Sunday, December 22, 2013

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Americas Exports - Round 10 Wrap

Credit Photo Huw Evans Picture Agency: Hanno Dirksen to represent Wales
With the competition nearing the midway point it is a time to make predictions for the play-offs. Presently the top three spots are all taken by Irish provinces with the Ospreys sitting in fourth and the Glasgow Warriors, with a match in hand, in fifth. No other side is presently in reach of the play-offs but either Edinburgh or the Scarlets could change this over the coming rounds. Round ten, like all rounds, featured a notable number of players from the Americas as the last IRB defined region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup continues to be a major player in the Celtic-Italian league.

Cardiff Blues 19-22 Ospreys
A local derby at the Arms Park in Cardiff on Friday evening saw the argument for the Welsh model to be changed given further encouragement. Such a match ought to carry a massive rivalry and feature big name Welsh players but instead it was played at a small venue and many of the test players from both regions missed the match. Former USA age grade representative Hanno Dirksen started on the right wing for the Ospreys while Canadian winger Jeff Hassler came on late in the match. Canadian back-rower Tyler Ardron was also on the bench. Despite defeating Toulon in the Heineken Cup the Cardiff Blues are the worst performing Welsh side in the RaboDirect Pro 12 so far this season. Dirksen is set to play for Wales, potentially debuting against his country of birth, South Africa on the June 2014 tour.

Edinburgh 11-6 Leinster
Following Leinster´s shock loss against the Northampton Saints in Dublin last weekend the match in the Scottish capital was an opportunity to bounce back. Instead the home side pulled off a notable upset result and in doing so shot up in the standings to sixth position. Neither of Edinburgh´s Argentine players featured in the match. 

Ulster 13-6 Zebre
Ulster moved into second position on Friday evening with a tight win over the visiting Italian side Zebre. The Italians had been humiliated by Saracens in the Heineken Cup but went to Belfast to play and came away with a bonus point. Callum Black from Washington D.C. started at loosehead prop for Ulster. He remains uncapped and a strong chance to play for the USA at Rugby World Cup 2015. Italy´s Argentine fly half Luciano Orquera played 10 for Zebre kicking two goals. Matias Aguero was on the bench. 

Glasgow Warriors v Benetton Treviso
The match scheduled to be played in Glasgow on Friday evening was postponed due to the weather. 

Connacht 14-11 Dragons
A home win for Irish province Connacht over the Newport-Gwent Dragons on Saturday sees the Galway based side over take Zebre and thus no longer sit on the bottom of the table. Former Puma Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro started at tighthead prop for the Welsh region.

Munster 16-10 Scarlets
Also played on Saturday in Ireland was another Irish province v Welsh region clash. Having defeated Perpignan with a miracle victory in the Heineken Cup Munster was in great confidence ahead of a home clash against strugglers the Scarlets. Munster moved the match away from Limerick to Cork. With Munster winning and Leinster moving the southern province now holds a six point lead. The ten point difference between Munster and Glasgow ought to chance though as the Warriors will be likely to win the postponed fixture.

1 Munster 39
2 Ulster 33
3 Leinster 32
4 Ospreys 31
5 Glasgow 29*
6 Edinburgh 21
7 Scarlets 21
8 Dragons 20
9 Cardiff 17
10 Treviso 14 *
11 Connacht 11

12 Zebre 9

* Game in hand

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