Sunday, March 30, 2014

Rabo Direct Pro 12: Americas Exports Round 18 Wrap

Photo The Scotsman
The seriousness of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 as a professional product was again questioned this weekend as a number of teams continued with the policy of not putting out their best players. A number of leading international players were missing including Scottish goalkicker Greig Laidlaw who has been given five weeks rest time. The scrumhalf will leave Edinburgh at the end of the current season to play in England but with Edinburgh so far outside of contention for the play-offs he may have played his last match for the Scottish capital side. While many European stars were missing there were players from the Americas on show as the last IRB defined region to host a Rugby World Cup continues to be a major playing in the European professional game.
Glasgow Warriors 11-9 Ospreys
The Glasgow Warriors and the Ospreys are both chasing a place in the Semi Finals and with the top three spots all occupied by Irish provinces it is highly likely that it will not be possible for both teams to play in the play-offs. Glasgow´s victory was therefore of extreme importance and with the Scottish side also having had matches postponed the Warriors are now well placed. Starting for Glasgow was USA born and raised Tommy Seymour who is capped by Scotland. Future Welsh international Hanno Dirksen started in the mid-field for the Ospreys. He is a former junior USA representative and played for the senior side v Munster in a non-international. Canadian Jeff Hassler started for the Ospreys.

Zebre 25-25 Dragons
A back and forth contest in Parma ended in a 25-25 draw on Saturday afternoon. With Edinburgh failing to win against Benetton Treviso the Newport Gwent Dragons have now caught up to the Scottish capital side in the standings. Zebre remain bottom of the table but were able to collect two competition points to continue with what is a much better season than 2012-2013 was and also better than Aironi managed in the sides two years in the Pro 12. Involved in the fixture for Zebre was USA eligible prop Dave Ryan and three Argentine players capped by Italy including Luciano Orquera, Gonzalo Garcia and Matías Aguero.

Benetton Treviso 20-16 Edinburgh
Benetton Treviso has not been having a good season. The Italian side is ahead of only Zebre in the Rabo Direct Pro 12´s standings but there is reason to believe that the club can finish higher. Similar to Zebre Benetton Treviso fielded Argentine players capped by Italy with Alberto di Bernardo, Ignacio Fernández Rouyet involved. Also featuring was Canadian Robert Barbieri who is also capped by Italy. Former Puma Tomás Leonardí was on the bench for Edinburgh. He may well face both Ireland and Scotland in June.

Leinster 22-18 Munster
A special derby occassion in Dublin as the home of Irish rugby, the Aviva Stadium was utilized for the biggst game in Irish rugby. The home side came out on top and with it Leinster reinforced its position at the top of the standings. With Ulster also failing to win Leinster is now five points clear at the top.

Cardiff Blues 28-23 Ulster
An upset result took place in the Welsh capital on Saturday. With the Cardiff Blues having stuggled this season and also missing players to injury a strong, but not full strength, Ulster lineup was expected to win, Instead, however, the Blues won a thriller with Gareth Davies having an outstanding match with the boot. USA eligible prop Callum Black was not involved for the Northern Irish province.

Scarlets 32-30 Connacht
The round came to a close on Sunday afternoon with a match in Western Wales in which the over performing Connacht very nearly collected another scalp.The western Irish province has been enjoying better than normal results throughout the season but will not be involved in the play-offs. Scarlets is a side usually in contention but the end of the season cannot come soon enough for the Llanelli based side. 

Standings
1 Leinster 68
2 Munster 63
3 Ulster 60
4 Ospreys 52
5 Glasgow 51
6 Scarlets 41
7 Connacht 34
8 Dragons 30
9 Edinburgh 30
10 Cardiff 28
11 Treviso 24
12 Zebre 20

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