Saturday, January 12, 2013

Amlin Challenge Cup - Round 5 Wrap

Pool 1 
Mont de Marsan 14-20 London Irish
Two struggling teams in their respective domestic competitions started round 4 with a match in France. Mont de Marsan is bottom of the Top 14 and virtually assured of being relegated back to the Pro d2. If the Aviva Premiership had its bottom two drop to the second division then London Irish would be likely to also drop. London Irish is second from bottom and not looking stable. It did get a good win last weekend and needs plenty more. It´s win over Mont de Marsan should give the players and club itself confidence but Gloucester is the favorite to advance from this group into the Amlin Challenge Cup´s Quarter Finals. 

Bordeaux Begles 26-31 Gloucester
Like Mont de Marsan,  Bordeaux-Begles is in grave danger of being relegated from the Top 14. The club is currently tied with Agen. While both are well clear of Mont de Marsan this matters not as in France two teams drop unlike in England. Gloucester is a team doing well this season in the Aviva Premiership and is likely to be in next seasons Heineken Cup. Although it did win away in France the win was against a Bordeaux-Begles side that was very much a second string lineup due to the majority of the clubs players being saved for Top 14 duty. The aim being to win against tired sides from Heineken Cup or Amlin Challenge Cup duty. One of the rested players was Argentine flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez. Another Puma started, however, and he did well scoring the first try of the game. Rafael Carballo played on the right wing for the French side. He did not play for Argentina in 2012 despite being in the squad for The Rugby Championship. He could well return for Los Pumas in June either at centre or on the wing.

Pool 1 Standings
1 Gloucester 22
2 London Irish 15
3 Mont de Marsan 10
4 Bordeaux-Begles 2

Pool 2 
Rovigo 17-80 Worcester Warriors
The Worcester Warriors may not have the greatest try scoring record in the Aviva Premiership but the club had no problems in scoring twelve in Italy on Saturday. The result sees Worcester edge closer to a placew in the final eight.

Gernika 15-50 Perpignan
A big win for Perpignan means this pool will be determined by tries scored as both Perpignan and the Worcester Warriors sit on 20 competition points. They are certain to both win again in the final round and do so with bonus points. 

Pool 2 Standings
1 Worcester 20
2 Perpignan 20
3 Gernika 8
4 Rovigo 0

Pool 3 
Bayonne 25-22 Dragons
Bayoone kept up the pressure on the London Wasps as the French side defeated the Newport Gwent Dragons by three tries to one on Thursday evening. It was not a good result for the Welsh region as it means that Wales is highly unlikely to be represented in the knock-out stage of either the Heineken Cup or Amlin Challenge Cup. Both the Cardiff Blues and Scarlets are well off the pace in the Heineken Cup while the Ospreys, despite defeating Toulouse, remain in a tough position . Given that the WRU is considering major changes to Welsh rugby it could see one of the teams go. As the weakest of the four the Dragons should be very concerned. 

London Wasps 71-7 Mogliano
The English side won this training run with ease to confirm itself as the winner of the pool and do so with a game in hand. The London Wasps will have no problems in winning again to continue its undefeated season in the Amlin Challenge Cup. Its draw v Bayonne will, in the end, not change a thing. 

Pool 3 Standings 
1 London Wasps 21
2 Bayonne 15
3 Dragons 12
4 Mogliano 0

Pool 4 
Calvisano 34-20 Bucharest 
A rare win for an Italian side but it was against A team from Romania. Neither side will be featuring in the play-off´s. Former Italian international Pablo Canavosio of Argentina started on the wing for the home side. 

Bath 19-16 Agen 
Bath are set to play in the Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter Finals and do so with a perfect record. Bath remains undefeated despite its dreadful showing in the Aviva Premiership. Agen is facing relegation and is lacking an attacking game to give itself real hope of causing upsets. The match against Bath was interesting for followers of Los Pumas. The Agulla brothers were both in action. Bath had Horacio Agulla in the starting lineup facing off against Belisario Agulla who started against Horacio.

Pool 4 Standings
Bath 24
Agen 13
Bucharest 9
Calvisano 7

Pool 5
London Welsh 62-5 Cavalieri
Further evidence of the need to rethink the Amlin Challenge Cup as a lowly English club smashed an Italian side. No Italian side has been competitive at all in the competition with the theme having been easy wins for the opposition. London Welsh´s home win featured the return of Canadian international Phil MacKenzie who started on the wing. He scored one of his sides nine tries.

Grenoble 15-9 Stade Français Paris
A shock result in terms of the Amlin Challenge Cup but an expected one looking at it from a Top 14 perspective. Grenoble has been very good in the French competition this season and looks like it will make the play-off´s despite being in the second division last season. It was a tryless match and crucially Grenoble did not collect a bonus point but Stade Français did. As such Paris maintains a five point lead in the pool and willk win it unless London Welsh can cause an upset in the final round. Three new comers to the Pumas ranks were involved in this match. Joaquín Tuculet started at fullback for Grenoble while Juan Cruz Guillemain came off the bench as a secondrow replacement and Francisco Nahuel Tetaz was a frontrow replacement. All players are contenders for Argentina´s squad for the June internationals. 

Pool 5 Standings
1 Paris 20
2 Grenoble 15
3 London Welsh 14
4 Cavalieri 2 

Bayonne v Dragons

Grenoble v Stade Français

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