Saturday, April 12, 2014

Rabo Direct Pro 12: Americas Exports Round 19 Wrap

Photo Wales Online
Canadian Jeff Hassler
With changes in the qualifying laws for European competition having been implemented for what is to replace the Heineken Cup there is, at long last, reason for teams to take the Rabo Direct Pro 12 as seriously as English and French sides do in the Aviva Premiership and the Top 14. Indeed, the likes of the Scarlets, Cardiff Blues, Edinburgh, Connacht and Zebre are no longer assured of their places in the competition. Of these sides only the Scarlets would appear to have any real chance of playing in the 2014-2015 season of the new European competition. In round 19 there were upsets and there were players from the Americas, the final IRB identified region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup. 

Ulster 58-12 Connacht
Ulster may well may been eliminated from the Heineken Cup last weekend but the Northern Irish province still has a llot to play for this season. Ulster responded to the loss against Saracens by humiliating the western neighbor, Connacht on Friday. So impressive was Ulster that the result was secured very early on with a bonus point earned in the 25th minute. 

Ospreys 25-19 Leinster
After a great early try from Canadian winger Jeff Hassler the Ospreys were able to hold on to defeat Irisih province Leinster on Friday evening. It was not enough for the Welsh region to break into the top four but the side does continue to be the top placed Welsh region and is far from being out of contention. Hassler started on the wing and scored the only try of the match for the winning team. Also involved for former USA junior Hanno Dirksen who came off the bench. He is in contention for a place at Rugby World Cup 2015 for Wales. 

Edinburgh 22-29 Cardiff
The Cardiff Blues completed a great Friday evening for Welsh rugby as the capital´s region went to Scotland and won. It was a crucial result for the greater good of Wales as Edinburgh is all that is standing in the way of the Scarlets and Europe. Neither of Edinburgh´s Argentine players were involved in the match.

Treviso 45-27 Dragons
The Newport-Gwent Dragons started the season very strongly but has been unable to continue and is now drifting closer to the bottom of the standings. It currently sts just two points ahead of Benetton Treviso and could also see itself overtaken by Zebre. Treviso´s bonus point win involved Robert Barbieri. The Italian capped Canadian started in the back-row. Former Italian international Ignacio Fernández Rouyet from Argentina was on the bench.

Scarlets 27-20 Zebre
A home win for the Scarlets on Saturday further increases the chances of the Llanelli based Welsh region securing qualification for Europe. The Welsh region is now well placed but should not be happy about how the match was played. The Italian visitors outscored the Scarlets by three tries to two and was not at full strength. The Welsh region, in contrast, had the likes of Rhys Priestland, Jonathan Davies, Josh Turnball, Aaron Shingler, Jake Ball and Liam Williams all playing. Involved for Zebre were the Argentine players capped by Italy Gonzalo Garcia, and Luciano Orquera.

Munster 5-22 Glasgow
Similar to Leinster the night before an Irish side expected to win was unable to do so. With the Ospreys closing in on a place in the play-offs ahead of the Glasgow Warriors the Scottish side responded by defeating the Southern Irish province in an impressive manner. Also similar to Leinster was the make-up of the Munster side as the team was not the strongest possible. Involved for the winning Gloucester Warriors was Tommy Seymour who was born and raised in the USA but plays at the international level for Scotland. Seymour could well face the USA in addition to Canada, Argentina and South Africa this coming June.

Glasgow Warriors
Cardiff Blues
Benetton Treviso

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