Sunday, April 7, 2013

Amlin Challenge Cup - Quarter Finals Wrap

Gloucester 31-41 Biarritz
The Quarter Finals got underway in England´s West Country on Friday evening with Gloucester hosting Biarritz in one of the rare venues for the 2015 World Cup. With England set to utilize soccer facilities Gloucester´s Kingsholm is set to be possibly the only permanent Aviva Premiership home ground to host World Cup matches. Gloucester has been playing well this season in the Aviva Premiership while Biarritz is well down the standings in the Top 14 and is not going to play in the barrage play-off matches. As such it has a tough mission of securing a place in the Heineken Cup next season. In order to do so it has to win the Heineken Cup, just like it did last season by defeating French rivals Stade Français. Biarritz´s five tries to three win featured three players from the Americas in the starting lineup. USA winger Taku Ngwenya played on the right wing and was joined in the back-three by the departing Marcelo Bosch. The poly-funcional back will be playing his rugby in England after The Rugby Championship. Biarritz will still have the services of Francisco Goméz Kodela who started at tighthead prop against Gloucester.

Perpignan 30-19 Toulouse
Toulouse´s underwhelming season has seen the club eliminated early from the Heineken Cup and also losing a host of Top 14 matches that it would be expected to win and win well. It, nonetheless, remains in the top three of the Top 14 and is likely to feature in the Semi Finals. A team that is unlikely to make the Semi Finals or the Barrage play-off´s is Perpignan who is outside of the top six. Perpignan therefore is not likely to qualify for next seasons Heineken Cup but, in defeating Toulouse, this weekend it showed that it has the ability to upset the apple cart. Toulouse did not field its best possble team. Amongst the players given the game off was Argentine vice-captain Patricio Albacete. 

Bath 20-36 Paris
An impressive away victory for Stade Français Paris sees the club qualify for a second straight Amlin Challenge Cup Semi Final. The team was far too good for Bath in producing some well worked tries. The club can now look to winning the Semi Final but will liekly be without the services of scrumhalf Jerome Fillol who was caught on camera spitting into the face of Peter Stringer. He now faces a certain ban. Stade Français has been having a terrible time in the Top 14 and will not be able to qualify for the 2013-2014 Heineken Cup. Like Biarritz, its only hope is to win the Amlin Challenge Cup. Bath can now focus exclusively on the Aviva Premiership and try to finish in the top six so that it can play in next seasons Heineken Cup. The clubs chances of playing in the Semi Finals of the 2012-2013 Aviva Premiership are low. The match featured Horacio Agulla in the home team with the Pumas winger starting at outside centre, his future position at international level. USA forwards Scott LaValla started for Paris but was not joined by any of the club´s Argentine players. 

London Wasps 28-48 Leinster
The only non-French lub in the Semi Finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup is going to be Irish province Leinster after the Dublin based side defeated the London Wasps comfortably at Adams Park. The horror weekend for English clubs in the Amlin Challenge Cup was matches in the Heineken Cup as only the Saracens won. The Harlequins club was eliminated by Munster while the Leicester Tigers lost against Toulon on Sunday afternoon. 

Gloucester v Biarritz

Perpignan v Toulouse

Bath v Stade Français

London Wasps v Leinster

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