Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Europe WRap: By the Numbers On the Weekend

Europe WRap 3.15-3.17: Gallagher, Guinness and T14

3             try Montpellier kept its playoff fire burning with victory over Toulon at the Felix Mayol, 21-18; Boudjellal’s Bunch were in front, 18-14, when a grounding by 13, Yvan Reilhac, and its conversion by 10, Ben Paillaugue, made for the result; Toulon fair certain to be vacationing during extra time this season;
5             crucial points in a best-of-times/worst-of-times scenario in the hills: for Racing 92, slap-happy on the trot at Stade des Alpes, 34-16, and hosts, a disgruntled Grenoble, are looking at the stark reality of the Pit at D-Deux next season; 92 are in the last playoff slot now, as…
3             losses in a row now for La Rochelle, who dropped out of extra time frame with their plummet continuing at Agen; it was 16-nil at break for homeboys and it never really got better for the port side who didn’t count until ’74 and 19-7 the result for Agen victory;
21           for steamrolling Castres 10, Ben Urdapilleta, on a triple of 3 conversions, 1 penalty and 2 trys in the home, 36-17, 5-pointer past Perpignan, who are as good as on the chop and D-Deux bound;
16           for Bordeaux 10, 20 years old Matthieu Jalibert, on 2-and-4 from the floor and Bègles moved into the 4th playoff slot, which would mean a home fixture in le barrage weekend, with the win, 26-12, over Stade Français;
4             penalties struck after the hour mark, with scores at 15-14 for home side, meant the favorable outcome for Clermont at the Michelin, 27-14, over a rowdy Stade Français;
7             try Toulouse flexed mighty muscles at the Wallon and 53-17 the result as the league leaders worked their pattern for a 46-7, midpoint margin, before closing out for victory over Lyon;
Top 3-of-14 Fortunes
#1 Toulouse are on the road for 4 of the last 7 rounds. Flashpoints on the schedule would be: versus Clermont on April 13 and at Castres April 27. If this were a horse race Toulousain are in front by a length and a half, and near four in front of the pack.  
#2 Clermont, too, are 3-4, home-away for the last 7 and their critical masses are the aforementioned April 13 at Ernest Wallon and prior to that they’ll be hosting Racing 92, a club on the rise right now; Clermont are hard charging after the frontrunner, but they've mised a step or two in the last furlong.
#3 Castres, the current titleholder, will host 4 of their remaining 7 fixtures and have a match at Bordeaux on April 13 which will signify, but they're on an abso collision course, hurtling towards the previously flagged April 27 date at home in the Pierre-Fabre against Toulouse. Were we at the track, we'd be observing the XV horse broken out of the pack and surging right now;
Guinness Pro14  and Gallagher Premiership were on the bye

Monday, March 18, 2019

Pacific Rugby Premiership MD-1 & Rocky Mountain MD-2 WRaps

Rugby Round the Region: PRP MD-1, RMR MD-2 

PRP: the clubs have six matches done and four to go; April 27th concluding round; Life West and Belmont drawn for first on table points. At Glendale on the weekend…
…under clear skies with a twisty, crossfield wind, Merlins battled Santa Monica Dolphins in a lively first division match on the StoveTop at Infinity with 11 trys grounded between the XVs. Four, first-40 lead changes saw the lads into the sheds at break with tallies of 26-24 for the home side. There was magic in the Santa Monica offloading and searing steps for Merlins defenders, who closed quick and sure at times, but left gaps on others, which the visitors were swift to exploit thus making a hugely entertaining contest for the fans on the East Terraces.
Second stanza action as heated as you’d like with the battle ongoing in a rager that concluded at ’80 with a scoreline of 43-37 for Glendale.

lineout sequence 

RMR: It's a Park City Table right now with Haggis, Boulder and Barbos all having a match in hand.
Highlanders and Harlequins got the jump on the league, opening the spring season with a match this last weekend up Route 36 in Superior, Colorado. Highlanders grounded their 4th by time in the first-40 and went on to a 47-14, 5-point victory, moving into second on the chart for the moment.

Sunday, March 17, 2019

Six Nations WRap: Cymru gyfan!

Six Nations - Round 5 - WRap

Round 5 went about as well as a Welshman could want, for Warren Gatland’s fifteen Men of the Dragon sorted an unruly Ireland side, running to a 25-nil scoreline by injury time before their guests were able to count. Wales New Zealand-born flyhalf, Gareth Anscombe, disciplined Irish infraction with precision on 6-from-6 true the sticks, plus the consummate 10 converted a pace-setting, first-minute 5-point delight by Hadleigh Parkes from which travelers never recovered. An injury time try and conversion for Ireland small solace one shouldn’t wonder in the 7-25 defeat. With the calamitous win, Wales claimed the Grand Slam and 2019 Six Nations championship and proclaimed, fair loudly, to the world that the side was abso headed in the proper direction to obtain the Grail at the International Stadium in Yokohama come October 23.

Scotland were well-beaten by England… in the first-40, 31-5, before mounting a return to form that would have been immediately epic save for a confounded lapse at the death, yet still, a sis-kiss was gotten at Twickers on the day, amid a legend aborning of Shakespearean proportions: four unanswered trys by Men of the Rose, all converted by 10, Owen Farrell plus Farrell’d a penalty for a 31-nil lead by the 30th minute; then a Scots try by “2-Stu” McInally completed by 10, Finn Russell, and 31-7 after ’40 and the ballade des chars rang loudly round Twickenham’s hallowed ground. One would have gained insight into the mechanics and substance of motivational speech to be certain were one to have heard head coach Vern Cotter’s halftime chat, for Scotland burst from the sheds scoring 24 unanswered and knotting things nicely by the hour mark and 31s for the house just then and the real work began: determination rather than desperation being shown by the sides as each strove for to gain the upper fist, glove bedamned. Caledonians grabbed advantage through a 75th-minute touch down by first-5/8th, “Aussie Sam” Johnson, on a brilliant dash, flash and finish, with its conversion by halfback relief, Grieg Laidlaw, the 38-31 nod to the travelers. Standoff replacement, George Ford, dotted well into injury time for his own conversion and the improbable draw.

And on the continent, Romaine Ntamack scripted his name on the back of Les Bleus 10 shirt with a performance worthy of someone at least into their third decade; 10 points for the 19 years old standoff on 2-and-2 from his shoe, one a dropped goal. It was abso there for the Azzurri, just adrift by a single at 14-15 in the 55th minute, but a Ntamack penalty strike and a grounding by flyer, Damian Penaud, near time made the numbers, 25-14, for France.
Sunday Funnies

Major League Rugby - On the Weekend, By the Numbers

MLRNA Wrap: 3.15,16 - By the Numbers

2             first-40 touch downs for New York United 2, Dylan Fawsitt, and 1 conversion by 5/8th, Chris Mattina, had the home team up, but only just, at the half, 12-11, over Toronto Arrows in the Bronx; travelers numbers from a brace of Sam Malcom penalties and a try by halfback, Andy Ferguson; visitors counted a tenner for the lead on a 46th minute grounding by 5/8th, Giuseppe du Toit, its conversion, and a further three-point penalty struck by Malcolm shy the hour mark and 21-12 then; last ’10, however, all for homeboys as United powerhouse, Nate Brakeley, dotted in the 71st to reduce the deficit to four at 17-21 before hosts flanker, USA Eagle and former Glendale Raptor, John Quill, got the winner right at time for a one-point advantage made three by Mattina’s plus-2, and New York had the historic initial home result at Gaelic Field, 24-21;

14           and nil the tallies early for Austin Elite over reigning champs, Seattle SeaWolves, on  groundings by number 2, Tiaan Erasmus (‘3), and Moroccan flyer, Soheyl Jaoudat (’13), with the additional deuces struck by 21 years old French flyhalf, Mickaël Romera; ‘Wolves chipped away at that lead with trys by Blue Bulls academy product, 8man Riekert Hattingh, in the 20th and number 2, Dan Trierweiler, at ‘34, each converted by Seattle numbers guy Brock Staller who added a penalty at time in the half and everyone in Central Texas had 17 at break; all second stanza points for travelers as lock, Brad Tucker, grounded at ’65 and Hattingh got his brace in the 76th minute with conversion by Staller for the record, 29-17; Seattle hottest fire in the league now on four straight victories;

7             try NOLA Gold showed why they’re number one with an impressive display at Houston SabreCats; 19 for JP Eloff on every conversion and a try for Himself while Sharks academy graduate, 5/8th Tristan Blewett, dotted a hat trick of trys for the league leaders in the 49-11 happy;

4             was the number last night in the Kettle at Infinity: 4 trys for the XVs, each and every converted by their 10s and 28 for every manjack in the Centennial State after ’80 in an extremely passionate draw between Glendale Raptors and San Diego Legion;
Sunday Funnies

Saturday, March 16, 2019

Super Rugby Round 5 WRap

Super Rugby Round 5: By the Numbers
18           for Chiefs 15, Damian McKenzie, on a triple: 2 conversions, 3 penalties and 1 try and the home team did not lose in Waikato Stadium; didn’t win either as it was a 58th minute McKenzie sticksplitting penalty strike to draw level Hurricanes for the two-pointer and 23s for everyone; McKenzie brothers, Damian at 15 and Marty at 10 versus the Barrett brothers, Jordie at 14 and Beauden at 10;
            try Mob number 2, Folau Fainga’a, grounded his brace in the first-40 in aid of Brumbies home win, 19-13, over Waratahs in Canberra; 2, too, the number of yellow cards earned by travelers, one on either side of the break;
8             points adrift at halftime, 8-16, for Jaguares became an ocean by time and Stormers had their 3rd win in a row, 35-8, to draw level on points with South African Conference leaders, Bulls; 13 for home team 11, SP Marais, on 2-and-3 from his tee;
16           the deficit at break, 5-21, against traveling Reds at Chichibu before a second stanza explosion of 3 trys inside of 10 minutes about the hour mark, including 1 double by the color guard’s front row relief, 23 years old Brandon Paenga-Amosa, who’d been on for 5 minutes until his first dot, and visitors up 26-21 just then; a grounding by reserve half, Keisuke Uchida, and its conversion by 15, Hayden Parker, brought the lead back to Sunwolves by the 70th minute, 28-26; Parker with a sticksplitting penalty conversion at ’73 and the advantage opened up, 31-26, for homeboys; however, a 75th minute grounding by relief 9, 20 years old Tate McDermott, made for drawn scores at 31s, which set up 21 years old Hamish Stewart for the game winning penalty goal at ’80 and 34-31 the travelers joy this day;
24           allowed during  a brace of 14-man periods in the second half by Rebels enabled their 1st loss of the season at Ellis Park; with tallies at 33 and 5 for the visitors early in the second stanza, a yellow ticket issued in the travelers midfield at ’47 resulted in  21 unanswered in the next 10 minutes and 31-26 still for Rebels by the 57th minute; Big Cats got the leveler through 11, Court Skosan, converted by 10, Elton Jantjies, but it was not until the second minute of extra time that Jantjies replacement, 21 years old Gianni Lombard, drilled a three-pointer for the Lions roar, 36-33;
Highlanders v Crusaders fixture cancelled due the tragic events in Christchurch
Blues, Bulls and Sharks on the bye

Friday, March 15, 2019

Opening Day - Men's D-2: Highlanders v Harlequins

Rocky Mountain Rugby
Men’s Division-2

Doors on the spring season burst wide open as Denver Highlanders and Denver Harlequins, who have been contesting the pill for better than half a century, will do so once more at Williams Field in Superior*, just off the main Boulder-Denver thoroughfare, 1pm kickoff tomorrow on the ‘A’ game with the B-side match to follow.

* due time of season/field availability

Six Nations trophy Wales' to lose...

6Nats - Round Last - preview - all games on Saturday, 3.16

Fairly simple: Wales win, they’re Champions; they don’t and the trophy could go to either England or Ireland, depending...

Italy v France at Stadio Olimpico, Rome Italy, 6:30am MST, for the Giuseppe Garibaldi Cup: temps in low-60s, overcast, little wind; bangbangbang, and not just because it’s a Test; these XVs have an issue or two to iron out and it could be done with velvet, but be sure there’ll be a cutting, metallic sledge-like aspect to the match that sees two of the world’s finest backrow locks contesting the pill in Louis Picamoles and Sergio Parisse, and halfback pairings that feature experience on the side of the home squad with Tito Tebaldi at 9 and Tommie Allen at 10 while France have a teenager at 10, 19 years old Romaine Ntamack, and Antoine Dupont at 9; 21 years old Treviso center, Marco Zanon, gets the go for Italy at second five-eighths, so the French midfield of Wesley Fofana and Matthieu Bastareaud may direct engagement out wide rather than in the near channels; Camille Lopez is returned to the match day roster and will definitely see test time from the bench;

Wales v Ireland at Principality (Millennium) Stadium, Cardiff Wales, 8:45am MST: for the Welsh Slam; home nation have one of the best 1-2 punches on the globe at 10 in Gareth Anscombe and Dan Biggar; the Irish 9-10 pairing of Connor Murray and Johnny Sexton is of the top three in the world; expect relative conservatism in the squads offenses with forwards emphasis, and the occasional Garryowen; temps in the 40s, but with the wind and rain promised, it’ll seem like you’re off the northern Norwegian coast on deck in a tee-shirt during a sizable blow, so bundling mauls, tightly-orchestrated pick-and-goes, and high hoists, long and lengthy, with and into the bitey breeze will be the on the menu this RugbyDay; for sloppy forwards fun, it doesn’t get any better than this; bangboombangboomboombangerooBOOM;

England v Scotland at Twickenham Stadium, London England, 11am MST, for the Calcutta Cup: make no mistake about it, Men of the Rose have a year-old bone they’ll look to pick here and now; gotta be a bit of residual angst remnant from the Battle of Prestonpans, errh last year’s Six Nations encounter ‘twixt the two; we shall see what kind of Highland charge can be sorted, but Youngs, Farrell and company are keen to close out this season’s campaign with impression; we’ll see, too, what might be the Scots plan, but expect Finn Russell’s boot to be involved and with Sean Maitland covering at 15 in the backthree, a counter or five against the certain high hangers at which Messrs. Youngs and Farrell excel and are sure to utilize, may be afoot; good chance of rain, definite wind, and chilly with temperatures on the frigid side of wind-assisted cold; should Wales lose, England will reckon its chance good to take first place with victory; bangbangbang.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Europe: French Top 14 Preview the Weekend - soon come playoffs!

Europe Professional Leagues on the Weekend
 Orange 14  3.16&17- Gallagher & Guinness are off

French Top 14: Round 19; 8 rounds remain with 40 potential table points on offer; 70+ should get a club to extra time

Saturday, 3.16:

               Toulon (37) v (38) Montpellier in Fèlix Mayol: homeboys on a run of 2; travelers looked smart at home v Bordeaux Bègles last time out; loser to make vacation plans during the playoffs? breezy, but otherwise ideal in the low 60s on the Mediterranean this RugbyDay; bangbangbang

               Agen (25) v (51) La Rochelle in the Stade Armandie: visitors on two losses, not necessarily the pathway they’d like to be on just now; hosts are a bonus-point win from relegation and seek what would be considered an upset here were it not the Orange 14 on Six Nations weekend; pretty perfect conditions: 60s, minimal wind; bangbangbang

               Castres (49) v (8) Perpignan at Stade Pierre Fabre: homeys on a playoff tear, not having lost since the end of last year; visitors may have peaked with their single win mid-February; could-should-would be five for the home team; top weather conditions for the derby at 60s and clear; bangbang

               Grenoble (20) v (46) Racing 92 at Stade des Alpes: of the last octet of rounds, visitors need to win six, or five with the bonus-point to obtain the playoff frame; Grenoble fighting for their Top 14 lives as they’re in a dropspot just now; this’ll be a cracker in the hills; 60s, no wind, no rain; bangbangbangbang

               Bordeaux Bègles (48) v (46) Stade Français at Chaban-Delmas: perfect weather at low 70s - upper 60s for the match of two would-be contenders, each needing the win; both lost large last time out and can ill afford another sadness;  bangbangbangbang

Sunday, 3.17:

               Clermont (61) v (33) Section Paloise in the Michelin: it will have rained prior to kickoff, so that may affect action somewhat; home team definitely wanting five here and now-now; they should get it if they’re able to keep the sir’s cards in his pocket; could see windy, rainy stuff during the match; bangbang
               Toulouse (67) v (52) Lyon in the Ernest Wallon: should be better between numbers one and three, but Clermont are pretty much in beastie mode and immense now and don’t look like they’re gonna stop any time soon, deep as they are; maybe travelers do the trick, but not a good bet; is it too soon to say juggernaut… I think not - no losses since the end of September in the league and only a single Champions Cup defeat to Leinster at the RDS first of December, yup, they’re juggernauting along… one more win and Toulouse will have effectively cliched a playoff berth; overcast with temps in the 50s, no real chance of rain and a wee puffy breeze, but as good as it gets for the players, really; bangbangbang