Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Rabo Direct Pro 12 : Round 13 Wrap

Esteban Lozada playing for Toulon
Round thirteen of the Celtic-Italian league, the Rabo Direct Pro 12 took place from Friday-Sunday and produced a number of unpredictable results with the two bottom of the table sides both winning to send a warning to Scottish side, Edinburgh who may not be safe from the wooden spoon afterall. The team had a good early start to the season and has impressed on the European stage in the early rounds of this seasons Heineken Cup. It will need to notch up some Rabo Direct Pro 12 wins soon, however as the team could see itself caught by the bottom placed sides from Ireland, Wales and Italy. Round 12 featured players who have played age grade or international level rugby for either Argentina or the United States of America. 

Edinburgh 20-42 Ulster
The Scottish capital´s rugby team were badly defeated and, indeed, embarrassed at Murrayfield as Irish province, Ulster  completed an impressive bonus point victory to move two places up the standings. Ulster´s win came with 16 points from the boot of South Africa´s Ruan Piennar, a player vital to the teams chances of success. Curiously he may well be unable to continue following Ireland´s decision to drastically limit the number of imports playing for the tour Irish teams. Former Pumas secondrower, Esteban Lozada played the full 80 minutes for Edinburgh and remains an outside chance to return to the international stage in June.

Newport-Gwent Dragons 21-20 Ospreys
The Dragons claimed a big scalp in surprizing the fancied Ospreys to claim a one point victory at Rodney Parade on Friday. The resilt keeps the Dragons three points clear of the bottom placed Aironi and draws the team equal with Connacht. While Edinburgh are only five poitns ahead. 20 year old former USA age grade player, Hanno Dirksen started on the wing for the Ospreys but Canada´s Chauncey O´Toole did not feature as the club continues to seriously under use him. He is likely to get much more game time following the completion of the Heineken Cup pool matches as the Ospreys will be missing players to Six Nations duty.

Cardiff Blues 19-23 Leinster
A four point win in Cardiff in conjunction with the Ospreys´ loss to the Newport-Gwent Dragons means that Leinster sie comfortably in the lead, nine points clear. It also means that the Cardiff Blues´ chances of making the play-off´s have become a little more complicated as they slip a full win behind the fourth placed Glasgow Warriors.

Aironi 20-6 Connacht
Italian side Aironi are the competitions hot favorites for the wooden spoon but the clubs third win of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 season sees the club sit only three points behind both the Newport-Gwent Dragons and Connacht. The victory came with a second match winning performance in recent weeks from Córdoba´s Luciano Orquera with the Argentine born Italian international kicking five penalties to score fifteen of Aironi´s twenty points. He was joined in the starting lineup by another Argentine player with Gabriel Pizarro playing inside centre.

Scarlets 16-14 Glasgow Warriors
The Warriors are now only one point away from dropping outside of the top four following the sides  narrow loss in Llanelli. Former Pumas winger, Federico Martin Aramburu missed the match due to injury. He will be joined on the sidelines by Scotland flyhalf Ruardih Jackson who looks set to miss the Six Nations. A potential USA Eagle for Rugby World Cup 2015, Tommy Seymour, started for Glasgow.

Munster 29-11 Benetton Treviso
The Irish powerhouses bonus point victory sees the province narrow the gap between second and third to just a single point following the Ospreys´ surprizing loss on Friday. USA born Irish international flyhalf, Ronan O´Gara kicked nine points for Munster. Benetton Treviso had five Argentine players for the match with Franco Sbaraglini and Gonzalo Padro both starting the match while Ignacio Fernández Rouyet, Alberto Di Bernardo and Diego Vidal all came off the bench. A number of them could well join Luciano Orquera in Italy´s Six Nations squad.

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Standings

1 Leinster 48
2 Ospreys 39
3 Munster 38
4 Glasgow Warriors 35
5 Scarlets 34
6 Ulster 31
7 Cardiff Blues 31
8 Benetton Treviso 28
9 Edinburgh 22
10 Connacht 17 
11 Newport-Gwent Dragons 17
12 Aironi 14

                                                      Munster vs Benetton Treviso

                                 Cardiff Blues vs Leinster

                                                Aironi vs Connacht

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