Monday, February 27, 2012

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Wrap - Round 16

Aramburu returned for Glasgow
The sixteenth round of the Celtic-Italian League, known as the Rabo Direct Pro 12 for sponsorship reasons, was played this past weekend, starting on Thursday. While the Top 14 Orange had a break, the RaboDirect Pro 12 had a a full round of six matches. Teams were missing players, some more so than others. It worked out well for Connacht who won vs Edinburgh. In general the stronger sides were severely depleted but not entirely. Bottom placed Aironi were robbed of a victory by a last minute try. Players from the Americas were in action, again illustrating how much of a contribution the region is making to global rugby. 

Scarlets 34-20 Benetton Treviso
Welsh region the Scarlets started the sixteenth round of the competition with a home in in Llanelli that helps the teams chances. Benetton Treviso´s great early season form has deserted the team as it continues to slide down the standings. The Italian side had a number of Argentine players in action with Ignacio Fernández Rouyet, Franco Sbaraglini, Pedro Di Santo and Gonzalo Padro all starting. They were joined by three others with Augusto Allori, Diego Vidal and Gonzalo García all coming into the match from the bench..

Ulster  15-14 Ospreys
The Northern Irish side´s win put the team on the verge of the Semi Final´s zone. The Ospreys, meanwhile, still lie in second place but now only lead Munster by a single point. USA age grade representaitive, Hanno Dirksen started agains for the Welsh region  on the right wing. Canada´s Chauncey O´Toole did not feature however and was in fact in Canada. 

Munster 16-13 Cardiff Blues
A match greatly influenced by players missing to Six Nations duty  saw Munster maintina its strong run to moev to within one point of the Ospreys. The Blues, in contrast, fall behind the Scarlets but have little danger of dropping further due to the twelve point gap that separates Cardiff from Treviso.

Connacht 26-13 Edinburgh
Friday saw an Irish triple as Connacht defeated Edinburgh to end its miserable run of losses. Edinburgh´s embarrassing defeat means it now faces the unlikely but real possibility of getting the wooden spoon. The same team has qualified for the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals and will host Toulouse. Two Argentine players features for the Scottish side in Friday´s match with frontrower Ulises Gamboa coming on in the 56th minute secondrower and Esteban Lozada in the 73rd.

Glasgow Warriors 10-10 Leinster
Competition leaders, Leinster, failed to deliver in Scotland on Saturday as a team missing many players to international duty played against the fourth palced Glasgow Warriors. The Scottish side was also missing players but, seemingly, it not have the same kind of impact. The drawn match means neither side changes its position in the standings. Former Pumas winger, Federico Martín Aramburu made his return from injury for the Scottish side as a replacement in the 63rd minute. Canada´s DTH van der Merwe is yet to play for the club all season due to shoulder surgery.

Aironi 9-10 Newport Gwent Dragons
Italian side Aironi were very unlucky to lose at home to the Dragons on Sunday. The Italian side had been in firm control of the match until conceeding a try with one minute remaining in the match. The try was decisive and gave the Dragons a rare away victory. As such, the Welsh region moves up the ladder and now occupies 9th position. The Italian side had two Argentine players in its starting lineup with Matias Aguero playing loosehead prop and Gabriel Pizarro playing inside centre.

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Standings

1 Leinster 59
2 Ospreys 48

3 Munster 47
4 Glasgow Warriors 43 
5 Ulster 41
6 Cardiff Blues 40
7 Scarlets 40
8 Benetton Treviso 28
9 Newport-Gwent Dragons 25
10 Connacht 24
11 Edinburgh 23
12 Aironi 15

* Currently inline for a place in the Semi Finals.

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