Sunday, December 28, 2014

Guinness Pro 12: Americas Players Review - Round 11

Photo: Ospreys TV
At the midway point of the Guinness Pro 12's 2014-2015 season there are five teams chasing four Semi Finals places with the remainder either already out of the running altogether or requiring significant alterations. Those at the top are familiar teams with Scotland's Glasgow and Wales' Ospreys joining the Irish provinces of Leinster, Munster and Ulster. The bottom two are Italian sides and without significant progress it is going to remain that way come May 2015. Involved in round eleven were players from both North and South America which provides further reasoning for Argentina to be allocated hosting rights to Rugby World Cup 2023.  

Cardiff Blues 17-23 Dragons
In the first of two Welsh derbies this round the Newport-Gwent Dragons visited and conquered Cardiff. The Boxing Day fixture saw the Cardiff Blues' inconsistent season continue as coach and former All Black Mark Hammett's inability to get results out of his team rumbles on. The manner of the loss was noteworthy as the Dragons were far too strong for over half of the match. Many Blues regulars were rested but Pumas Joaquín Tuculet and Lucas González Amorosino both started. 

Munster 28-13 Leinster
Southern Irish province Munster hosted neighbors and rivals Leinster on Friday and completed a big home win. The three tries to one victory was not enough for a bonus point but it ensured that Leinster would not collect any competition points. On the bench for Munster was former Puma Eusebio Guiñazú. The hooker was not selected at all for international duty in 2014 despite being first choice under Santiago Phelan throughout 2012 and 2013.

Ulster 13-10 Connacht
The third and final Boxing Day fixture was also a derby and it proved to be the most competitive fixture of the day despite reputations. Western Irish province Connacht has arguably turned the corner to close the gap between itself and the other Irish sides. Ulster had a strong side but only won the fixture by a Paddy Jackson penalty in Belfast. Uncapped USA prop Callum Black started at loosehead prop for Ulster. He could yet play for the USA at the World Cup. 

Glasgow Warriors 16-6 Edinburgh
The Scottish derby played on Saturday saw the Glasgow Warriors strong season continue. At the midway point Glasgow is well placed to push for a home Semi Final and the team wll have a chance at collecting a good away win next weekend as Edinburgh hosts the reverse fixture. Starting the match this weekend was Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe on the left wing. van der Merwe is chasing a place in a third Rugby World Cup.  

Ospreys 17-15 Scarlets
A derby match in Swansea on Saturday saw the Osrepys hold on to win against the Scarlets by two points. The Ospreys were unable to score any points in the second half but nonetheless won by two tries to zero. Starting at the back of the scrum was Canadian captain Tyler Ardron while former USA junior Hanno Dirksen was a starting winger. Dirksen turned down selection for the USA at Rugby World Cup 2011. He is looking to play for Wales at Rugby World Cup 2015. 

Zebre 16-26 Benetton Treviso
The Italian derby played on Sunday marked the end of round eleven. It was a home match for Zebre at Parma but rather than capitalize on home advantage Benetton Treviso won for the first time all season. The win was not enough to get off the bottom of the table but the team ahs doubled its points and is now just one behind Zebre. On the bench for Zebre was Argentine Luciano Orquera who is a capped fly half for Italy.

#
Club
Pts
1
Ospreys
40
2
Glasgow Warriors
39
3
Munster
37
4
Ulster
35
5
Leinster
32
6
Connacht
28
7
Scarlets
24
8
Edinburgh
20
9
Cardiff Blues
18
10
Dragons
16
11
Zebre
09
12
Benetton Treviso
08

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