Sunday, May 11, 2014

Rabo Direct Pro 12: Americas Exports Final Round Wrap

Photo Welsh Rugby Pics
Leinster and the Glasgow Warriors finished the regular season of the Rabo Direct Pro 12 as the top two teams and, as such, will host the Semi Finals next weekend. With both Ireland and Scotland set to play in the Americas next month this has implications on the naming of the touring squads. Ireland is to have three teams in the Semi Finals with Glasgow being the fourth. No Welsh or Italian side has been able to quality. 

Ospreys 45-20 Connacht
Canada's two Ospreys players are both expected to be facing Scotland in Toronto next month and both faced Connacht. Jeff Hassler continued his fine form which saw him named in the 2013-2014 Rabo Direct Pro 12 Dream Time as the best right winger in the league this season. Hassler crossed for the first try of the match while Tyler Ardron was a replacement second-rower in the second-half. Former USA junior Hanno Dirksen started on the left wing. 

Munster 17-19 Ulster
The all-Irish battle of the round saw an understrength Ulster team knock-over a battling performing Munster to ensure it finished with more competition points than the Ospreys. Involved for Ulster was uncapped USA front-rower Callum Black who played the match for the Northern Irish province at tighthead prop. Black remains a possible selection for the USA and could indeed play at Rugby Wordl Cup 2015 for his cuontry unless Ireland seek to cap him this year. 

Leinster 15-13 Edinburgh
Irish province Leinster completed a narrow victory to secure first place in the Rabo Direct Pro 12 regular season. Leinster will now host Ulster in an all-Irish battle next Saturday but need to play considerably better if it is to advance to the Celtic-Italian League final. Leinster was scoreless in the final quarter and came close to losing against Edinburgh whose dreadful season is now over.

Former Puma Tomás Leonardí started in the back-row for Edinburgh. The Buenos Aires product is in contention for a place in the June test squad but is up against some young promising options still based at home and the likes of Pablo Matera and Benjamín Macome who joined Leicester and Stade Français this season. 

Glasgow Warriors 54-0 Zebre
Scotland's capital city side will play host to Munster at Scotstoun Stadium on Friday in the first Semi Final. the Glasgow Warriors earned the right to host the Semi Final by defeating Italian side Zebre in a devastating manner to finish one bonus point win ahead of the thid placed Munster. As such Glasgow is the only non-Irish side in the play-offs.

The Glasgow Warriors' players from the Americas were not involved in the fixture. Zebre had a number from the Western Hemisphere though with Mendoza mid-fielder Gonzalo Garcia, capped thirty-three tiems by Italy starting at inside centre. Matias Aguera, also from Argentina, was a replacement front-rower while the USA eligible Dave Ryan joined him as as a reserve prop.

Scarlets 27-15 Cardiff Blues
The underwhelming season of the Cardiff Blues finished on a low as the capital city's region finished closer to the bottom of the table than it did to the play-offs. It will not be a part of the European Champions Cup but the Scarlets will, joining the Ospreys to give Wales two sides. Ireland will have three, while Scotland and Italy will have only one each. 

Newport Gwent Dragons 20-19 Benetton Treviso
Heading into the fixture Italy's representative in the European Champions Cup was to be Zebre due to Benetton Treviso failing to impress in the second half of the season. Zebre's shocking performance against Glasgow offered a light to Benetton Treviso - should the club secure competition points either by winning or colecting a bonus point it would overtake Zebre. 

The narrow contest was won by the Welsh region with Jason Tovey landing a late penalty to put the Dragons two points clear. With the Dragons then holding on it went above Irish province Connacht to finish in 9th while Benetton Treviso ended one point ahead of Zebre to qualify for Europe. Italian international Alberto di Bernardo, who is from Argentina, played fly half for Treviso and landed three penalties. Ignacio Fernández Rouyet, also capped by Italy but from Argentina, also got game time.

Glasgow Warriors
Cardiff Blues
NG Dragons
Benetton Treviso

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