Monday, April 9, 2012

Heineken Cup - Quarter Finals Wrap

Edinburgh 19-14 Toulouse
Patricio Albacete
A record breaking crowd and an unlikely victory at Murrayfield as the favorites, Toulouse were unable to play any rugby due, in large part, to the selection of Lionel Beauxis in the pivotal position of flyhalf. The former Stade Français flyhalf made a mess of things while being the leading number 10 for the Parisians and since he left the club it has been playing a significantly better brand of rugby and winning much more matches with Felipe Contepomi replacing him in the position. France´s recent Six Nations performances were hardly impressive with Beauxis unable to create opportunities for the backline after he was selected at flyhalf over François Trinh-Duc. Edinburgh have been struggling to win a match in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 and if the competition was the same as the Top 14 Orange then the Scottish team would have no chance of playing in the 2012-2013 Heineken Cup. The team which defeated Toulouse, nonetheless, was packed with stars and was close to being the Scottish international team with the likes of Ross Rennie, David Denton, Ross Ford, Geoff Cross, Allan Jacobson, Mike Blair, Greig Laidlaw, Nick de Luca and Lee Jones all in the team. Tim Visser was in the team too with the Dutch winger certain to debut for Scotland this June with the Scot´s touring Australia, Fiji and Samoa. Edinburgh´s Argentine players did not feature while Patricio Albacete played the full 80 minutes in Toulouse´s secondrow. Edinburgh will play a Semi Final at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin.

Leinster 34-3 Cardiff Blues
The second Quarter Final was over by the 30 minute mark as Leinster dealt with Welsh region, the Cardiff Blues easily in front of a near fullhouse at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin. Despite being known as the Blues the side was in fact playing in a pink strip. The teams downfall was its lack of response time to Leinster´s counterattack and the lack of creation with Scottish international Dan Parks kicking away too much ball. His opposite, Jonny Sexton had a solid match in creating opportunities for his backs. The return of Brian O´Driscoll to Heineken Cup rugby was a success and he scored one of Leinster´s four tries. Leinster´s reward for winning is a Heineken Cup Semi Final match in France. Cardiff are set to lose a number of players who are to take up offers from other clubs. As such the teams chances of playing in the Quarter Finals next season are remote. 

Munster 16-22 Ulster
USA Born Ronan O´Gara
History was made in Limerick as for the first time in history Munster lost a Quarter Finals match at Thomond Park. Ulster´s victory was set up from the get go as the Northern Irish province went to a 19-0 lead after only 31 minutes. From there it was just a case of playing out the remainder of the match and this is, indeed, what Ulster did. When Munster finally started to play rugby it was too late. The USA born Irish international flyhalf Ronan O´Gara played at 10 for the hosts while fellow USA born player, Callum Black was left out of the team for Ulster. Having both provinces plus Leinster in the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals appears to suggest that Irish rugby is strong at the moment and that the recent Six Nations performances will not be repeated. The worrying thing for Ireland, however, is that Munster has dropped away from where it was several years ago and Ulster´s return to the Heineken Cup knock-out stages comes due in no small part to its imported players, particularly South Africans. Munster also fielded its share of imports in the loss vs Ulster.

Saracens 3-22 Clermont Auvergne
Canadian Jamie Cudmore
The contribution of the Americas to the global game featured in the final quarter final with Canada´s Jamie Cudmore starting in the secondrow for the French side. USA Eagles fullback, Chris Wyles started for Saracens on the left wing and the teams Argentine-Italian prop, Carlos Nieto was on the bench. Cudmore played 58 minutes, Nieto entered for the final 12 minutes and Wyles played the fullmatch. The Clermont hero was Australian Brock James who contributed 17 points with the games only try being scored by Wales´ Lee Byrne for the central French side. James had not been in the starting lineup but replaced former French international, David Skrela in only the 3rd minute of play. The result is a kick in the face to the tournamewnt organizers who have arranged for Twickenham to host the Heineken Cup Final but there will be no English teams even in the Semi Finals. Clermont will have the luxury of playing its Semi Final in France but it will not be a home encounter, ratrher the match will take place in Bordeaux. It will be Clermont vs Leinster.

Edinburgh vs Toulouse (Toulouse Try)

Leinster vs Cardiff Blues

Munster vs Ulster

Saracens vs Clermont

1 comment:

  1. Clermont are currently on a 40 match winning streak at home

    I wonder whether this coming match at Bordeaux will end it