Sunday, October 20, 2013

Heineken Cup Americas Exports - Round Two Wrap

Photo Getty Images: Samu Manoa celebrates scoring against the Ospreys
The second round of the 2013-2014 Heineken Cup was a good one for Irish sides ad Welsh supporters also had reason to jump for joy. The same cannot be said for either England ro France the leaders of the breakaway competition set to replace the Heineken Cup. After Toulouse won at Wembley on Friday Saturday was less than memorable for either country but on Sunday they impressed with Perpignan and Clermont Auvergne looking ominous before dropping their performances after halftime. The round saw three USA players scoring tries. The Heineken Cup will resume in December. 

Pool 1
Leinster 19-7 Castres
The visiting French club had a chance of completing a rare vctory in Dublin but fell short as Leinster was able to recover from an early Rory Kockott converted try to keep Castres scoreless for the rest of the match. Leinster, though, looked far from being a powerhouse side and only managed to score one try. Starting for Castres was Uruguayan forward Rodrigo Capó Ortega who wil need to play for Uruguay in March to give his country the best possible chance of qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015.

Northampton 27-16 Ospreys
The Northampton Saints overtook Castres with a home win on Sunday but the team was unable to complete what ought to have been a bonus point victory. The three tries to one victory was a made of much interest to followers of North American rugby. Samu Manoa started in the back-row for the English side and was a try scorer. Meanwhile the young Canadian pairing of winger Jeff Hassler and back-rower Tyler Ardron both featured for the visiting Welsh region. Hassler was a starting winger while Ardron was a replacement. All three should be in action next month at international level.

Standings
1 Leinster 8
2 Northampton 5
3 Castres 4
4 Ospreys 0

Pool 2
Cardiff 19-15 Toulon
Pool 2 was blown wide open on Saturday as Welsh region the Cardiff Blues, playing in pink, scored a late try to defeat the reigning champions in a home fixture. Toulon was so poor that it was unable to score a try despite being up against a team struggling in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 and one that was humiliated by the Exeter Chiefs in round one of the Heineken Cup. Cardiff was able to call upon Welsh international players who have not played a lot this season such as Alex Cuthbert, Bradley Davies, Gethin Jenkins, Leigh Halfpenny and Sam Warburton. Such is the controversy that enables Pro 12 sides to save key players for big matches that European rugby is faced with the break-away competition. Starting for Toulon was Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe who should face Warburton again next month at international level.

Glasgow Warriors 20-16 Exeter Chiefs
Birthday boy Gabriel Ascárate celebrated turning 26 by starting for the Glasgow Warriors at inside centre in what was his first club start since joining the Scottish side. Joining The Pumas centre in the starting lineup were Canadian international DTH van der Merwe and the USA´s Tommy Seymour who is capped for Scotland. Having been badly defeated by Toulon last weekend the result in Scotland on Sunday afternoon puts Glasgow back in contention for a place in the Quarter Finals.

Standings
1 Toulon 6
2 Exeter 6
3 Glasgow 5
4 Cardiff 5

Pool 3
Saracens 16-17 Toulouse
The round kicked-off at the home of English soccer on Friday evening with Saracens playing host to Toulouse at Wembley Stadium. The French sdie got the lead late in the match with a try ten minutes from fulltime but could lay claim to having been let down by officiating as Saracens´ first try scored by USA fullback Chris Wyles was illegal with there having been a clear forward pass missed by the referee and touch judge. The try ought to have been evaluated by the video referee. In the end Toulouse left with the competition points to now be all but certain to win the group and claim a home Quarter Final due to the pool featuring the weakest sides from both Italy and Ireland. Patricio Albacete was rested for the match while Marcelo Bosch was on the Saracens bench in his first ever appearance since moving to the club. He did not play however. 
Zebre 6-33 Connacht
Neither side can claim to be in the Heieneken Cup based on merit. They are there due to the qualification process being different for Rabo Direct Pro 12 teams than it is for members of the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14. Both sides are hihgly unlikely to defeat either Saracens or Toulouse while the English and French clubs both have realistic chances of playing in the Quarter Finals. Luciano Orquera kicked all of Zebre´s points while two other Italian international players from Argentina started as Gonzalo Garcia played in the mid-field and Matias Aguera started in the front-row. 

Standings
1 Toulouse 9
2 Connacht 5
3 Saracens 5
4 Zebre 0

Pool 4
Scarlets 26-26 Racing Métro
Racing Métro let a prime opportunity of an away victory slip as the Welsh region was able to recover from a poor start and complete a draw in Llanelli on Saturday. Neither side claimed a bonus point in the 26-26 draw but in having both won their opening round fixtures the sides are tied at the top of the table. Starting for the French side was Pumas wigner Juan Imhoff who is likely to be in the test team to face Wales in Cardiff next month.

Clermont 23-16  Harlequins
A strong start from the home side saw three tries scored very early but in failing to score any after the first twenty-five minutes of the match Clermont Auvergne was unable to collect a bonus point. As such it is behind both Racing Métro and the Scarlets by one competition point. Former All Black Nick Evans landed a late dropgoal which saw the London based side collect a bonus point.

Standings
1 Racing Métro 6
2 Scarlets 6
3 Clermont 5
4 Harlequins 2

Pool 5
Leicester Tigers 34-3 Benetton Treviso
An easy home win for the Leicester Tigers repairs some of the damage that saw the English champions unable to win against Ulster last weekend. The bonus point win on Friday evening featured a try from USA international Blaine Scully who continues to impress and appear likely to have his short-term contract expanded or join a rival club. None of Leicester´s three Pumas players featured in this match but this should change for the Aviva Premiership which restarts next weekend. Playing back-row for Benetton Treviso was Canada´s Robert Barbieri who is an Italian international. Francho Sgbaraglini, Ignacio Fernández-Rouyet and Pedro de Santo are all from Argentina but all capped for Italy. The front-row players were all replacements against Leicester.

Montpellier 8-25 Ulster
The decision of the Montpellier club to release Pumas players rather than hold on to them for this season does not appear to have been a smart one. The players to have replaced the likes of Agustín Creevy, Santiago Fernández, Martín Bustos Moyano  and Lucas González Amorosino are yet to perform to the same level. It indeed had a role to play in the poor showing of Montpellier at home against Ulster on Saturday. The Northern Ireland side scored only one try in its big away victory. Starting at tighthead prop for Montpellier was Argentina´s Maximilano Bustos while the uncapped USA product, Callum Black was on the Ulster bench.
Standings
1 Ulster 8
2 Leicester 6
3 Montpellier 4
4 Treviso 0

Pool 6
Munster 26-10 Gloucester
Irish province Munster turned-around last weekends loss to score a two tries to one victory in Limerick on Saturday. It should place the province well for the remainder of the competition. Gloucester meanwhile utilized a playing strip identical to one used by Stade Français featuring the color pink.

Perpignan 31-14 Edinburgh
A bonus point home victory on Sun day saw Perpignan claim top position in the pool. The victory over Edinburgh means the pool has been blown wide open with any of the four teams standing a realistic chance of coming out on top. Starting for the Scottish side were two players from Buenos Aires. Tomás Leonardí started at openside flanker while the uncapped Joaquín Domínguez played inside centre matching that of Tucumán´s Ascárate. Like Ascárate both players stand a chance, albeit it small, of making the Pumas squad for international duty next month.

Standings
1 Perpignan 6
2 Munster 5
3 Edinburgh 4
4 Gloucester 4

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