Sunday, January 18, 2015

European Rugby Challenge Cup: Americas Players Review Round 5

Photo World Cup 7s
The fifth round of six in the 2014-20145 European Rugby Champions Cup was played over the weekend. With one round yet to play the team's advancing to the play-offs are almost confirmed. Four of the pool winners will host the Quarter Finals and it is the Exeter Chiefs, Gloucester, London Irish, the Newport-Gwent Dragons who are the best placed to do so. Involved were players from the world over including the Americas which is the only continental region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. This can change by making Argentina 2023 a reality. Rugby World Cup 2015 will feature four teams from the Americas and of them three had players involved this weekend in the European Rugby Challenge Cup.  

London Irish 43-41 Grenoble
An outstanding rugby match in Reading, England saw ten tries being scored on Saturday afternoon. With London Irish winning the team is tied for first place with the Cardiff Blues. Canadian Jebb Sinclair started for London Irish in the second-row. 

Cardiff Blues 104-12 Rovigo
Pool ''s other match was played in the Welsh capital on Friday evening and saw the Blues humiliate Italian visitors Rovigo as they scored over 100 points. The scoreline questions the viability of Europe's Tier Two club competition and follows heavy criticism from Top 14 sides. Cardiff's win was without a number of regular players including Pumas Joaquín Tuculet and Lucas González Amorosino. Argentine Luciano Rodriguez played fly half for Rovigo.

Pool 1
London Irish  19
Cardiff Blues  19
Grenoble 12
Rovigo 01

Connacht 24-33 Exeter Chiefs 
Connacht hosted Exeter in the final match of the round. In what was the only Sunday match the western Irish province. At home Connacht was expected to win given the form of the province in the Guinness Pro 12. Exeter, though, played well to win on the road to go five points clear at the top of pool 2.

Bayonne 14-0 La Rochelle
Two French clubs facing relegation faced-off on Saturday in a match of minimal consequence to either club.  Going into the match the best a win could do for either was put the team in third position. With there being a break between Top 14 fixtures some experimentation took place with both teams. Bayonne nonetheless gave some regulars starts which included former Puma Martín Bustos Moyano and Santiago Fernández at fullback and fly half. Bustos Moyano kicked two goals.

Pool 2
Exeter Chiefs 20
Connacht  15
Bayonne 9
La Rochelle 4 

Paris 47-12 Bucharest
Stade Français completed a home bonus point win on Saturday afternoon to collect five competition points. The policy, though, of the Gonzalo Quesada coached club in earlier rounds of throwing European Challenge Cup matches means that it remains in third position well behind the leading team from Wales. Puma Juan Cruz Guillemaín started in the seconr-row for the Parisians.

Newcastle Falcons 29-40 Newport-Gwent Dragons
Welsh region the Newport Gwent Dragons lead Pool 3 and appear set for a rare appearance in the play-offs of any competition. The Dragons impressed in Northern England by defeating third from bottom in the Aviva Premiership, the Newcastle Falcons on Saturday. Involved in the match as replacements for the home team were two players from the Americas - Eric Fry and Juan Pablo Socino. The latter of the two scored a try.

Pool 3 
Dragons 21
Newcastle 16
Paris 15
Bucharest 01

Bordeaux-Begles 26-3 London Welsh
Bordeaux-Begles is not overly interested in the European Rugby Challenge Cup due to it having fought off relegation in previous years and this season being well placed for a potential appearance in the Top 14 barrage. London Welsh, meanwhile, remain winless all season and continue to be heading for the record books for the worst professional rugby team playing in an elite competition in history. Starting at tighthead prop for Bordeaux-Begles was former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela. Canadian international Richard Thorpe played in the back-row for London Welsh.

Lyon 21-19 Edinburgh
Edinburgh was dealt a major blow on Saturday evening as the Scottish capital side failed to defeat Lyon's reserve team in France. Lyon had rested regular players including Pumas Juan Manuel Leguizamón and Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro. Edinburgh, on the other hand, was far closer to being at full strength as some of Scotland' best players including Alaisdair Dickinson, Matt Scott, David Denton and Tim Visser started. Edinburgh will nosw hsot Bordeaux next weekend with the winning qualifying for the play-offs.

Pool 4 
Edinburgh 17
Bordeaux 16
Lyon 14
London Welsh 0 

Zebre 23-13 Brive
Italian side Zebre completed a home win on Saturday to finish maintain its position of third place in Pool 5. The result keeps Brive winless in the competition this season but with it being one of a number of French sides facing possible relegation it has been happy to field depleted teams in the Challenge Cup. Argentine Luciano Orquera kicked five goals for Zebre. He is capped by Italy as Matías Aguero who was on the bench.

Gloucester 33-3 Oyonnax
Gloucester is heading for the play-offs. The English side remains undefeated in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. While it is placed in a similar position in the Aviva Premiership to that of Oyonnax in the Top 14 Oyonnax is not far above the relegation zone unlike Gloucester who has the advantage of playing in a competition with only one relegated team and that competition features London Welsh. With Oyonnax focused on staying in the Top 14 the team's top players were rested. This meant Benjamín Urdapilleta and Agustín Figuerola both missed the match.

Pool 5 
Gloucester 24
Oyonnax 12
Zebre 08
Brive 02

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