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Sunday, January 17, 2016

EPCR: Round 5

EPCR Round 5: 1.15-1.17

With one round remaining, grade in Pools 1, 3 and 4 has been determined, while Pool 2, the little death group, is all cloudy and rowdy with everyone yet in the mix; and Pool 5, le Grande Piscine de la Mort,  is down to one couple vying for the topspot, though the remaining members of the group will feature in the eventual poll winner’s glory;
by the numbers:
6 points for #10, Dan Biggar, on a brace of penalties before he was replaced by Sam Davies, who copped 15 from four penalties and a dropped goal as Ospreys booted their way to the front of their fractive pool in toppage of visiting and former pool leader, Clermont Auvergne, at the Liberty Stadium; 21-13 that record; an early try by inside center Wesley Fofana and its conversion by scrumhalf Morgan Parra (plus two Parra penalties) had the guests all happy as Lawrence after forty at 13-6, but a scoring drought in the second stanza while Mr. Davies was knocking sticksplitters through from round the park proved the difference v the Gauls; a pair of yellow hammers, one for openside Viktor Kolelishvili and another awarded replacement hooker, John Ulugia, absolutely no aid the travelers who played 14 v 15 for one-quarter of the match, neither a winning nor supportive ratio; Clermont now must  win next week and pray for an Ospreys road loss to win the group; no losing bonus point for the French also, sacré bleu;

4 touch downs, five pool points  and twenty-six the total tally sufficient to stop Stade Francais stupid at Thomond Park, and Munster may very well have ended their guests extra-pool time hopes with the 26-13 victory;

4 for five also as Saracens claimed laurels in Pool 1 with comprehensive 32-17 lashing of Ulster at the Allianz Park in the English capitol; a relatively quiet outing for USA Eagles Chris Wyles, with 15 meters gained, five passes, a single turnover conceded and no touch downs recorded;

5 -try Bordeaux-Begles, the Jekyll-Hyde of group 2, tightened things up in demonstrative fashion at the Chaban Delmas versus Exeter; scores were drawn at 20s after 40, then again at the hour mark with everyone at 27, but a yellow settee provided Wild William Hooley, Chiefs standoff, at the 68th minute made for replacement 8-man Marco Tauleigne’s decider at 70 and along with relief three-quarters Lionel Beauxis’ conversion, a 34-27 must-win for homeboys, who’re yet in the tight, splashy/slashy group; travelers did get the lbp, though, and are now 5 points off pool leader Ospreys pace:

5 also for Oyonnax, who notched their inaugural EPCR victory by knocking mighty Toulouse around the Charles Mathon Rugby Stadium for a 32-14 result in a happy homestand; all host numbers scored by backs 9-14: with trys by halfback Fabien Cibray, inside center Eamonn Sheridan, flyers Uwa Tawaio and Silvere Tian, while flyhalf Nicky Robinson added seven on a pair of conversions and one penalty, plus five from relief #10, Regis Lespinas, made the French tally, while travelers got theirs from a brace of touch downs by backrow lock, Gillian Galan, and those made goal by scrumhalf David Mélé; 

20 points the haul for golden toed Leinster #10, Ian Madigan, on half dozen penalties and the conversion of relief hooker Sean Cronin’s late grounding, against a Bath #10 George Ford penalty plus 8-man Leroy Houston’s try, made for a 25-8 record at the Royal Dublin Society as the Irish Province have truly risen from their early season doldrums, alas too…;

15 for Tigers flyhalf Freddie Burns on a try and five conversions as clinical Leicester operated on Benetton Treviso at snowy Welford Road in Saturday’s late fixture; 28-7 the midpoint margin and 47-7 the record as the hosts secured Pool 4 on 23 match points; homeboys got right after it with a grounding by blindside breakaway Michael Fitzgerald in the 1st minute of play and nailed the bonus point at minute 35 with flyer Michael Thompstone’s touch down;

5 first forty trys-grounded, all made seven by #10, Dan Carter… plus the standoff’s penalty, put Scarlets on notice at 38-nil at Stade Yves-du-Manoir and Racing 92 was well on its way to the Pool 3 crown on Sunday; a brace of 10-minute seats issued the visitors in the initial half meant an advantage that savvy string-puller Carter exploited with a grimly graceful alacrity; Carter, the global standard at #10, accounted for 13 points on five conversions and a penalty from touch before handing over kicking duties to fullback, Brice Dulin (2 conversions), who in turn gave opportunity to  replacement, Johannes Goosen (try and the completion of outside center Casey Laulala’s tryple); Scarlets second stanza groundings, both converted by #10 Stephen Shingler,  were touched down by Canadian flyer DTH van der Merve and #9 Gareth Davies  making up the final sig figs at 64-14;

7 missed strikes at goal between the sides and 19 total points sailed outside the sticks at a windy Felix Mayol on Sunday as fullback Drew Mitchell crossed near time for Toulon and Freddie Michalak converted to 15-11 joy in the South of France; losing visitors, Wasps, now in second, though the stingers got the losing bonus point (lbp), and trail Toulon by only one pool table point; 

1 point the difference at the half and 7-6 the scoreline for Northampton at Franklin’s Gardens; 12-for everybody going into the final 10 minutes of action before a Stuart Hogg penalty strike at 70’ edged visiting Glasgow in front, 15-12; a 74’ yellow card for Warriors second row, Tim Swinson and Saints capitalized on the one-man advantage for a try by young flying Harry Mallinder at 78’, converted by the hometown #10 Stephen Myler and 19-15 the record; Northampton are yet innit, while Glasgow attend the Guinness Pro12;

Round 6 Pool 2 and 5 will be sorted on the weekend, and the headboys in Pools 1, 3 and 4 will want maximum numbers from their contests in order to obtain one of two, first knockout round passes: the Upcomers: for 14 of the clubs, Last Rites

Friday, 1.22
Ulster v Oyonnax in Kingspan Stadium at Ravenhill – homeboys must win, ideally with the bonus point, in order to qualify for the playoffs… though even that may not be enough; travelers have an unlovely road record;

Saturday, 1.23
Toulouse v Saracens at Stade Ernst Wallon - hosts EPCR final; visiting Owen Farrell, Chris Wyles and company have the greatest points differential in the competition and should like to increase that margin, but it’s Dusatoir et al’s last EPCR match in front of the faithful this season and they should like nothing less than to take down the swirling dervish that is the corsairs just now; Sarries also want mo’ pool points for to earn them a first round bye;  
Bath v Toulon at the Rec – only one team will emerge from the Death Pool and if it is to be current frontrunners, Toulon, they’ll need this road victory; hosts will seek to disaccommodate;
Wasps v Leinster at Ricoh Arena – speaking of the DP, these hosts are a single point adrift leaders and need a fiver to maintain pace and/or take the pool, or else obtain one of two wild card slots; travelers looking sharp lately, however;
Glasgow Warriors v Racing 92 at Rugby Park, Kilmarnock (Scotstoun water-ridden) – Carter and company will be looking for max points to stay in the chase for a weekend respite come the knockouts; Warriors should like to close the EPCR campaign on a positive note, but a XV with Dan Carter aboard is tough to beat no matter the atmosphere or hemisphere;
Scarlets v Northampton Saints at Parc y Scarlets – homeboys yet innit regards Guinness Pro12 league, so that may affect their lineup; Saints needs this to keep playing after the pools are closed;

Sunday, 1.24
Benetton Treviso v Munster at Stadio Communal di Monigo – maybe mein hosts first joy?
Stade Franςais v Leicester Tigers at Stade Jean Bouin – this’ll Rock the Casbah like mad as a big win for the visitors could mean a week off when the knockouts kick, but a large victory for the homeside could  very well mean extra-EPCR play for them;
Exeter Chiefs v Ospreys at Sandy Park – Chiefs tough in the Box, but their guests require this for after-hours play at pool’s closing;
ASM Clermont Auvergne v Bordeaux Begles at the Marcel-Michelin – this’ll be a knockdown, drag-out affair with each club in the running for head of pool and the knockout stage;

Tables

Pool 1
Saracens    5-0-0   24
Ulster          3-2-0   13
Oyonnax    1-4-0    7
Toulouse    1-4-0   5

Pool 2
Ospreys       3-2-0   16
Clermont      3-2-0   13
Exeter          2-3-0   11
Bordeaux     2-3-0   11

Pool 3
Racing 92       4-1-0   22
Northampton  3-2-0   14
Glasgow         2-3-0   10
Scarlets          0-5-0    2

Pool 4
Leicester     5-0-0   23
Stade          3-2-0   14
Munster       2-3-0    10
Benetton     0-5-0     0

Pool 5
Toulon     4-1-0   16
Wasps      3-2-0   15
Bath         2-3-0    9
Leinster    1-4-0    6

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