Monday, March 4, 2013

Rabo Direct Pro 12 - Round 17 Wrap

Connacht 23-19 Zebre
The bottom placed Irish side is now on the verge of overtaking the third ranked Welsh region, the Cardiff Blues. Connacht´s four point win puts the province into within one point of the Blues and it is also not to far behind Benetton Treviso. There were players from the Americas involved in the match. Gonzalo Garcia from the Argentine city of Mendoza played inside centre for Zebre and kicked a late penalty. The San Nicolas born Matias Aguero was a frontrow replacement while the USA´s Dave Ryan started at prop.

Glasgow Warriors 29-13 Cardiff Blues
A bonus point home victory for Scottish side the Glasgow Warriors sees the team now sit top of the table and looking highly likely to reach the Semi Finals. The team is now three wins ahead of the fifth placed side, the Ospreys and should go on to secure a home Semi Final. Playing on the left wing for Glasgow was Canadians centre DTH van der Merwe.

Ulster 29-29 Benetton Treviso
The Northern Ireland side is no longer the competition leader following its draw at Belfast against Italian side Benetton Treviso. It is the first time all season that Ulster has not held the lead. It is now tied with Glasgow which is surprizing considering the comparable loses suffered by the teams due to the Six Nations. One of the games key players was Argentina´s Alberto di Bernardo who played flyhalf and scored nine points. He is an option for Italy at flyhalf given the unpredictability of fellow Argentine player Luciano Orquera and the age of Australian born Kris Burton. di Bernardo could possibly feature for Italy in June in South Africa against teams including the Springboks, Samoa and Scotland. He was joined in the Treviso team by Argentina´s Franco Sbaraglini who started at hooker and Canadian Robert Barbieri who played in the backrow. Both Sbaraglini and Barbieri are capped for the Italian national team while di Bernardo has previously played for Italy A. USA prop Callum Black was a replacement for Ulster.

Scarlets 14-13 Edinburgh
A close result in Llanelli but a familiar one for Edinburgh as the team continues to fail to win matches. The Scarlets sit in fourth place and need to win as many of its remaining matches as possible to ensure a place in the final four. Argentina´s Tomás Vallejos Cinalli did not feature for the Welsh region due to having opted to play in the Vodacom Cup for Los Pampas XV. He will now form a handy secondrow combination with former Leinster secondrower Mariano Galarza. The pair could also possibly play for Los Pumas in June against England and Georgia with Agen´s Esteban Lozada also in contention. 

Dragons 19-26 Leinster
A bonus point win for Leinster sees the Irish province move to within one victory of the top of the table. The Newport-Gwent Dragons cannot make the play-off´s and will not play in the 2013-2014 Heienken Cup either. To make matters worse the future of the region is in question as the WRU is considering changes to how it allocates and distributes funding.

Munster 13-13 Ospreys
It is rare for a team to visit Limerick and escapte with a win or a draw but the Ospreys succeeded as the teams competed to a 13-13 draw. playing at flyhalf for the home side was the Californian born Ronan O´Gara. The 130 test veteran was dropped from the team to play in the Six Nations match next weekend against France in Dublin. It likely means that the 36 year old´s international career is over.

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Standings
1 Glasgow 61
2 Ulster 61
3 Leinster 59
4 Scarlets 50
5 Ospreys 49 
6 Munster 43
7 Treviso 35
8 Cardiff 33
9 Connacht 32
10 Edinburgh 24
11 Dragons 23
12 Zebre 8

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