Sunday, April 6, 2014

Amlin Challenge Cup: Americas Exports Quarter Finals Wrap

Photo The Times
With French clubs RC Toulon and Clermont Auvergne appearing to have a strong chance of facing-off in the Heineken Cup final for the second consecutive year English supporters can be happy in knowing that the Amlin Challenge Cup champion will be English. The Quarter Finals were played from Thursday through Sunday and saw all four Semi Finals places taken by Aviva Premiership sides. Involved were players from the Americas, the last IRB defined region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup.

Sale Sharks 14-28 Northampton Saints
The Sale Sharks went into the fixture in good form. The club from the Greater Manchester area has shot up the standings in the Aviva Premiership in recent times with wins over strong sides including Northampton. The Saints, though, were too strong on Thursday evening and will play in the Semi Finals of the Amlin Challenge Cup. Canadian Phil MacKenzie was on the bench for the Sharks.

Stade Français 6-29 Harlequins
The Saints will meet the Harlequins in the first Semi Final after the London based side was far too strong for a weakened Stade Français side in Paris on Friday. The Gonzalo Quesada coached team has been out of form in recent times and the former Argentine fly half decided to focus on the Top 14 as he selected a team that was notably weaker than what would start a Top 14 play-off. The Quins took the opportunity to complete a comfortable victory and will now face Northampton away in the first Semi Final.

London Wasps 36-24 Gloucester
The second Semi Final is to be hosted by London rivals London Wasps who were too strong for Gloucester on Sunday. With both teams off the pace in the Aviva Premiership but not facing possible relegation they were able to concentrate their resources on the Almin Challenge Cup fixture. 

Bath 39-7 Brive
The Wasps will face Bath in the Semi Final who completed a convincing victory over Top 14 side Brive on Sunday. The star for Bath was former Brive winer Horacio Agulla. The Puma put in his best performance for quite some time in scoring three tries. Agulla spoke about his performance and Los Pumas with ESPN Scrum. He was one of two Pumas involved in the match for Bath as tighthead prop Juan Pablo Orlandi also featured from the bench. Brive fielded an understrength side as the club is in the bottom half of the Top 14 and despite being outside of the relegation zone it cannot take anything for granted. 

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