Sunday, January 25, 2015

European Champions Cup: Americas Players Review Round 6

Image Rugbynistere
The group stages of the 2014-2015 European Rugby Champions Cup came to a close this afternoon and with it the Quarter Finalists were confirmed. French teams Clermont, Toulon and Racing Métro are to host three of the four matches with Irish province Leinster hosting the other. All four visiting teams are to be English. The Quarter Finals are to have a strong representation of players from the Americas just like was the case this weekend. The Americas is the only region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. Argentina is interested in hosting and has the means to do so in 2023. Europe will host a fourth World Cup in 2015. 

Clermont Auvergne 18-6 Saracens 
Clermont Auvernge finished top of Pool 1 thanks to defeating Saracens at home on late Sunday afternoon. The result sets up a home Quarter Final for Clermont against the Northampton Saints. Saracens' loss was still enough to qualify due to the capitulation of Toulouse. Saracens will face Racing Métro away. Clermont's home win was by two tries to zero but was without Canadian Jamie Cudmore who was injured. Chris Wyles played outside centre for Saracens.

Munster 65-10 Sale Sharks 
Irish province Munster completed a bonus point home win on Sunday to finish within two competition points of Saracens. It made up somewhat for the performance of the southern Irish province last weekend but was, nonetheless, a dead rubber. The win featured former Puma Eusebio Guiñazú who played replacement hooker.

Pool 1
Clermont 22
Saracens 17
Munster 15
Sale Sharks 2 

Castres 19-47 Harlequins 
Snowy and wet conditions greeted the teams in southern France on Saturday afternoon. This did not deter the Harlequins from playing attacking, aggressive rugby. With Castres played at the bottom of the Top 14 the club has no interest in the European Rugby Champions Cup this season and it again was apparent on against the Quins. Uruguayan Rodrigo Capó Ortega was on the bench while Argentina Ramiro Herrera played tighthead prop.

Wasps 20-20 Leinster 
The recently relocated Wasps had an opportunity to seal a guaranteed Quarter Finals spot on Saturday as it hosted Irish province Leinster. A win for the home side would have seen the now Coventry based team top Pool 2. Instead it obtained two competition points as did Leinster which sees the Irish side winning the pool and being the only Guinness Pro 12 side in the final eight of Europe. Leinster will host a Quarter Final while Wasps will play away in France.

Pool 2 
Leinster 20
Wasps 18
Harlequins 18
Castres 01

Ulster 26-7 Leicester Tigers
Northern Irish province Ulster eliminated the Leicester Tigers on Saturday with a comprehensive home victory. It was not enough though to change the fortunes of Ulster who will also not be involved in the Quarter Finals. Puma Marcos Ayerza played loosehead prop for the Tigers while uncapped USA prop Callum Black did so for for Ulster. Canadian Robert Barbieri was a replacement for Leicester. He is capped by Italy.

Scarlets 3-26 Toulon
Toulon entered the final already already assured of its place in the final eight. The Scarlets also knew that they would not be involved in the play-offs. Toulon started the match with a roar leading 16-0 at the beginning of the second quarter. Puma Nicolás Sánchez landed a drop goal from fly half. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe made his comeback from injury in the match appearing in the 55th minute from the bench. Also from Argentina was Italian capped prop Martín Castrogiovanni. Toulon will host the Wasps in the Quarter Finals.

Pool 3
Toulon 22
Leicester 13 
Ulster 12 
Scarlets 8

Montpellier 27-26 Toulouse 
Montpellier's winless campaign until today was based on the team's struggles in the Top 14. In order to remain competitive in the French competition Montpellier put effort into Top 14 matches and not so into the European Rugby Champions Cup. Montpellier held an early lead before Toulouse responded to hold a 13-6 half time advantage. Toulouse was thus un a strong position to seal a place in the Quarter Finals but the former giants of French rugby fell apart. Former Puma Patricio Albacete played second-row for Toulouse.

Bath Glasgow Warriors 
Playing away in England the Glasgow Warriors started strongly by scoring an early try and held a 7-6 half time lead. The Scottish side was close to winning and to reaching the play-offs but Bath hit back to secure a place in the final 8. Involved was Puma Horacio Agulla and Canadian DTH van der Merwe. Tennessee's Tommy Seymour, who plays for Scotland, also featured. Bath will face Leinster in an away Quarter Final.

Pool 4 
Bath 19
Toulouse 17
Glasgow 15 
Montpellier 2

Benetton Treviso 23-20 Ospreys 
A first win of the competition for Benetton Treviso saw the Welsh region left embarrassed on Saturday afternoon. both teams scored three tries each but it was Treviso's final minute penalty try which saw the Italians coming out on top. Captaining the Ospreys was Canadian Tyler Ardron who played number eight while former USA junior Hanno Dirksen was also involved, playing outside centre. Dirksen turned down playing for the USA at Rugby World Cup 2011 despite having already played for the senior side in a non-capped match v Munster. He did so to focus on being selected for Wales but remains uncapped.

Northampton Saints 8-32 Racing Métro 
Played at the same time was a match in Franklin's Gardens, the historic home of the Northampton Saints. The fixture was built as a match for the winner to earn a home Quarter Final. A win for Racing Métro would see the French side qualify for the knock-out stages for the first time and this is what eventuated as an Argentine winger stared by scoring two tries, one either side of half time. Indeed Juan Imhoff continued his strong form for Racing Métro and did so by facing-off against George North who is arguably the best winger playing club rugby in Europe. Involved for the Saints was Samu Manoa who played number 8.

Pool 5
Racing Métro 23   
Northampton 19   
Ospreys 9
Treviso 4

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