Sunday, December 8, 2013

Heineken Cup Americas Exports - Round Three Wrap

Jamie Cudmore scored for Clermont Auvergne on Saturday
The ongoing problems surrounding the future of the Heineken Cup were forgotten over the weekend as the best teams from England, France, Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales took to the field to battle it out in the third round of the 2013-2014 tournament. England´s threat of a boycott could ruin the tournament but the results were mixed for English clubs as the best performers came from Ireland. Involved were players from the Americas as two countries from both North and South America were represented on Europe´s elite stage.

Pool 1
Castres 15-9 Ospreys
A tryless matches began the round as 2013 French champions Castres took on Welsh region the Ospreys. Castres is not a team that regularly scores four or more tries in a match which means that the club had little reason to feel it had not completed the task. On the bench for Castres was Uruguayan veteran Rodrigo Capó Ortega who played in Rugby World Cups 1999 and 2003 and is likely to face the USA in March 2014 in Rugby World Cup 2015 qualification matches. The winner will qualify but the USA will not be able to count on former age grade player Hanno Dirksen who is, instead, going to represent Wales. Dirksen missed out on facing Castres but Canadian winger Jeff Hassler and second-rower Tyler Ardron both started. Aged 22 both players are likely to be genuine stars at Rugby World Cup 2015 for Canada.

Northampton 7-40 Leinster
It is season over for the Northampton Saints as one of England´s biggest hopes this season was humiliated at home by Irish province Leinster. The results makes it a relatively simple task for the Dublin based side to secure a home Semi Final but it must, nonetheless, continue winning. USA Eagles second-rower Samu Manoa started for the Saints. 

1 Leinster 13
2 Castres 8
3 Northampton 5
4 Ospreys 1

Pool 2
Exeter 9-14 Toulon
Sandy Park has been a talking point recently due to the stadium´s upgrading set to begin in early 2014 to give it a modern venue for Rugby World Cup 2015. It will host three matches making it an important player in the tournament. The field has been talked about as being amongst the best in the Aviva Premiership and it is increasingly becoming a popular destination with players. The Exeter Chiefs have developed and almost defeated the 2013 European champions who have, thus far, failed to spark in the Heineken Cup.

Cardiff Blues 29-20 Glasgow Warriors
The only team that can be said to have a realistic chance of finishing ahead of Toulon in the group is the Cardiff Blues. The Welsh region recorded an important home victory over the Glasgow Warriors on Friday to remain one point behind the French giants. Both teams scored two tries each but with Leigh Halfpenny continuing his great form the Blues came out on top. Starting in the backline for the Scottish side were Canadian DTH van der Merwe who played on the left wing and Puma Gabriel Ascárate who played centre.

1 Toulon 10
2 Cardiff 9
3 Exeter 7
4 Glasgow 5

Pool 3
Zebre 10-39 Saracens
Italian side Zebre hosted Saracens on Saturday and was well beaten. The result confirms that Pool 3 is likely to have two teams advancing to the Quarter Finals. Both Saracens and Toulouse are likely to be in the final eight with one of the two hosting a Quarter Final. in Saturday´s match Mendoza´s Gonzalo Garcia started in the midfield for Zebre while Córdoba´s Luciano Orquera was a replacement. Both players are Italian internationals. Involved for Saracens was Puma Marcelo Bosch who was on the bench while USA fullback Chris Wyles started in the mid-field and scored a try. In scoering Wyles became Saracens´ record Heineken Cup try scorer.

Toulouse 14-16 Connacht 
Humiliation for French rugby as the biggest team in the history of the Heineken Cup, Stade Toulousain was defeated by a team lucky to be playing in the competition. Irish province Connacht made history by winning 16-14 in Toulouse to underline the problems facing the club and the French test team. A notable number of players are simply playing poorly and many Toulouse could well never play again for France. Patricio Albacete missed the match through injury.

1 Toulouse 10
2 Saracens 10
3 Connacht  9
4 Zebre 0

Pool 4
Clermont 32-11 Scarlets
2013 finalists Clermont Auvergne is, alongside Leinster, the form team of the competition. After three rounds Clermont is well placed and it should be able to win the pool and secure a home Semi Final. The central French side did not start well against Welsh region the Scalets though as the score was a mere 6-3 at the midway stage. Clermont, though, turned it on after the interval to complete a bonus point victory. The first try was scored by Canadian Jamie Cudmore who is likely to play in a fourth Rugby World Cup in 2015.

Racing Métro 8-32 Harlequins
Last season Racing Métro hosted Saracens in Nantes in the Heineken Cup and attracted a very large crowd. The Parisians played well to power out to an impressive lead only to implode enabling the English visitors to win. Racing Métro repeated history by relocating its home fixture against a London based side to Nantes and, again, the performance left plenty to be desired as the Quins came and conquered to return home looking strong. The Racing Métro side was below full strength with a number of players including Juan Imhoff and Jonny Sexton not starting. Puma Juan Martín Hernández did play with the veteran wearing the 15 shirt but having a match to forget.

1 Clermont 10
2 Harlequins 7
3 Scarlets 6
4 Racing Métro 6

Pool 5
Ulster 48-0 Treviso
An all-Rabo Direct Pro 12 match saw Northern Irish province Ulster dominate to underline its credentials as the team to beat in Pool 5. It provided fuel to the fire of officials from outside of the Pro 12 who have reason to believe the qualifying system is outrageous. Uncapped USA prop Callum Black was on the bench for Ulster while Treviso had Canadian Robert Barbieri starting in the back-row and two Italian players from Argentina on the bench in the form of Ignacio Fernández Rouyet and Franco Sgaraglini.

Leicester 41-32 Montpellier
The Leicester Tigers got off to the perfect start on Sunday against the visiting Montpellier. Leicester held a 24-3 lead in the 15th minute but Montpellier then fought back well to be 24-18 down at the interval. The second half continued saw both teams plays attacking rugby with Montpelleir able to stay in touch for much of it through impressiev counter attacking play. Both teams scored four or more tries to get a bonus point and with François Trinh-Duc landing a conversion in the 80th minute it was set for Leicester to secure five points and Montpellier two. Montpellier, though, only got one thanks to Timoci Naguca´s basic error from the kick-off and Ryan Lamb kicking a dropgoal thereafter. Marcos Ayerza played for the Tigers at loosehead prop whil Maximilano Bustos was Montpellier´s tighthead. USA winger Blaine Scully was on the bench.

1 Ulster 13
2 Leicester 11
3 Leicester 5
4 Treviso 0

Pool 6
Munster 26-8 Perpignan
Irish province Munster was far too strong for Top 14 mid-table side Perpignan on Sunday. The five tries to one victory sees Muster in firm control and likely to now have a home Quarter Final. Perpignan can now focus its attention on the Top 14. No players from the Americas featured in the match.

Edinburgh 12-23 Gloucester 
The pool´s second pool match also took place on Sunday and it saw Aviva Premiership strugglers complete a second win of the season. Edinburgh had most of its stars playing byut failed to produce a good performance for the home supporters and now it sits bottom of the table and will not ber able to make the play-offs. On ther bench for the Scottish side was uncapped Argentine centre Joaquín Domínguez.

1 Munster 10
2 Gloucester 8
3 Perpignan 6
4 Edinburgh 4

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