23 Ulster
Leinster ran out easy winners in picking up a bonus point victory and as such the Irish province stays top of the table. The loss means Ulster are now well off the pace and have been caught by Edinburgh.

Edinburgh 23-23 Glasgow
It was looking like being a good win at Murrayfield for Edinburgh and it would have seen the club climb the rankings but the Glasgow Warriors fought back from a ten point deficit to score two tries in the final quarter. Former Pumas secondrower, Esteban Lozada played the secondhalf for Edinburgh while Federico Martín Aramburu did not feature for the Warriors. He is likely to be back permanently on the wing after the new arrival from Toulon, Rory Lamont was stretchered off. Canada´s DTH van der Merwe is only going to be avaliable in the final stages of the season.
Munster 24-9 Connacht
The home side had few troubles in defeating Connacht and with it Munster is within one point of the second placed Ospreys. It was the final match in the illustrious career of former Irish tighthead prop, John Hayes. The 38 year old played 105 international matches for Ireland and two for the British and Irish Lions. Hayes was replaced in the 59th minute. Thanks John - Argentina 2023 salutes you!
Standings
1 Leinster 40
2 Ospreys 34
3 Munster 33
4 Glasgow Warriors 30
5 Cardiff 29 
6 Scarlets 26
7 Benetton Treviso 23 
8 Ulster 21
9 Edinburgh 21 
10 Connacht 16 
11 Newport-Gwent Dragons 12
12 Aironi 10 

                                        Aironi vs Benetton Treviso

                                     Leinster vs Ulster

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