Sunday, February 22, 2015

Guinness Pro 12: Americas Players Review - Round 15

Photo A Pleno Rugby
Fifteen rounds into the season competition for places in the Semi Finals of the Celtic-Italian League is vastly different to that of the Aviva Premiership and Top 14. Only five teams could be said to be targeting a top four finish in the Guinness Pro 12 while in England and France the predictability is proving to be far more notable. The Ospreys is two points outside of the top four while Connacht is two wins behind the Welsh region based on competition points. Seven of the twelve sides are, in other words, struggling. Involved in round 15 were a host of players from the Americas, the only region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup.

Benetton Treviso 40-24 Cardiff Blues
The upcoming departure of Mark Hammett from the Cardiff Blues cannot seemingly come soon enough. The disastrous season has seen the Welsh capital's regional team losing ten and winning just four matches to date in the Pro 12. Consequently it is well off the pace for a place in next season's European Rugby Champions Cup. Former Puma Tomás Vallejos Cinalli and the uncapped Argentine Romulo Acosta were both replacements for Treviso. Current Pumas Lucas González Amorosino (pictured above) and Joaquín Tuculet started for the Cardiff Blues. 

Edinburgh 17-20 Ulster
Despite losing centre Stuart McCloskey to a 52nd mintue red card Ulster were able to produce the required performance to win in Scotland on Friday. The result sees the Northern Irish province remain four points behind Glasgow and thus on track for a home Semi Final. The province will host the final with Belfast having been selected. Uncapped USA prop Callum Black played loosehead prop for Ulster. 

Leinster 29-8 Zebre
Despite both teams missing players during the Six Nations Championship Leinster was too strong for Zebre. Their match in Dublin saw the Irish province moving into the top four joining two other Irish sides and the leaders Glasgow. Argentine Luciano Orquera played fly half and Luciano Leibson was tighthead prop. Orquera is capped by Italy and Leibson is a possible successor to Martín Castrogiovanni, another Argentine player.

Scarlets 25-25 Munster
A 25 all draw in Llanelli on Saturday saw the Scarlets coming closer to catching the top placed Welsh region, the Ospreys. Ulster remain in second position but have Munster and Leinster to contend with. Former Puma Eusebio Guiñazú was Munster's reserve hooker He is chasing a recall to the squad in time for Rugby World Cup 2015. Canadian winger DTH van der Merwe will play for the Scarlets next season. 

Glasgow 19-16 Ospreys
A hard-fought home win by the competition leading Glasgow Warriors on Saturday saw the Ospreys falling outside of the top four for the first time this season. Starting on the left wing was DTH van der Merwe while Canadian captain Tyler Ardron started, out of position, in the second-row for the Ospreys. Former USA junior Hanno Dirksen came off the bench for the Welsh region while Canadian Connor Braid was Glasgow's reserve fly half. 

Dragons 25-30 Connacht
Connacht moved back up to sicth postion by winning away from home earlier today. In the only match of the round played on Sunday the Western Irish province collected four competition points to stay ahead of Welsh region the Scarlets and also edge closer to the fifth placed Ospreys. As it stands Connacht is on course to qualify for the 2015-2016 European Rugby Champions Cup. In claiming a losing bonus point the Newport-Gwent Dragons are now tied with the Cardiff Blues. 

#
Club
Pts
1
Glasgow
52
2
Ulster
48
3
Munster
48
4
Leinster
47
5
Ospreys
45
6
Connacht
37
7
Scarlets
34
8
Edinburgh
33
9
Cardiff
22
10
Dragons
22
11
Treviso
18
12
Zebre
10

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