Monday, January 23, 2012

Amlin Challenge Cup Round 6 Wrap

Agustín Figuerola
Sale 9-19 Brive
Sale suffered a home loss to struggling Top 14 side Brive which knocked them out. In very wet conditions, Sale came off worse against a strong Brive pack and were lucky to get their penalties from dodgy refereeing. Brive were deserved winners. Agustín Figuerola started for Brive and had a decent match without being outstanding, he was comically told off by the referee for appealing for penalties whilst clearly having no clue what the referee was saying. Referee's ignorance of other nation's languages is a annoyance of mine, and I wish they would make more of an effort to speak at least one other language. How many times is there a match between two English teams with a referee speaking French, yet it happens the other way round all the time. Joaquín Tuculet also started for Sale but it wasn't a day for wingers, Pablo Cardinali and Pablo Henn came off the bench for Brive but made little impact.

Agen 62-7 La Vila
La Vila who are currently fifth and 19 points form the Spanish league leaders U.E. Santboiana, tasted what is probably going to be their last bit of European action for a while. They were again thrashed by a weakened Agen, although Agen actually played a slightly strongers side than the one which was thumped by Brive last week. Argentines Marcos Poggi and Nicolás Martínez started for La Vila, whilst Chilean Juan Pablo Vasquez and Ecudorian Miguel Angel Coronel Densy came off the bench. For Agen Miguel Avramovic started and scored a try for his team. La Vila scored 64 points and conceded 325 this campaign, which is a static improvement from past Spanish sides efforts although La Vila didn't have an Italian side to play which would have boosted those stats.

Crociati 13-26 Bucharest Wolves
Crociati finished off their campaign winless as the Bucharest Wolves comfortably defeated them. Crociati, despite having former Italy former Italy hooker Carlo Festuccia, in their side as well as fly half Luca Morisi who was called up to the Italy squad, they have only won 1 match all season, and lie rock bottom of the Italian league. Regardless the result what was most worrying about this match was an attendance of just 250, this despite ticket sales apparently going really well for the Italy matches at the 72,000 Stadio Olympico. Surely this figure, should throw into doubt the future of having four Italian sides in the tournament, to make way to sides from Russia, Georgia and Portugal.

Exeter 31-14 Perpignan
This result, played in front of nearly 8000, shows how far the two sides have come in the last two seasons, one of them forwards the other backwards. It wasn't that long ago Exeter were in the Championship and Perpignan were French champions. Perpignan were winning 14-0 in this match but blew the lead as poor discipline and two yellow cards allowed Exeter back into the match and eventually ran away with it. Gonzalo Camacho and Ignacio Mieres both started for Exeter, the latter scoring 14 points.

Lyon 21-13 Newcastle
Newcastle's new coaching regime couldn't help the bottom side of the Premiership Newcastle defeat the bottom side of the Top 14 Lyon. Perhaps this result could help build confidence for Lyon to fight out of the relegation zone. This was the closest match of the round.

Dragons 45-16 Cavalieri Prato
The Dragons had no problems in defeating Italian league leaders Cavalieri Prato. The Dragons were 33-6 up at half time but Prato managed to hold them to below 50.

Petrarca Padova 6-50 Toulon
Toulon thumped Padova to book their place in the quarter finals as group winners and a home draw. They will be a difficult force for any Heineken Cup team to face. Argentine Miguel Alonso started at prop for Padova whilst Juan Pablo Sánchez came off the bench.

Stade Français 33-10 Worcester
Stade got a surpisingly easy five try victory over Worcester at home, to get themselves top seed and a home draw for the quarter finals. Rodrigo Roncero came off the bench for Stade.

Wasps 36-13 Bordeaux-Bègles
Wasps easily beat a severely weakened Bordeaux-Bègles at home. Rafael Carballo came off the bench for Bordeaux.

Bayonne 92-6 Rovigo
Bayonne who played their strongest side for this match, annihilated Rovigo scoring 13 tries. If a crowd of 250 wasn't enough to convince you that 4 Italian sides is too much then look at this result, even Bayonne's disappointing signing Joe Rokocoko scored his second try for Bayonne (the first also against Rovigo). Argentine German Bustos played 10 and scored all of Rovigo's points.

Quarter Final draw:
Stade Français v Exeter
Brive v Scarlets
Toulon v Harlequins
Wasps v Biarritz

Semi Final draw:
Toulon or Harlequins v Stade Français or Exeter
Wasps or Biarritz v Brive or Scarlets

Final to be played at the Twickenham Stoop

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