Sunday, April 19, 2015

European Champions Cup: Americas Players Semi Finals Review

Photo Independent
The Champions of Europe for a third year in a row will be French. Going into the final it is confirmed that a Top 14 club will lift the European trophy after Clermont Auvergne and Toulon both completed hard-fought Semi Finals victories in France this weekend. It set's up a re-match of the 2013 Final in which Toulon completed a late victory over Clermont in Dublin. This year's final will be played at the home of English rugby as two French teams fight it out to be European Champions at Twickenham, the same venue that is to host this year's Rugby World Cup Final. Set to be involved are players from both North and South America. The Americas is unique in never having been allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. Argentina 2023 can become a reality to change this. 


Clermont 13-9 Saracens
The first Semi Final saw a packed St. Etienne cheering on Clermont Auvergne and into the final. The city is located within reach of Clermont but is in no way a home venue. The yellow army nonetheless descended upon the stadium and city in staggering numbers. The loud noise made from the crowd alone underlined what an occasion it was. The style of rugby played though was not the same brand that saw Clermont overcome Northampton. Instead a tight match demonstrated the adaptability of the central-French side and the team was rewarded by scoring the game's only try. Canadian Jamie Cudmore played well as did Puma Marcelo Bosch in the Saracens' midfield. An Americas Tri-Nations was completed by USA fullback Chris Wyles playing wing for Saracens.


Toulon 25-20 Leinster
Sunday's Semi Final in Marseilles was so evenly disputed that it went into overtime. With neither team scoring a try the scores were locked at 12-12 at fulltime and forced the matcvh into two additional ten minute halves. Of them Toulon stood out in the first with Bryan Habana scoring a try and Toulon going ten points clear. Leinster fought back with a try to the outstanding Sean O'Brian but Toulon was able to control the closing minutes to qualify for a third consecutive final. Starting in the back-row was Puma Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe who captained Toulon for much of the match. Toulon could now become the first team to win the European championship three years in-a-row.

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