Sunday, February 8, 2015

LV= Anglo-Welsh Cup: Americas Players Review - Round 4

Photo Rugby Wrap Up
The final round of the group phase of the LV= Anglo-Welsh Cup was played this weekend in England and Wales and with it the final four teams were confirmed. The four Semi Finalists are all to be English as no Welsh region was able to win in group play. The Semi Finals are to be played on March 14 and the final on March 22 with Leicester v Exeter and Saracens v Northampton being the Semi Finals. The matches this weekend were a further indication of the importance of the Americas to the global game as the only region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup had players in action. Players likely to be involved in Rugby World Cup 2015 for Argentina, Canada and the United States of America were all involved. 

Sale Sharks 38-3 Scarlets
Following Friday night's loss against England Welsh supporters were given a tough Saturday as two of the three matches involving Welsh regions saw the Aviva Premiership teams completing clean wins. The Sale Sharks were far too strong for the Scarlets in one of the matches. Missing was Canadian Phil MacKenzie.

Cardiff Blues 9-43 Leicester Tigers
The Cardiff Blues, like the Scarlets, had a host of questionable selections and with the top players all missing to international duty the team was no match for Leicester. The English side romped to an away victory and did so with USA second-rower Greg Peterson (pictured above) on the bench. Starting for Cardiff were Lucas González Amorosino and Joaquín Tuculet. The latter of the two played out of position at outside centre. By virtue of the result Leicester finished top of Pool 3.

Bath 10-13 Ospreys
The Ospreys ensured one of the Welsh regions would be victorious on Saturday as the team completed an away victory over Bath. The in-form English side was missing a host of players to Six Nations duty as was the Ospreys. Puma Horacio Agulla played the match out of position at fullback while Canadian Tyler Ardron and former USA junior Hanno Dirksen were both on the Ospreys' bench. Agulla picked up an injury in the match.

Gloucester 25-7 Harlequins
The wider roster members of English sides Gloucester and the Harlequins were given a run-out on Saturday in a match won by three tries to one by the home side. The result was not sufficient to see either team reach the Semi Finals of the competition.  

London Irish 13-31 Newcastle Falcons
The Newcastle Falcons finished as the second best side in Pool 3 with a convincing away victory over London Irish on Saturday. Starting at inside centre for Newcastle was uncapped Argentine Juan Pablo Socino. The remaining players from the Americas contracted to the two clubs were not involved. 

Northampton Saints 29-6 Wasps
The Cardiff Blues were made to pay by Northampton as the reigning English champions' home win over the Wasps saw the Welsh region missing out on a place in the Semi Finals. Northampton finished top of Pool 2 to secure a place in the final four. Missing were the club's North American back-rowers. 

Dragons 17-13 London Welsh
Welsh region the Newport Gwent Dragons had the luxury of hosting the only team yet to win a match all season in any of the Aviva Premiership, Guinness Pro 12 or Top 14 tournaments. London Welsh, though, came very close to completing victory after holding a 13-3 half time advantage. The Dragons fought back to claim the win. The win was not sufficient for the Dragons to advance to the final four. Canadian international Richard Thorpe was a starting back-rower for London Welsh.

Saracens 35-18 Exeter Chiefs
A bonus point home win by the London based Saracens on Sunday saw the club top Group 1 to claim a place in the Semi Finals. Many regulars were rested by both teams which saw USA international Hayden Smith getting a start in the second-row. Also involved was USA centre Tretton Palamo who was on the bench. 

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