Sunday, September 7, 2014

Guinness Pro 12: Americas Players Review - Round 1

Photo Benetton Treviso
The rebranded Celtic-Italian league got underway this weekend with six league matches being played in Ireland, Italy, Scotland and Wales. With the new European competition now requiring teams to qualify based on performance and not nationality all competition points are now vital. In seasons gone by teams, particularly Irish provinces, have tended to rest players and have them fresh for duty in the former Heineken Cup. As in previous seasons players from the Americas are involved in the competition.  


Ospreys 44-13 Benetton Treviso
Welsh region the Ospreys is a team expected to be involved in the Semi Finals at the end of the season. The Swansea based team has a notable list of Welsh internationals and also has players from other nations including Canada. Starting against the Italians was Jeff Hassler who scored a second half try. Also crossing was the uncapped Hanno Dirksen who turned down an offer from the USA to play for the country his family moved to when he was in school. Former Puma Tomás Vallejos Cinalli started in the back-row for Benetton Treviso.

Munster 13-14 Edinburgh
The decision of Irish province Munster to continue with the policy of giving preference to Europe and not the Pro 12 may need to now change. With Edinburgh not having qualified for Europe this season the Scottish side will be able to prioritize the Pro 12 and, consequently, be stronger than in previous seasons. Based on round one the Scottish capital side could do well. Former Puma Tomás Leonardí started in the second-row for the Scots.

Connacht 16-11 Dragons
The battle between the weakest Irish and Welsh teams saw the home side winning a low scoring encounter in Galway. Neither side has the same representation of test players are side from the same nations but the Dragons have, nonetheless, got former Welsh players back from abroad including Lee Byrne and Aled Brew.

Glasgow Warriors 22-20 Leinster
A rare 2-0 Scottish victory was completed with the Glasgow Warriors defeating last season's Pro 12 champions at home on Saturday. The final minute victory was against a Leinster side lacking a number of players. The USA born Tommy Seymour started for the Scottish side. He is set to play for Scotland v USA in next year's Rugby World Cup. 

Scarlets 32-32 Ulster
Controversial Welsh outside back Liam Williams found himself in trouble again. The player responsible for Wales failing to defeat South Africa in June was red carded three minutes from full time and with him off Ian Humphreys kicked Ulster to a draw. Uncapped Callum Black, of the USA, started in the front-row for Ulster. Black could yet play for the USA at the World Cup. 

Zebre 26-41 Cardiff Blues
Played in very hot conditions in Parma Zebre was looking to ensure that all four member countries of the Guinness Pro 12 would win matches in the opening round. At half time Zebre was in with a chance but with the Cardiff Blues dominating the second Zebre joined Benetton Treviso as the only team with no competition points after one round. A number of Argentine players who have been capped by Italy started including Luciano Orquera, Matias Aguero and Gonzalo Garcia. Luciano Leibson was on the bench. 

1
Ospreys
5
2
Cardiff Blues
5
3
Connacht
4
4
Glasgow Warriors
4
5
Edinburgh
4
6
Scarlets
3
7
Ulster
3
8
Munster
1
9
Leinster
1
10
Dragons
1
11
Zebre
0
12
Benetton Treviso
0

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