Sunday, January 19, 2014

Amlin Challenge Cup Americas Exports- Round six Wrap

Photo Wasps: A Suniula
The sixth and final round of group play in the Amlin Challenge Cup came to a close this afternoon with the London Wasps hosting Arix Viadana from Italy in the day´s only fixture. It ended a round which started on Thursday. The match itself was a deadrubber due to the Wasps already being the group winner. The Quarter Final picture sees English and French sides winning all five pools and with other English sides missing the cut for the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals there are, in effect, only two nations whose clubs could win the competition. As in previous rounds there was a notable number of players from the Americas in action as the last IRB defined region to host a Rugby World Cup continues to contribute quality players in leading professional competitions.

Pool 1
Biarritz 7-9 Sale
Biarritz was defeated by Toulouse in the 2010 Heienken Cup final but now four years on the club is on the verge of relegation and it is set to lose a host of players to rival French clubs next season. Biarritz is a victim of professionalism catching up with it as other clubs operate on larger budgets and have notably larger cities to support them. The club had a ahance of saving its season by doing well in the Amlin Challenge Cup but now that is over after the Sale Sharks completed a narrow victory. Biarritz can now throw absolutely everything into the Top 14 but in reality the hole in the boat is too large. USA winger Taku Ngwenya was a star in the 2009-2010 Heineken Cup and started again this weekend. Alsi in action was former Pumas tighthead prop Francisco Goméz Kodela who was a replacement.

Worcester 20-13 Oyonnax
It has been a long time coming but at long last the Worcester Warriors have registered a victory this season. The team prepared with Agustín Creevy showcasing asado during the week. The Argentine barbecue may have inspired the team to defeat the French visitors but the result certainly will have given the players much needed confidence to go about winning premiership matches to save itself from relegation. Former Puma Ignacio Mieres started at fly half and kicked four goals while Leonardo Senatore played at the back of the scrum. Former Puma Agustín Figuerola was a replacement scrumhalf for the visitors.

1 Sale Sharks 23
2 Biarritz 16
3 Oyonnax 12
4 Worcester 7

Pool 2
Bath 54-13 Bordeaux
Bath has been enjoying its best season for quite some time and is now one of the title contenders for the Amlin Challenge Cup. In defeating Bordeaux-Begles Bath finish the pool stage undefeated. The win over Bordeaux was an eight tries to one thrashing but occured without all of the three Pumas. Two Argentine players took to the field for Bordeaux-Begles with Joaquín Tuculet playing fullback and former Puma Rafael Carballo starting on the right wing.

Mogliano 12-24 Dragons
The Dragons failed to fire throughout the Amlin Challenge Cup this season but the good news is that the club is in a position that it can challenge for a Semi Final spot in the Rabo Direct Pro 12. With the likes of Leinster, Munster and Ulster all in the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals the Dragons could be well placed to take advantage. Also of note is that the club will lose few players to the Six Nations with only Connacht likely to lose a lower number of players.

1 Bath 28
2 Bordeaux 14
3 Dragons 14 
4 Mogliano 0

Pool 3
Brive 31-9 Calvisano
In the Top 14 Brive has looked steady but it far from being safe as it could very easily see itself in the relegation zone in quick time. The seriousness of this will become increasingly evident as Brive now prepares not only for Top 14 survival but also to fight for a spot in the Amlin Challenge Cup Semi Finals. The coaches will need to play it safe to not bite off more than it can chew.

Newcastle 28-0 Bucharest
The Newcastle Falcons completed a confident boosting home win to head back to the Aviva Premiership in better shape. The club has not been playing well but is afe from relegation so long as the Worcester Warriors continue to lose premiership matches. The opposition side, Bucharest, has delivered this competition to underline the value of the competition for Romanian rugby.

1 Brive 23
2 Newcastle 19
3 Bucharest 10
4 Calvisano 2

Pool 4
Grenoble 34-16 Bayonne
Bayonne is second from the bottom in the Top 14 which means it is facing relegation. It is presently in touch with Oyonnax but needs not only a win to go above it but also for Oyonnax to lose. The trend this season has been for the clubs to swap places and Bayonne will be focused on ensuring it can rise up and save it´s season. A failure to do so would mean both Basque clubs will remarkably be in the Pro d2 next season. The club was happy to throw its match against Grenoble as many reguilar palyers were left out of the team. Martín Bustos Moyano was on the bench.

London Wasps 64-17 Viadana
The London Wasps secured a home Quarter Final against Aviva Premiership rivals Gloucester with a run-away victory over Italian side Arix Viadana on Sunday. Involved for the Wasps were two players from the Americas whom have not recieved a lot of game time since arriving at the club this season. USA centre Andrew Suniula played at inside centre while former Puma Esteban Lozada was a replacement second-rower.

1 London Wasps 
2 Bayonne 15
3 Grenoble 12
4 Viadana  

Pool 5
Lusitanos 15-48 Paris
The Portuguese side enjoyed scoring points against the second place Top 14 side, Stade Français Paris this round. The two tries will help place confidence in the players and with many set for international duty in the upcoming Rugby World Cup qualification matches against Belgium, Georgia, Romania, Russia and Spain the Portuguese national team will have better prepared players than normal. Also set to feature in Rugby World Cup qualifiers is Scott LaValla who will face Uruguay in March. Stade Français will now host a Paris v London match in the Quarter Finals. 

Cavalieri Prato 0-49 London Irish
London Irish misses out on a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup final eight due to Stade Français doing better in the matches between the sides. It, in effect, means that the remainder of the season for the Exiles will be all about the Aviva Premiership. London Irish is in no danger of relegation due to the Worcester Warriors being yet to win a match in the premiership. In the match on Saturday Canadian international Jebb Sinclair featured for the winners while former Pampas XV prop Emiliano Coria started for the Italians. 

1 London Irish 24
2 Paris 24
3 Cavalieri 11
4 Lusitanos 0

Quarter Finals
Bath v Brive
London Wasps v Gloucester
Stade Français Paris v Harlequins
Sale Sharks v Northampton Saints

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