Monday, December 17, 2012

Amlin Challenge Cup - Round 4 Wrap

Pool 1
Mont de Marsan 18-7 Bordeaux-Begles
Both clubs are in danger of being relegated from the Top 14 to the Pro d2 with Mont de Marsan in grave danger. Bordeaux-Begles has been happy to experiement in the Amlin Challenge Cup to keep its players fresh for the domestic competition. Pumas flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez came off the bench to convert his teams only try while former Argentine winger Rafael Carballo started on the wing.

Gloucester 47-3 London Irish
Gloucester has this pool all but guaranteed after a massive home victory over London Irish on Saturday. It is probably a good thing for London Irish as like Mont de Marsan and Bordeaux-Begles it is in danger of being relegated. 

Pool 1 Standings
Gloucester 18
London Irish 11
Mont de Marsan 9
Bordeaux Begles 1

Pool 2 
Rovigo 10-16 Bizkaia Gernika
Neither team will feature in the Quarter Finals but it was an interesting match considering an Italian side lost against a Spanish side. Bizkaia Gernika were not Spanish champions last season but are the team representing all Spanish clubs in the Amlin Challenge Cup. The win is a strong indication of the progress of Spanish rugby and also the poor state of domestic Italian rugby. With the best players all contracted to Benetton Treviso and Zebre there are simply not enough players of note to compete for the likes of Rovigo. Argentina´s Alessandro Torres Suar started the match for the winners.

Perpignan 13-6 Worcester Warriors
The French club´s win means that Perpignan and the Worcester Warriors are dead even on 15 points. With their remaining matches not being against teams from the Aviva Premiership, Rabo Direct Pro 12 or the Top 14 it means that the team that can score the most points will take out the group. They both needs bonus point victories and this should not be a problem.

Pool 2 Standings
Worcester 15
Perpignan 15
Bizkaia Gernika 8
Rovigo 1 

Pool 3
London Wasps 30-16 Bayonne
Winning at home all but guarantees that this pool will be won by the London Wasps. It is probably good news for Bayonne given the clubs possible relegation from the Top 14 to the Pro d2. 

Newport Gwent Dragons 53-3 Mogliano
Welsh region the Newport-Gwent Dragons has been amongst the worst sides in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 so far this season. The region is doing well in the Amlin Challenge Cup however with Mogliano proving to not be up to the required standards of the competition. The Dragons big win was eclipsed only by Toulon´s performance against the Sale Sharks earlier on Sunday afternoon. 

Pool 3 Standings
London Wasps 16
Bayonne 11
Dragons 11
Mogliano 0

Pool 4
Agen 39-9 Bucharest
After having lost last weekend in Romania Agen reversed the result to win comfortably at home. The bnus point victory featured five tries with one of them being scored by Argentina´s Belisario Agulla who started on the wing. Agulla played for Argentina against Italy and France in June 2012 but missed out on playing in the November Internationals and The Rugby Championship. He could well play in June 2013 as the likes of Gonzalo Camacho, Juan Imhoff and his brother Horacio are likely to be rested. Former Pumas centre Miguel Avramovic was on the bench. 

Calvisano 5-39 Bath
The match was another example of the need to change the Italian participation in the Amlin Challenge Cup as Bath cruied to a second bonus point victory in as many weeks. Clearly the competition is not developing more players for the Italian national team and, as such, the way Italy participates ought to be reconsidered. An alternative that sees the leading players from clubs such as Calvisano, Cavalieri Prato, Rovigo and Mogliano to form one team similar to that of Bucharest being a combination of players from a variety of Romanian clubs. The match featured a hattrick by Argentina´s Horacio Agulla. He started last week at outside centre and this week on the wing. His five tries in two matches puts him in great form with Bath needing fire power for the Aviva Premiership. Agulla played eight tests for Argentina in 2012 without scoring a try.

Pool 4 Standings
Bath 20
Agen 12
Bucharest 9
Calvisano 2

Pool 5
SF Paris 29-6 Cavalieri Prato
Stade Français Paris are well and truely heading for a home Quarter Final. The Parisians bonus point victory continues the problems of Italian sides in the competition while stronger sides like Stade Français can afford to use player who would otherwise get no game time whatsoever. Stade Français´s lineup was very much experimental with a number of players who could be talents of the future getting opportunities. One such player was future Argentine international secondrower Juan Cruz Guillemain who started for Stade Français and was a try scorer. His try was ther first of the match. He was joined by former Pumas prop Francisco Nahuel Tetaz who was on the bench.

London Welsh 13-27 Grenoble
The match was an interesting one to see the difference between two clubs who were playing second division rugby last season. Grenoble´s big win gives the Top 14 bragging rights over the Aviva Premiership. The match is not likely to influence the Amlin Challenge Cup however as Paris appear to be in firm control of the pool. Canadian international Phil MacKenzie started on the wing for London Welsh. 

Pool 5 Standings
SF Paris 19
Grenoble 11
London Welsh 9
Cavalieri Prato 2

*Currently Qualifying for Quarter Finals

London Wasps v Bayonne

SF Paris v Cavalieri Prato

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