Sunday, December 9, 2012

Heineken Cup - Round 3 Wrap

Pool 1 
Munster 15-9 Saracens
The chances of two teams from Pool 1 making the final eight are very low. With three teams still very much having a chance of qualifying it is paramount that no more games are dropped. Saracens entered the round in first place but Munster´s win in the tryless match has made it very wideopen. USA born Irish international flyhalf scored all of Munster´s points while USA Eagles fullback Chris Wyles staretd on the left wing for the English club.

Racing Métro 19-9 Edinburgh
Last seasons Semi Finalists, Edinburgh will not be making a repeat appearance as the Scottish side was eliminated by France´s Racing Métro on Saturday. After three rounds it remains winless. Racing Métro are in third place but are far from being eliminated. Three Pumas featured for the winners with Juan Imhoff starting on the left wing and Juan Martín Hernández at fullback. They were joined by frontrower Juan Pablo Orlandi as a replacement. 

Pool 1 Standings
1 Saracens 10
2 Munster 10
3 Racing Métro 8
4 Edinburgh 0

Pool 2 
Toulouse 30-14 Ospreys
Toulouse are well and truely in control of Pool 2 while the strongest Welsh Region is now all but elimianted. The bonus point victory saw the return of Patricio Albacete from injury. The Argentine international missed the November Tour of Wales, France and Ireland. He played the full 80 minutes for the French side. 

Leicester Tigers 33-25 Benetton Treviso
Leicester´s home victory puts the English club into second place in the Pool and also makes it one of the two highest ranked teams of all those in second place in their respective pools. As such Leicester would currently qualify for the Quarter Finals. Leicester´s bonus point victory featured two Argentine props in the starting lineup with Los Pumas´s Marcos Ayerza starting at loosehead and the Argentine-Italian Martín Castrogiovanni playing tighthead. Benetton Treviso also had two players from Argentina starting the match in the frontrow as Ignacio Fernández-Rouyet played against Castrogiovanni and France Sbaraglini played hooker. Alberto di Bernardo kicked ten points after coming off the bench. 

Pool 2 Standings
1 Toulouse 13
2 Leicester 10
3 Ospreys 5
4 Treviso 0

Pool 3 
Connacht 22-14 Biarritz
The tradition of Biarritz failing against lowly sides continued as the former Heineken Cup Champions were humiliated again, this time in Galway by Connacht. The loss does not mean elimination though as Biarritz are in a weak group that also includes Zebre. The loss does hand the Harlequins a golden opportunity of hosting a Quarter Final however. Argentina´s Marcelo Bosch started at centre for Biarritz and Francisco Gomez Kodela was the starting tighthead prop. They were joined by Taku Ngwenya wilth the USA Eagles ace playing on the right wing. Bosch may well move to flyhalf as the playmaking of Mat Berquist was questionable. 

Zebre 14-57 Harlequins
The Quins had a perfect result in Italy. It should make people throughout England happy as the chances of no English team making the Quarter Finals is very low. Zebre had four players from the Americas in its starting lineup. The Italian World Cup 10-12 combination started with Luciano Orquera at flyhalf and Gonzalo Garcia at outside centre. The props were also both from the Americas with the USA´s Dave Ryan starting at tighthead prop and Matias Aguero of Argentina playing loosehead.

Pool 3 Standings
1 Harlequins 14
2 Connacht 8
3 Biarritz 5
4 Zebre 0

Pool 4
Northampton Saints 6-25 Ulster
Northampton captain and English international hooker Dylan Hartley was not happy with his teams performance as his side offered nothing against the impressive Irish province. The win means Ulster have won thriteen games in a row while the home loss all but eliminates the 2011 finalists ahead of the return match in Belfast next weekend. USA secondrower Samu Manoa started for the Saints while USA prop Callum Black was on Ulster´s bench. 

Glasgow Warriors 6-9 Castres
There will be no Scottish sides in the Heineken Cup play-off´s after the Glasgow Warriors loss sees the club, like Edinburgh, sit bottom of the table. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega did not feature for Castres but there were North Americans in action. Tommy Seymour of the USA started on the right wing while Canada´s DTH van der Merwe was the left winger. 

Pool 4 Standings
1 Ulster 14
2 Castres 8
3 Northampton 6
4 Glasgow 1

Pool 5 
Scarlets 16-22 Exeter Chiefs
A good away victory by the Exeter Chiefs means the chances of a Welsh Region featring in the Heineken Cup Quuarter Finals are very low. In its first season in the premier European competition Exeter has done well in two of its first three matches after it had pushed Leinster far in the first round. The win featured two Pumas with Gonzalo Camacho starting on the right wing and Ignacio Mieres playing the final eight minutes as a flyhalf replacement. Tomás Vallejos Cinalli did not feature for the Scarlets. 

Clermont Auvergne 15-12 Leinster
The remarkable home record of Clermont Auvergne continues as the central French club is seemingly unable to lose at the Stade Marcel-Michelin. It´s victory over the reigning Heineken Cup Champions puts the club in control of Pool 5. While Leinster will play host to Clermont Auvergne next weekend it will do so needing to win with a bonus point to match the French club in the Pool´s Standings. Leinster´s failure to capitalize against Exeter could well prove crucial. Canadian enforcer Jamie Cudmore started the match in the secondrow for Clermont.

Pool 5 Standings
1 Clermont 14
2 Leinster 9
3 Exeter 5
4 Scarlets 2

Pool 6
Sale Sharks 6-17 Toulon
The star-studded Toulon team should have won this match by a massive margin but the club will nevertheless be happy to have won in England and now be very secure. Toulon will need to improve a lot as the side looked far more like fifteen individuals than a collective team. Some big names had poor matches such as David Smith and Simon Shaw. Los Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe played well in the backrow, lasting 80 minutes. Toulon host Sale next weekend and should win with a bonus point. This would give the club 18 points and all but guarantee its place in the Final Eight. 

Cardiff Blues 24-35 Montpellier
Montpellier fielded a team with a number of international players but also team missing plenty of internationals. The lineup was very much one selected with the Top 14 in mind as the club is clearly giving preference to the French competition. Montpellier nevertheless won and can now look to win its remaining matches to advance to the Quarter Finals. Three Pumas started for Montpellier with Agustín Creevy playing hooker and Maximilano Bustos continuing to look like a good tighthead prop for the futore. Both players were replaced in the secondhalf. Santi Fernández played the full match at flyhalf and had a fine performance. There are questions over his future at flyhalf or inside centre for Argentina given that he is not a reliable goalkicking option and the players available to Santiago Phelan. Fernández played against an impressive 19 year old, Rhys Patchell who kicked 24 points for Cardiff and was very well organized. He could very well replace Rhys Priestland as Wales´s starting flyhalf in the Six Nations. 

Pool 6 Standings
1 Toulon 13
2 Montpellier 8
3 Sale 4
4 Cardiff 1

* Would currently Qualify for Quarter Finals

Munster v Saracens

Racing Métro v Edinburgh

Toulouse v Ospreys

Zebre v Harlequins

Connacht v Biarritz

Northampton Saints v Ulster

Scarlets v Exeter Chiefs

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