Sunday, December 8, 2013

Amlin Challenge Cup Americas Exports - Round Three Wrap

Photo Zimbio: Taku Ngwenya scored for Biarritz against Worcester
Round three of the Amlin Challenge Cup continued with the pattern of the two earlier rounds as theleading sides in each pool continue to be from the Aviva Premiership and Top 14 competitions. Developing sides from Portugal and Romania continue to gain valuable experience while none of the competing Italian sides of the one team from the Rabo Direct Pro 12 not in the Heineken Cup are likely to advance beyond the pool stage. Many participating clubs fielded players from the Americas as Argentina, Canada and the USA continue to be significant contributors to the professional game.

Pool 1
Oyonnax 16-10 Sale Sharks
Former Pumas players were the key performers for Oyonnax as the Top 14 side got the better of English club side the Sale Shaks on Thursday. Scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola has not played for Argentina since 2010. He was dropped by Santiago Phelan following Argentina´s second home defeat against Scotland and despite not having been considered in the top three scrumhalves since Rugby World Cup 2011 he could be returning in 2014 under Daniel Hourcade. Benjamín Urdapilleta has been playing together in a 9-10 combination with Figuerola all season for Oyonnax but has only been able to play for Argentina in June when European based Rugby Championship players are not selected. Figuerola scored Oyonax´s only try while Urdapilleta kicked eight points. Canadian Phil MacKenzie started for Sale and scored his team´s only try.

Worcester 15-19 Biarritz 
Pool 1´s other match of the round was also played on Thursday. It was the battle of the two basement clubs as bottom of the Aviva Premiership, the Worcester Warriors hosted bottom of the Top 14 Biarritz. The misery continued for the English side as the club remains winless in both the Aviva Premiership and Amlin Challenge Cup this season. It is, nonetheless, important to point out that Worcester has a pool without teams from Italy, Portugal or Romania. Pumas second-rower Mariano Galarza started for Worcester while USA Eagles winger Taku Ngwenya started for the visitors and scored a try. Also involved was former Puma Ignacio Mieres who was on the bench.

1 Sale Sharks 10
2 Biarritz 9
3 Oyonnax 6
4 Worcester 3

Pool 2

Mogliano 8-55 Bath
Bath is one of the form English clubs in the Aviva Premiership and the clubs signing during the off-season have given it a superior roster to a number of English clubs in the Heineken Cup. The team that took on Italian side Mogliano was missing a number of regular players including Puma Horacio Agulla. There was, nonetheless, room for both hooker Eusebio Guiñazú and tighthead prop Juan Pablo Orlandi who started the match. The one time capped Puma Agustín Costa Repetto played loosehead prop for Mogliano.

Dragons 40-24 Bordeaux
A good home win for the Welsh region keeps the Newport based side in the competition while, in losing, Bordeaux-Begles can now focus entirely on avoiding relegation from the Top 14. Argentine fullback Joaquín Tuculet played at the back for the French side while former Puma Rafael Carballo also recieved game time.

1 Bath 13
2 Dragons 10
3 Bordeaux 5
4 Mogliano 0

Pool 3
Bucharest 13-18 Brive
Although Brive did not field its best team the traditional French side would have entered the match against the Romanians expecting to win. Indeed Brive was victorious but the win came without scoring a try. Brive may well win the group and advance to the Quarter Finals but its chances of going beyond that are very low. 

Newcastle 37-15 Calvisano 
Standing in the way of Brive is English club the Newcastle Falcons. Newcastle is now tied with Brive on ten competition points. Soon to play for Newcastle is Pumas mid-fielder Gonzalo Tiesi who is at the club but yet to play due to having hurt himself against England last month. Playing for Calvisano was uncapped Argentine second-rower Agustín Cavalieri.

1 Brive 10
2 Newcastle 10
3 Bucaresti 6
4 Calvisano 2

Pool 4

Bayonne 63-7 Viadana
With Biarritz and Bayonne in talks about the prospect of uniting for the purposes of the Top 14 it is of note to see both teams winning in the Amlin Challenge Cup. With both facing the real prospect of being relegated a merger is a genuine possibility as the financial complications mean the chances of having Biarritz again winning the Top 14 or playing in the Heineken Cup Final are remote. Playing fullback for Bayonne was Argentina´s Martín Bustos Moyano. Although he was not the goal kicker for this fixture he was able to get on the score sheet as a try scorer. Gabriel Pizarro played in the midfield for Viadana while Juan Pablo Sánchez was a replacement.

Grenoble 7-47 London Wasps
Just seven days after defeating Toulouse at the Stade des Alpes in a classic rugby contest Top 14 side Grenoble lost by forty points against the London Wasps. Who did and did not play for Grenoble illustrated exactly how what the target is as the Top 14 is the priority for Grenoble due to the possibility of either relegation or a chance at making the play-offs.

1 London Wasps 14
2 Bayonne 10
3 Grenoble 5
4 Viadana 0

Pool 5

Cavalieri 40-22 Lusitanos
The Portuguese went to Italy to play rugby and despite being comfortably beaten the manner in which the visitors performed was noteworthy. Portugal is not playing in the competition with the goal of winning but rather creating a sustainable manner in which it can give players an opportunity of playing at a higher level that would otherwise be possible. Involved in the performance of the winning team was former Los Pampas XV prop Emiliano Coria.

London Irish 24-13 Stade Français Paris
English superiority over French teams this weekend in the Heineken Cup saw Montpellier and Racing Métro both fail to deliver. In the Amlin Challenge Cup strugglers London Irish also produced a performance that saw Stade Français return to Paris unhappy. The Parisians have been playing well in the Top 14 but did not produce a good performance of note in Reading. Canadian Jebb Sinclair was a starting back-rower for London Irish while American Scott LaValla played back-row for the visitors. Both players have been used as second-rowers in 2013 for international duty.

1 London Irish 14
2 SF Paris 9
3 Cavalieri 6
4 Lusitanos XV 0

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