Saturday, March 1, 2014

Rabo Direct Pro 12 Americas Exports - Round 16 Wrap

Photo BBC: Hassler continued his
fine form for the Ospreys on Friday
The sixteenth round of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 was played on Friday and Saturday with matches taking place in Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. Involved were players from a number of nations including Argentina, Canada and the USA. The Americas continues to be the only IRB defined region yet to be allocated a Rugby World Cup but both North and South America continue to have players involved in the leading professional rugby competitions. 

Edinburgh 31-25 Ospreys
Scottish side Edinburgh has little more to play for this season. The team will not feature in the Heineken Cup Quarter Finals and nor will it be involved in the play-offs of the Rabo Direct Pro 12. So far behind is the Scottish side that it will need for those above itself in the standings to lose matches against the likes of Connacht, Treviso and Zebre if it is to stand any chance of reaching the final four. The team hosted Ospreys away from Murrayfield due to the dire state of the pitch at the home of Scottish rugby. Involved for the home side were two South Americans. Former Puma Tomás Leonardí was on the bench while the uncapped Argentine Joaquín Domínguez played the final quarter as a replacement. Canadian Jeff Hassler started for the Ospreys and scored both of the team´s tries. Former USA junior Hanno Dirksen started on the other wing while Canadian back-rower Tyler Ardron played in the second-row.

Ulster 38-8 Dragons
Norther Irish province Ulster had few problems in dispatching the Newport-Gwent Dragons on Friday evening. The bonus point victory further underlines the team as a title contender while it questions the policy of too may sides in the competition of frequently selecting players who are not first choice in their positions. While it allows for Six Nations matches to have fresher players it has a negative impact on the Rabo Direct Pro 12, a competition which lacks a sponsor for next season. Uncapped USA prop Callum Black started the match for the Northern Irish side in the front-row.

Zebre 15-10 Cardiff
Italian side Zebre recorded a third win of the season and made it a double against the Cardiff Blues. Zebre was the superior side on the day and deserved the win;The result, nonetheless, questions the policies of teams in the Rabo Direct Pro 12. With there being no danger of relegation it is common for sides to field weakened line-ups for league matches. Involved for Zebre were Argentine players Matias Aguero and Luciano Orquera who are both capped by Italy. Dave Ryan is uncapped and could play for the USA. He was a replacement for the Italians. Orquera kicked a second half penalty.

Connacht 38-6 Treviso
Benetton Treviso had a rare opportunity to make it an Italian double as the stronger of the two Italian teams played away to Connacht in Galway. But with Treviso missing far too many players to the Italian test squad and Connacht having only Robbie Henshaw in Ireland´s thirty-three man Six Nations squad the western Irish province was able to complete a comfortable victory. Involved as replacements for Benetton Treviso were three players from the Americas. The Canadian-Italian Robert Barbieri was a replacement back-rower while Ignacio Fernández Rouyet and Franco Sbaraglini were covering the front-row. Treviso won the reverse fixture comfortably earlier in the season.

Scarlets 18-13 Munster
With Ulster and Connacht both winning and Leinster expected to also win Munster had an opportunity to complete a perfect round of Rabo Direct Pro 12 matches for the Irish provinces. Playing away against the Scarlets in Llanelli Munster was out scored by two tries to one and as a result has dropped in the standings.

Leinster 28-25 Glasgow
The best Irish province hosted the best Scottish side in the final match of the round on Saturday evening in Dublin. It was an important fixture with an eye to the play-offs and with Leinster collecting four competition points the province overtakes Munster as the leader in the Rabo Direct Pro 12. The Glasgow Warriors remain in fifth position, three points behind the Ospreys but the Scottish side has two matches in hand. Starting for the Warriors was the USA born Scottish international Tommy Seymour.

1 Leinster 59
2 Munster 58
3 Ulster 50
4 Ospreys 46
5 Glasgow 43
6 Scarlets 36
7 Dragons 28
8 Edinburgh 28
9 Connacht 27
10 Cardiff 24 
11 Treviso 20
12 Zebre 18

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