Monday, October 22, 2012

Heineken Cup - Round 2 Wrap

After two rounds of the Heineken Cup there are already a number of teams who stand little to no chance  of winning their Pool. These sides can be seen as already having been eliminated despite having plenty of more matches left to play. Two wins in the first two rounds makes it incredibly difficult to recover and history shows that it is infact decisive. With the top side from each pool and the two best second places sides advancing to the Quarter Finals it is paramount to win at least four of the six matches. So far the better performing sides are from England, France and Ireland with teams from Italy, Scotland and Wales not looking too likely to feature in the play-off´s at this point in time. Round two saw the return of many Pumas players after last week was a rest for the majority after they had played in The Rugby Championship. There were also players from Canada and the United States of America representing the Americas. 

Pool 1 
Saracens 30-13 Racing Métro
London based side Saracens look to be the favorites to win this pool after performing well in its first two matches. This pool, however will go down to the wire with it still having three sides who can make the Quarter Finals. Only the winner is likely to advance and it will be tough for all sides to win away from home. Racing Métro lost badly in London but will bounce back and be is likely to win both its games against Edinburgh in round three and four. The match saw trryscores from the USA and Argentina with Chris Wyles scoring the first of the match and Juan Imhoff scoring Racing Métro´s only try. Both players started the match on wing while Juan Martín Hernández started at fullback. Imhof´s try cvame from a move creates by Hernández. A third Puma also featured in the match with prop Juan Pablo Orlandi coming on from the bench. Former English international Olly Barkely started at flyhalf but was replaced as he was unable to get the star-studded backline into action. 

Munster 33-0 Edinburgh
Last seasons Semi Finalists, Edinburgh were humiliated for a second week in a row to be eliminated from Quarter Finals contention. The club´s form is bad news for Scotland with the side in need of winning tests this coming November so it can enhance its position in the IRB World Rankings ahead of the draw for Rugby World Cup 2015 which will be made in December. 

Saracens 9
Munster 6
Racing Métro 4
Edinburgh 0

Pool 2
Benetton Treviso 21-33 Toulouse
The better of the two Italian sides did considerably better than Italian sides have feared in past seasons against the French giants. It was leading 18-9 at the interval and the Italian international coach was looking on from the stands. Toulouse, recovered to score three second half tries and claim victory. Los Pumas secondrower Patricio Albacete played the full 80 minutes for the winners. The Canadian-Italian Robert Barbieri started in the backrow while the Argentine-Italian Ignacio Fernández-Rouyet was a replacement in the secondhalf.

Leicester Tigers 39-22 Ospreys
The constant fighting giong on behind closed doors between the Welsh Rugby Union and the Regions is not helping the nations teams perform well in the Heineken Cup. Of the three sides representing Wales the best placed is the Ospreys but it is also, arguably in the toughest pool. Only the winner is likely to advance which makes bonus points all the more important. The Welsh region was well beaten by Leicester on Sunday however. The Tigers´ bonus point victory was a good recovery after playing poorly in round one against Toulouse. The Tigers had Pumas prop Marcos Ayerza and the Argentine-Italian prop Martín Castrogiovanni on the bench. Both were secondhalf replacements. Former USA age grade representative and future Welsh international, Hanno Dirksen started on the right wing for the Ospreys.

Toulouse 8
Ospreys 5 
Leicester 5
Treviso 0

Pool 3
Biarritz 38-17 Zebre
This group is highly likely to see two teams advancing to the Quarter Finals. The reason being that it is the weakest of all six. It has last seasons Aviva Premiership Champions in the Harlequins but that aside it is not notable at all. Biarritz qualified by the skin of its teeth after winning the Amlin Challenge Cup. It had finished a lowly eighth in the Top 14 and faced relegation for much of the season. Its bonus point win over Italian side Zebre is likely to be replicated in the return match and it should also defeated the Harlequins at home and Connacht both home and away. USA winger Taku Ngwenya scored Biarritz´s third try. he was joined in the starting lineup by Argentine international Francisco Goméz Kodela who started at tighthead prop. Pumas centre Marcelo Bosch returned from international duty to take a place on the bench. He entered in the 53rd minute. Zebre had a three players from the Americas. Luciano Orquera played flyhalf, forming a 10-12 combination with Gonzalo Garcia. USA prop Dave Ryan was a second half replacement.

Connacht 22-30 Harlequins
The Quins are two from two but cannot be happy with the way the team performed in Galway, Ireland this past weekend. After being ten points behind with Connact leading 19-9 in the first half, the Quisn responded to go clear to win by two tries to one.

Harlequins 9
Biarritz 5
Connacht 4
Zebre 0

Pool 4
Castres 21-16 Northampton Saints
South-Western French side, Castres did Ulster a huge favor by defeating the Northampton Saints. It will simplify the Irish provinces campaign with Ulster looking to win the group. Uruguayan international, Rodrigo Capó Ortega was not used in this match. The Americas were nonetheless represented as USA international secondrower Samu Manoa started for the English side.

Glasgow Warriors 8-19 Ulster
The Warriors are looking better than Edinburgh but the signs are not too strong at this stage of the season in either the Heineken Cup or the Rabo Direct Pro 12. The team does have some injury concerns including Canada´s DTH van der Merwe. USA prop Callum Black was a 68th minute replacement for Ulster.

Ulster 9
Northampton 6
Castres 4 
Glasgow 0

Pool 5
Scarlets 13-20 Leinster
The Irish province may have won its first two matches but it is far from looking like defending champions let alone the best team in the pool. Like in round one over Exeter its victory was based far more on goalkicking than anything else. The Welsh region is now all but out of the running as both Leinster and Clermont have one two matches. Los Pumas secondrower Tomás Vallejos Cinalli made his debut for the Welsh region from the bench in the second half.

Exeter Chiefs  12-46 Clermont Auvergne
The English side played some good rugby in this match and was competitive in the first half but the superiority of Clermont Auvergne became obvious in the second half. The side from central France was highly impressive in collecting a bonus point. It is the only team in the Heineken Cup to have the full 10 points after two rounds. Canadian international secondrower Jamie Cudmore started for Clermont while Argentine international flyhalf Ignacio Mieres was on the bench for Exeter. Mieres came on in the final minutes. Gonzalo Camacho was rested. 

Clermont 10
Leinster 8
Scarlets 1
Exeter 1

Pool 6
Cardiff Blues 14-22 Toulon
Toulon look to alongside Clermont ahve set the tone. The French club conceeded an early try with Welsh international Leigh Halfpenny scoring in the opening minutes. Toulon recovered and got about its business with Jonny Wilkinson putting his side in control of the match. A secondhalf Toulon try sealed the result. The away victory means Toulon should now be targetting a home Semi Final. Los Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe started at blindside flanker for Toulon. 

Montpellier 33-18 Sale Sharks 
One side happy with the return of Pumas players was Montpellier. The French club had six Argentine players in its starting XV, including an all-Argentine frontrow. Agustín Creevy started at hooker, lasting 43 minutes. Juan Figallo continues to play test rugby at tighthead prop but club rugby as a loosehead. He played 80 minutes while Maximilano Bustos played 64. Santiago Fernández was iniitially named on the bench but he started at inside centre to reform the clubs 10-12 combination with François Trinh-Duc. Lucas González Amorosino was fullback while Martín Bustos Moyano played wing. Bustos Moyano got no game time at all in The Rugby Championship and in his first game back at Montpellier he reminded the selectors of his qualities as he kicked 18 points. Prop Nahuel Lobo did not play. 

Toulon 9
Montpellier 4
Sale 4
Cardiff 1

* Currently qualifying for Quarter Finals.

Saracens v Racing Métro

Benetton Treviso v Toulouse

Leicester Tigers v Ospreys

Biarritz v Zebre

Leinster v Scarlets

Exeter Chiefs v Clermont Auvergne

H-CUP - journée 2 Exeter 12 - 46 Clermont par warrant

Cardiff Blues v Toulon

H-CUP - journée 2 Cardiff 14 - 22 Toulon par warrant

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