Sunday, December 14, 2014

Euro Rugby Champions Cup: Americas Players Review Round 4

Photo ESPN Scrum
Round four of the European Rugby Champions Cup took place this weekend. As it stands France has four Quarter Finalists, England three and Ireland one. The chances of Italy, Scotland or Ireland having a team in the final eight are all very slim but there are opportunities for a number of sides currently behind to make it to the final eight. The presence of players from the Americas in the Quarter Finals remains to be seen but in Round 4 it was notable with tries scored by players from Argentina and the USA.  The Americas is the only region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. Argentina wants to host the tournament in 2023 with former captain Agustín Pichot heavily involved. 

Clermont Auvergne 26-19 Munster
Clermont Auvergne sit top of the table and appear odds-on-favorites to win pool 1. The central French sides remaining fixtures are at home against Saracens and away against Sale Sharks. Jamie Cudmore produced an impressive performance with the Canadian being a solid defender and working well at clearing rucks. He is set to play in a fourth Rugby World Cup next year. Former Puma Eusebio Guiñazú was on the bench for Munster.

Saracens 28-15 Sale Sharks
With back-to-back wins over the Sale Sharks the Greater London side Saracens is now back in a strong position to push for a play-offs spot. Involved in the match for the winners was USA fullback Chris Wyles who played the match at outside centre.

Pool 1
Clermont 14
Munster 10
Saracens 9
Sale Sharks 2

Leinster 14-13 Harlequins
A slender victory by Leinster in Dublin on Saturday evening sees the Irish province share the lead with the London based Harlequins. Both sides remain well strong contenders for a play-offs appearance as do the Wasps who faced Castres on Sunday.

Wasps 44-17 Castres
A farewell goodbye to Adams Park saw the Wasps romp to an impressive victory over the Top 14's  bottom placed side Castres. The French team rested regular players which saw no involvement from the club's South American players. Despite winning big the club is not likely to advance. It must now wni against the Harlequins and Leinster.

Pool 2 
Harlequins 13
Leinster 13
Wasps 12
Castres 1

Scarlets 22-13 Ulster
The western Welsh region the Scarlets are now tied for second with the Leicester Tigers after defeating Ulster on Sunday in the final match of the round. The status of the standings in pool 3 is such that only the winner would appear likely to advance to the Quarter Finals. Involved for Ulster was uncapped USA prop Callum Black who could play for the USA at the World Cup.

Toulon 23-8 Leicester Tigers
Back-to-back Heineken Cup winners Toulon took firm control of Pool 3 on Saturday with a home win over Leicester. Having last weekend Toulon recovered to get five competition points out of the two matches against Leicester while the Tigers managed four. Involved for Toulon was Nicolás Sánchez who played fly half while his Argentine test teammate, Marcos Ayerza, played loosehead prop for Leicester. Also starting was American Blaine Scully who scored Leicester's only try.

Pool 3
Toulon 13
Leicester 8 
Scarlets 8
Ulster 6

Bath 32-12 Montpellier
Bath completed back-to-back wins over Montpellier with a bonus point home victory on Friday.  The win keeps the English club in the competition despite it having lost against Glasgow and Toulouse in the opening rounds. Puma Horacio Agulla scored the crucial fourth try which saw Bath collect a bonus point. He was a second half replacement.

Glasgow Warriors 9-12 Toulouse
The club representing France's fourth largest city, Toulouse, remains undefeated following a three point victory in a tryless encounter in Scotland. The result means the Top 14 side is in firm control of the pool and can win it with a game in hand. The Scottish international from Tennessee, Tommy Seymour, played on the wing for Glasgow but Canadian international DTH an der Merwe was not involved. Former Puma Patricio Albacete remains sidelined through injury. 

Pool 4 
Toulouse 12
Bath 10
Glasgow 9
Montpellier 2

Racing Métro 18-14 Ospreys
French side Racing Métro relocated their home fixture against the Ospreys to Le Mans. The policy has taken place in previous years with Racing Métro hosting Saracens in Nantes last season. The Top 14 club held a 15-0 halftime lead but played poorly in the second half with the Welsh region fighting back to score two tries after the interval. Puma Juan Imhoff scored the opening try of the game while Canada and the USA also had players involved. Tyler Ardron played at the back of the scru for Ospreys and former USA junior Hanno Dirksen was, like Imhoff, a starting winger.

Northampton Saints 67-0 Benetton Treviso
Italian side Benetton Treviso remain winless this season and have not been able to justify playing in the European Rugby Champions Cup. With the team being there based on nationality and not merit there could be calls for further changes to that of the former Heineken Cup format which favored Pro 12 sides over English and French clubs. Northampton's run-on side for the match was below full-strength. Samu Manoa was a reserve for the fixture and the American stared by scoring a hat-trick. Cam Dolan was not involved but former Puma Tomás Vallejos Cinalli was a replacement for Treviso as was the uncapped Romulo Acosta.

Pool 5
Northampton 15
Racing Métro 14
Ospreys 8
Treviso 0

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