Sunday, February 19, 2012

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Wrap - Round 15

Zimbio: Gonzalo Padro
The Fifteenth round of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 was played on Friday and Saturday in Wales, Ireland and Italy. It was a good round for the Welsh sides with three of the four winning, including the weakest side with the Newport-Gwent Dragons completing an impressive home win over Edinburgh. The competition continues to be dominated by Irish sides with Leinster well ahead of the rest in first place and Munster in third place. Both sides won this weekend. The Ospreys stay in second after defeating Aironi while the second Italian side remains in eighth position but has not had good results recently. Four of the rounds six matches featured players from the Americas with both Argentina and the USA being represented.

Cardiff Blues 21-14 Ulster
A home win at Cardiff City Stadium sees the Blues overtake Ulster and move ever closer to secruing a spot on the top four. Only two points now prevent the Cardiff Blues from being in the top four. With both sides to feature in the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals they´ll need to be careful not to overuse players.

Ospreys 23-7 Aironi
The Swansea based side found Aironi to be tougher opposition than expected as the Italians conceeded only two tries and one of which was a penalty try. Former USA age grade player, Hanno Dirksen played on the right wing for the Ospreys. Aironi had two Argentine players in its starting lineup with Gabriel Pizarro playing at inside centre and Matías Agüero playing in the frontrow. Aironi remain at the bottom of the Celtic-Italian League and are heavy favorites for the Wooden Spoon but, nonetheless, the team is doing exactly what its intended to do - better prepare players for international duty in Italian colors.

Leinster 16-13 Scarlets
Competition leaders, Leinster had a hard match at the Royal Dublin Society but held firm to claim the win after Fergus McFadden slotted two secondhalf penalties to close out the match. The result means the Scarlets are six points outside of the play-off´s zone.

Benetton Treviso 14-35 Munster
The Stadio Comunale di Monigo did not have its best game of the season as Benetton Treviso were well beaten by Irish powerhouses, Munster. USA born Irish international flyhalf, Ronan O´Gara had a good afternoon as he kicked three penalties and three conversions The Italian side featured two Argentine players in its starting lineup with Franco Sbaraglini starting at hooker and Pedro di Santo starting at tighthead prop. Benetton Treviso also had five Argentine players on its replacements bench with Augusto Allori playing the final nine minutes in the frontrow, Ignacio Fernández Rouyet coming on in the frontrow in the 52nd minute, backrower Gonzalo Padro in the 33rd minute and centre Gonzalo García in the 56th minute. Alberto de Bernardo was also on the bench but was unused. 
Connacht 13-13 Glasgow Warriors
The Glasgow Warriors let a golden opportunity slide as the Scottish side could have secured itself in the top four with more than a full time in hand. Ireland´s weakest province had other ideas, however as Connacht slotted a penalty goal on fulltime to secure a draw at the Galway Sportsground. The USA´s Tommy Seymour played on the right wing for Glasgow. Argentina´s Federico Martín Aramburu did not play nor did Canada´s DTH van der Merwe who is yet to lpay since injurying himself at the World Cup.

Newport-Gwent Dragons 21-10 Edinburgh
Fans at Rodney Parade celebrated in what was probably the Dragons´ best win of the season as the home sides two tries to one victory moves the side up one place on the ladder and clear of any danger of being bottom of the table. Edinburgh are to host a Heineken Cup Quarter Final, vs French powerhouses, Toulouse - the most successful team in the history of the Heineken Cup. The teams form in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 has not been so inspiring as the Scottish side have no chances of qualifying for the play-off´s and are now only two points ahead of the Dragons and nine ahead of Aironi. Uncapped Argentine prop, Ulisses Gamboa came off the bench for Edinburgh in the 55th minute. Argentine secondrower, Esteban Lozada did not recieve game time.

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Standings

1 Leinster 57
2 Ospreys 47
3 Munster 43
4 Glasgow Warriors 41
5 Cardiff Blues 39
6 Ulster 37
7 Scarlets 35
8 Benetton Treviso 28
9 Edinburgh 23
10 Newport-Gwent Dragons 21
11 Connacht 20
12 Aironi 14

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