Sunday, October 26, 2014

Euro Rugby Champions Cup: Americas Players Review Round 2

Photo Made in Rugby
Round two of the European Rugby Championship Cup came to a close earlier this afternoon. The twenty-team competition featured a rare four matches played on a Sunday, two of which were in France. With the competition having four fewer sides than the defunct Heineken Cup it is aimed at having few to none lop-sided matches but after two rounds there is, nonetheless, a gap between those winning and those losing. Teams including Bath, Castres, Montpellier, Ospreys, Sale and Ulster are winless and face certain elimination. Involved in round two were players from Argentina, Canada and Uruguay. The Americas is the only IRB defined region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. Argentina is, nevertheless, the strongest option for hosting the next to-be-allocated tournament in 2023.

Pool 1
Munster 14-3 Saracens
Pool 1 is likely to go down to the wire as three of the four sides can lay claim to meriting a place among the top eight European clubs. A packed Thomond Park witnessed a good performance from the home side and, with it, Munster are well placed after the completion of the first phase of the competition. On the bench was Eusebio Guiñazú who continued to push for a return to Los Pumas. The former first choice hooker came on in the 78th minute for Munster. Marcelo Bosch started at outside centre for Saracens.

Clermont Auvergne 35-3 Sale Sharks
Early on the match was competitive, even after Clermont Auvergne crossed for the first time but as the game unfolded the French side dominated with the Aviva Premiership side failing to suggest it is of the standard of the three other teams in Pool 1. Clermont's bonus points win sees the team sit in second position after having come close to a win in Northern London in round one. Involved against Sale was Canadian veteran Jamie Cudmore who played in the second-row.

Standings
Munster 8
Clermont 6
Saracens 5
Sale Sharks 1

Pool 2
Castres 16-21 Leinster
Irish province Leinster leads Pool 2 after an away victory in Castres earlier today. Castres scored the only try of the match and did so in the opening minutes but Leinster was able to kick itself into the lead after having been 16-12 down after 62 minutes. Starting in Castres' second-row was Uruguayan Rodrigo Capó Ortega while Argentina's Ramiro Herrera played tighthead prop.

Wasps 16-23 Harlequins
The all-English battle saw the Harlequins going two-from-two and with it the London based side sits in first position ahead of Leinster. The match was the final game of the round and one of the last times in which the Wasps will appear at Adams Park. 

Standings
Harlequins 8
Leinster 8
Wasps 2
Castres 1

Pool 3
Ulster 13-23 Toulon
Northern Irish province Ulster is all but eliminated from contention. The Belfast based side lost against two-time Heineken Cup and reigning Top 14 champions and, consequently, are well off the pace and face an near impossible task of qualifying for the play-offs. Involved for Toulon was Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe who left the match in just the third minute with an injury. His fitness will now be monitored but he is expected to miss Argentina's tour of Scotland, Italy and France. Uncapped USA born prop Callum Black was a 53rd minute replacement for Ulster.

Scarlets 15-3 Leicester Tigers
An impressive home victory from the Scarlets sees the Welsh region remaining alive in the European Rugby Champions Cup. The Western Welsh side won the match by two tries to zero and questions are now being raised as to whether this is the worst Leicester side of the past decade. USA winger Blaine Scully started in the same position for Leicester while Argentine prop Marcos Ayerza also did so. Canadian-Italian Robert Barbieri was on the Leicester bench.

Standings
Toulon 8
Scarlets 4
Tigers 4
Ulster 1

Pool 4
Montpellier 13-15 Glasgow Warriors 
Together with the Ospreys the Glasgow Warriors have been the form side of the Guinness Pro 12 so far this season but, unlike the Ospreys, the Glasgow Warriors are undefeated after two rounds of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. Saturday's away victory in France sees the team, tied with Toulouse and pushing for a place in the play-offs. Canadian DTH van der Merwe was a replacement for Glasgow while the USA born Tommy Seymour was a starting winger. Montpellier's Argentine players were not involved.

Bath 19-21 Toulouse
A late rally from Bath saw the English club finishing the match with a bonus point. Bath is, however, in reality already eliminated due to both the Glasgow Warriors and Toulouse having won their two opening fixtures. Argentine outside centre Horacio Agulla played on the left wing for Bath while former Puma Patricio Albacete started in the second-row for Toulouse. 

Standings 
Glasgow 9
Toulouse 8
Montpellier 2
Bath 1

Pool 5 
Northampton Saints 34-6 Ospreys
An extremely impressive performance from Welsh international George North could well have buried the chances of Welsh region the Ospreys in making the play-offs. North's four tries were the only ones of the match. Starting in the back-row was Samu Manoa who is to play against the All Blacks next Saturday in Chicago. Former USA junior Hanno Dirksen started on the left wing for the Ospreys. He is set to be capped by Wales ahead of the World Cup. Also involved was Canadian winger Jeff Hassler who played this match at outside centre. 

Benetton Treviso 10-26 Racing Métro
An away win by Racing Métro sees the French side top of the table in Pool 5 and looking like being odds-on-favorites to win the group. Starting for the French side was Juan Imhoff who, like for Argentina, has been converted to a right winger. Benetton Treviso are now facing the reality of being unable to collect any points in Europe this season. The Italians are also winless so far in the Guinness Pro 12.

Standings
Racing Métro 8
Northampton 5
Ospreys 5
B. Treviso 0

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