Monday, April 23, 2012

Rabo Direct Pro 12 - Round 21 Wrap

van der Merwe returns to secure victory for Glasgow.

Ospreys 31-12 Newport Gwent Dragons
The Ospreys secured a home Semi Final with a comfortable victory over Welsh rivals, the Dragons in Swansea. The four tries to zero win included two penalty tries with the Dragons being unable to score a try at all. The Ospreys will take on the third ranked team in a home Semi Final, with the match probably being against Munster. A USA age grade player is likely to feature for the Welsh region in the match as Hanno Dirksen continues his run in the 14 shirt. 

Ulster 8-16 Leinster
The all-Irish clash of the weekend has likely ended Ulster´s chances of a Semi Finals appearance as the Northern Irish province was unable to collect any competition points from the eight point loss. Both Leinster and Ulster will play in next weekends Heineken Cup Semi Finals and it is the European competition that has the interested of the Irish as the clubs field significantly weaker sides for matches in the Rabo Direct Pro 12. The USA´s Callum Black did not feature for Ulster. Leinster will host the fourth ranked team in a Semi Final. The probable opponent is the Glasgow Warriors. 

Connacht 19-16 Aironi
A heart-breaking loss for the Italians in Galway as a late try by the Irish province gave Connacht the victory and confirmed Aironi as the wooden spooners for the second time in a row. The Italian franchise now has one final match before being dismantled and replaced by a differnt Italian side in next seasons Rabo Direct Pro 12 and Heineken Cup competitions. The new teams remains unknown but has been rumoured to be based in Rome. Argentine-Italian flyhalf, Luciano Orquera put in a good showing, kicking eleven points for Aironi. A second Argentine player started with Matías Aguerio playing in the frontrow.

Scarlets 20-20 Munster
Welsh region the Scarlets completed an unlikely draw in Llanelli to keep its faint chances of a play-offs appearance alive. Both teams scored two tries each but Munster really ought to have won this match as the Irish province was leading 20-10 after 55 minutes of play. Both teams face difficult final round matches with the Scarlets taking on the Cariff Blues in a must win contest and Munster facing Ulster.

Cardiff Blues 38-13 Edinburgh
While the Celtic-Italian League will account for three of the four teams in the Heineken Cup Semi Finals, the rugby would not appear to be of a better quality than that shown by the leading teams in the Aviva Premiership or the Top 14 Orange. With the competition having no relegation teams have no reason to field their stars and in many cases the league functions as match practice for the Heineken Cup. Edinburgh will take on Ulster in a Heineken Cup Semi Final despite sitting in tenth place in the Rabo Direct Pro 12. the team was badly beaten by Welsh region, the Cardiff Blues as it fielded a team vastly different from that which will compete next weekend. Neither of Edinburgh´s Argentine players recieved game time vs the  Cardiff Blues. 

Benetton Treviso 8-13 Glasgow Warriors
A late win in Italy seems to have confirmed the Glasgow Warriors place in the Semi Finals. A miracle of some kind is required now to remove the Warriors from the Final Four as the Scottish club has four point points than the Scarlets and five more than Ulster. For either side to go ahead of Glasgow they need to win with a bonus point and need the Warriors to lose its final match of the regular season. The possibility of this ahppeneing is low considering the Glasgow will play host to Connacht. Glasgow´s victory in Treviso  came thanks to a late try and it was a player from the Americas doing the business as the returning Canadian, DTH van der Merwe went over for the 77th minute try. He had come on from the bench in the 60th minute. His try was a great solo effort scored from a 40 metre run. The USA also had a player on the field for the Scot´s with Tommy Seymour starting on the right wing. Argentina´s Federico Martín Aramburu did not feature however. Treviso fielded Canadian-Italian Robert Barbieri in the backrow, he started at 8. Argentina´s Ignacio Fernández Rouyet also played for Treviso as a replacement late in the match. Flyhalf Alberto di bernardo was unused from the bench.

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Standings
1 Leinster 77
2 Ospreys 67 
3 Munster 62 
4 Glasgow 61
5 Scarlets 57
6 Ulster 56
7 Cardiff 50
8 Connacht 37
9 Treviso 36
10 Dragons 35
11 Edinburgh 27
12 Aironi 20

* Semi Finals placings

Ulster vs Leinster

Benetton Treviso vs Glasgow Warriors

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