Sunday, April 5, 2015

European Challenge Cup: Americas Players Quarter Finals Review

Photo Sky Sports
The Quarter Final stage of the European Rugby Challenge Cup took place this weekend. Three of the four play-offs matches were closely fought and have set-up an intriguing Semi Finals round which will see two Guinness Pro 12 teams meeting in the first Semi Final and two members of the Aviva Premiership contesting the second. A number of players involved are to be considered for squad places for Rugby World Cup 2015 for a number of nations including Argentina. South America could host the World Cup for the first time in 2023 while a return to the home unions that year would be counter productive. 

Gloucester 14-7 Connacht
The match got underway on Friday evening with Aviva Premiership strugglers Gloucester putting all it's resources into reaching the final four of the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The visiting Irish province of Connacht has been performing well in the Guinness Pro 12 but was unable to perform in the West Country. Puma Mariano Galarza was not involved for Gloucester. 

Dragons 25-21 Cardiff Blues
The all-Welsh Quarter Final played in Newport on Saturday served as ideal marketting ahead of the Welsh derby weekend in the Guinness Pro 12. To be played later this month, Judgement Day is Wales' big opportunity to attract a large crowd for a non-international at the Millennium Stadium. Missing from Cardiff's team against the Dragons on Saturday were Pumas Joaquín Tuculet and Lucas González Amorosino. 

Exeter Chiefs 48-13 Newcastle Falcons
The impressive season of the Exeter Chiefs could yet get better. The west country side is a possible Semi Finalist in the Aviva Premiership and is now a confirmed Semi Finalist in the European Rugby Challenge Cup. The team's home win over Newcastle on Saturday has made the double a possibility. Newcastle will not be involved in any further play-offs of any kind this season. Uncapped Argentine Juan Pablo Socino played at inside centre for Newcastle while former Puma Juan Pablo Orlandi was on the bench as was USA front-rower Eric Fry. All are possibilities for the World Cup. 

London Irish 18-23 Edinburgh
The fourth Quarter Final took place on Sunday with Scottish city side Edinburgh completing a come-from-behind away victory to make it two Guinness Pro 12 and two Aviva Premiership teams in the final four. On the bench for London Irish was Canadian Jebb Sinclair who is in line to play in a second Rugby World Cup. Involved for Edinburgh was Argentine Tomás Leonardí who was last selected for international duty in June 2014.  

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