Sunday, March 29, 2015

Guinness Pro 12: Americas Exports - Round 18

Photo Talking Rugby
Placed in between the completion of the Six Nations Championship and the Quarter Finals of the European Rugby Champions Cup was a round of European professional club rugby. This saw many teams in the Celtic-Italian league fielding depleted lineups due to them having had detailed lists of players heavily involved in the Six Nations. There were nonetheless many imported international players in action including players from Argentina, Canada and the USA. They represent the only World Rugby defined region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. This could change by Argentina having the honor of staging the event in 2023. 

Leinster 34-34 Glasgow Warriors
A strong first half showing in Dublin saw Scottish side the Glasgow Warriors holding a commanding half time lead against Leinster on Friday. The Irish province though fought back to complete a late draw and with it remain in touch with the top four. Glasgow holds onto top spot but ought to be higher given it had been twenty points ahead at the interval. Canadian DTH van der Merwe was a starting winger for Glasgow while the USA born Tommy Seymour also started. Canadian fly half Connor Braid was a replacement.  

Ulster 26-17 Cardiff Blues
A home win by Northern Irish province Ulster on Friday sees the team closing the gap on leaders Glasgow. With the home ground of Ulster having been selected to host the Guinness Pro 12 final the province is well placed to have a home Semi Final and Final. Involved in the win was uncapped USA prop Callum Black while Argentine winger Lucas González Amorosino played on the left wing for the Welsh region. 

Scarlets 15-26 Edinburgh
With the Pro 12 having undergone changes in how it's teams qualify for Europe the Scarlets v Edinburgh fixture was of immense importance. Teams need to finish in the top six and Edinburgh is now tied with Irish province Connacht. The Scarlets are three points behind meaning only the Ospreys could be representing Wales next season in the European Rugby Champions Cup. 

Munster 42-20 Connacht
Well placed for a Semi Final position is Ireland's southern province Munster. The team's big home win on Saturday sees the team six points ahead of the fifth placed Leinster and therefore has a safety net. Former Puma Eusebio Guiñazú (pictured above) started at hooker for Munster. He was left out by Daniel Hourcade throughout 2014 despite being fully fit and available. 

Ospreys 53-20 Zebre
Welsh region the Ospreys is another well positioned side likely to be involved in the play-offs. The Swansea based region is four points above Leinster and with no involvement in the upcoming European Quarter Finals the Ospreys ought to have fresh players unlike Leinster in the Champions Cup and four other Pro 2 teams in the Challenge Cup. Saturday's win over Zebre featured Canadian captain Tyler Ardron playing second-row and former USA junior Hanno Dirksen playing wing. Argentine players Luciano Orquera and Gonzalo Garcia started for Zebre. Both are capped by Italy. On the bench was the uncapped Luciano Leibson.

Treviso 17-32 Dragons
Italian sides Treviso and Zebre are destined to be the bottom two at the completion of the Pro 12 season. With four rounds remaining Treviso is three wins behind the 10th placed Cardiff Blues while Zebre is four. Treviso's inability to win v the Newport-Gwent Dragons on Saturday was a demonstration of the extent of progress required. Uncapped Argentine prop Romulo Acosta was a replacement for the Italians. 

#
Team
Pts
1
Glasgow
60
2
Ulster
58
3
Munster
58
4
Ospreys
56
5
Leinster
52
6
Connacht
43
7
Edinburgh
43
8
Scarlets
40
9
Dragons
32
10
Blues
30
11
Treviso
18
12
Zebre
14

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