Monday, January 23, 2012

Heineken Cup Round 6 Wrap

USA Eagle, Taku Ngwenya scored three tries for Biarritz
The final round of pool play in this seasons Heineken Cup produced some surprizing results but in general it was too late to have a notable impact as many of the upsets had no impact on who would advance to the Quarter Finals. In Friday alone both matches saw the favorites defeated with the under-dogs both pulling off nothing less than coup d´etat´s as both Toulouse and the Harlequins lost. Bath´s win vs the Glasgow Warriors was too late in the tournament to have an impact. Biarritz demolished the Ospreys with Taku Ngwenya running wild as the USA Eagle was the player of the round. Despite scoring a hat-trick and seeing Biarritz win with a bonus point the French side were left to suffer from their unthinkable loss to Benetton Treviso as they missed out on a Quarter Finals place by virtue of that result. The round again had a number of players from the America in action as come 2019 the only region to never have hosted a Rugby World Cup continues to have extremely talented players from Argentina, Canada, Uruguay and the USA competed in Europe´s top club competition.

Gloucester 34-24 Toulouse
In what was possibly the shock of the season, Gloucester completed a great win in what was a highly entertaining encounter. Gloucester not only won but scored a bonus point. Too little too late. The English side had been struggling in the group and looked like losing their final match as Toulouse went into halftime with a 17-14 lead. The inability of Lionel Beauxis as a play-maker was highly evident as Toulouse´s star-studded backline was again underused. Patricio Albacete played the full 80 minutes in the secondrow. Nicolás Vergallo did not play however and may well be opting for an early exit on his long term contract to link up with rivals, Agen.

Connacht 9-8 Harlequins
The key in matches being played simultaneously is that sides are unaware of exactly how they need to play to get the desires result. The Harleuins felt this in Friday´s other match as the top placed Aviva Premiership side fell to the lowly Connacht in Galway. Had the Quins won they would have finished above Toulouse to win the group. Instead they handed the likes of Biarritz, Clermont, Edinburgh, the Cardiff Blues and the Ospreys far easier routes to the Quarter Finals. Tomás Vallejos Cinalli started for the Quins in the secondrow while inside back, Benjamin Urdapilleta was not selected.

Leinster 25-3 Montpellier
The home side was far too strong for Montpellier as a number of Irish internationals impressed with Sean O´Brian and Fergus McFadden showing why they have so much to over for Rugby World Cup 2015. Montpellier´s only points came from a secondhalf penalty to Argentine winger, Martín Bustos Moyano. He was joined in the starting lineup by Agustín Creevy at hooker and Lucas González Amorosino was named at fullback but missed the game due to a minor injury. Pumas centre, Santiago Fernández was on the bench as were two young props in the returning Juan Figallo and the yet to be capped Maximilano Bustos.

Clermont 19-15 Ulster
A tense match in central France went down to the wire with Clermont being able to defend in the final two minutes to claim a vital victory. It means both sides acvance to the Quarter Finals. Canadian forward, Jamie Cudmore played the final thirteen minutes for Clermont.

Bath 23-18 Glasgow Warriors
English side, Bath won a thrilling contest in what was a dead rubber as neither side could advance regardless of the result. One of Glasgow´s two tries was scored by the USA´s Tommy Seymour. Neither Argentina´s Federico Martín Aramburu nor Canada´s DTH van der Merwe featured as they both continue to recover from injury. While USA hooker, Chris Biller was left out of the olineup by Bath.

Castres 13-16 Scarlets
Former Welsh international flyhalf Stephen Jones kicked a late penalty to win the match for the visitors. The resul means the Scarlets will compete in the Quarter Finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup as one of the best second placed sides from the group phase who missed ouf on qualification for the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega played the full 80 minutes for Castres.
Leicester Tigers 33-6 Aironi
With Clermont´s victory, the Tigers were eliminated regardless of the result vs the Italian visitors. The English sides bonus point win was thus nothing more than a training run against a weakened Aironi. Horacio Agulla started on the right wing and Marcos Ayerza at loosehead prop with Agulla playing the full match and Ayerza being replaced eight minutes from full time. The Argentine-Italian, Martín Castrogiovanni started with Ayerza and played until the fifty-second minute. Gabriel Pizarro started for Aironi.

Northampton Saints 36-51 Munster
Munster´s Simon Zebo scored an amazing three second half tries in the rounds highest points-scoring match. USA born Irish flyhalf, Ronan O´Gara scored 24 points for Munster as the side´s big win means it qualifies in first position and will have the luxury of hosting the eighth ranked qualifying team at Limerick´s Thomond Park in the Quarter Finals. The loss means the Saints miss out on an Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter Finals place. The USA´s Samu Manoa played the full 80 minutes in the second row and continues to impress with his solid tackling.

Benetton Treviso 20-16 Saracens
Saracens finished top of the group with a closer than expected win over the Italian side in Treviso. The match featured Argentine-Italian prop Carlos Nieto in the starting XV for the English side and the USA´s Chris Wyles on the bench. Wyles came on the play the final 30 minutes. Gonzalo Padro and Alberto Di Bernardo were both replacements for Benetton Treviso. One of the home teams tries was scored by Canada´s Robert Barbieri who will be on the field in the coming weeks for Italy in the Six Nations.

Biarritz 36-5 Ospreys
The Basque´s impressive win was in vain after the team was forced to learn a valuable lesson from their failuer in Italy vs Benetton Treviso. Taku Ngwenya´s hattrick looked good enough to have gotten the team into the Quarter Finals but with both Edinburgh and the Cardiff Blues winning Biarritz were eliminated from the Heineken Cup. The American was joined in the starting lineup by Manuel Carizza who played 60 minutes in the secondrow. Marcelo Bosch came off the bench in only the 9th minute to play the remaining 71 minutes while Eusebio Guinazu and Francisco Gomez Kodela both entered early in the secondhalf.

Cardiff Blues 36-30 Racing Métro
The Blues won a tight match to book a Quarter Finals place. Racing fielded an understrength side with a number of fringe players starting the match. Juan Imhoff was on the bench but tntered early on in place of the injured Jonathan Wisniewski.  Juan Orlandi was also on the bench with the prop coming on to play the final quarter of the match. Juan Martín Hernández missed the match through injury.

Edinburgh 34-11 London Irish
The unthinkable happened with Edinburgh now set to host a Heineken Cup Quarter Final with Murrayfield the setting for Edinburgh vs Toulouse. The Scot´s thumping win over London Irish featured four tries and former Pumas secondrower, Esteban Lozada was involved as he played the final 8 minutes from the bench. Canada´s Jebb Sinclair was unavaliable for the Exiles as he continues to recover from a thumb injury.

Final Standings

Group 1
1 Munster 25
2 Northampton Saints 15
3 Scarlets 12
4 Castres 7

Group 2
1 Edinburgh 22
2 Cardiff Blues 21
3 London Irish 9
4 Racing Metro 8

Group 3
1 Leinster 24
2 Glasgow Warriors 12
3 Bath 11
4 Montpellier 10

Group 4
1 Clermont Auvergne 20
2 Ulster 20
3 Leicester Tigers 17
4 Aironi 0

Group 5
1 Saracens 22
2 Biarritz 18
3 Ospreys 13
4 Benetton Treviso 7

Group 6
1 Toulouse 18
2 Harlequins 17
3 Gloucester 15
4 Connacht 6

Gloucester vs Toulouse

Leinster vs Montpellier

Clermont vs Ulster

ASM-Ulster : Le résumé por asm

Benetton Treviso vs Saracens

Biarritz vs Ospreys

Cardiff Blues vs Racing Métro


  1. Vallejos had a poor match, poor ball carrying and conceded penalties as well

    Manoa put in several big hits

    shame Padro isn't Argentine, he looks a versatile forward who would be useful from the bench

    Vergallo could join Agen next season

    1. Good news for Lozada, Galarza and the other players emerging in Los Pampas XV.

      Vergallo to Agen. Certainly much more game time and thus probably the right thing to do.