Sunday, January 24, 2016

EPCR: Round 6

EPCR Round Last: 1.23, 1.24

The last actions in pool play saw the reigning champs fail to hold 1st place in their group, though they will yet go on to the knockouts in April, albeit their hunt will start on the road and they’ll most likely remain travelers until the final should they attain the title fixture. The top two clubs from Round 5 are the top two from this weekend’s matchplay and thus they will be performing host duties until they lose.  The middle pool’s headboy opted to rest a number of players and thus fell from contention for an initial knockout round respite while visiting Scotland.

By the numbers:
11 from the toe of Warriors flyhalf, Finn Russell, on three penalties and the conversion of fullback Stuart Hogg’s finely finished fiver, sufficient to deal a Dan Carter-less Racing 92 the losing hand at Rugby Park in Kilmarnock, just down the road from the sodden, weather-incapacitated Scotstoun; a different-look 92, saw 10 changes from the XV that earned the French a home run through the semifinal stage (should they re-obtain and maintain winning form) last weekend in Round 5 at Paris v Scarlets; a late, unconverted try by replacement front row Davit Khinchagishvilli the only numbers for the heated Parisian mob, in the 22-5 Scots victory;

10 players also changed up from Round 5’s XV for Saracens though the result was the same as the top team of all classes popped Toulouse a good one, 28-17, at the Ernst Wallon; not a real rest for 14-point Owen Farrell as he came on just after the re-start and knocked through his sig-figs with four penalties and  the conversion of replacement back Ben Spencer’s try; the remainder of the visitors numbers accounted for by the starting standoff, Charlie Hogdson, on a pair of penalties and a dropped goal;

8 bunches a’ fives from 8 different players as Ulster raised its hand for inclusion in extra-time action with a tumping [sic] of travelling Oyonnax in Kingspan at Ravenhill, 56-3; the Irish Province did without the aid of talismanic South African scrumhalf, Ruan Pienaar (illness), as well as SA first row, Wiehahn Herbst (injured); that hand’s question unanswered in the affirmative as 18 pool points insufficient to earn a knockout berth;

5 points the spread after the first forty at 11-6 guests to and five points the margin of victory as traveling Toulon took on and bested Bath at the Rec, 19-14; homeboys drew level early in the second stanza on a try by fullback, Anthony Watson, and nudged in front on a sticksplitter by #10 George Ford, 14-11, before a dot by Bryan Habana put the travelers in the lead for good; Habana’s grounding was followed by a penalty strike by fullback James O’Connor, which made for the result and put the pilou-pilou into the knockout stages;

19 no cribbage hand there, but flyhalf Jimmy Gopperth’s account as Wasps leveled Leinster, 51-10, at Ricoh Arena; five pool points also for the bonus-try point win that secured the pool for the Coventry-based XV; the visitors muster resulted from groundings by scrumhalf Sean Reddan and South African flyer Zane Kirchner;  

3 and 12 the halftime scores for Scarlets and Northampton Saints to the travelers, and 22-10 the visitors victory, but 19 pool points with a 1-point, points-for v points-against differential insufficient to earn a spot at the after-hours party come first weekend in April for the East Midlands club;
2 trys for flyer Ronan O’Mahony and singles by scrumhalf Conor Murray and tighthead Dave Kilcoyne against a single fiver for the home town blindside, Marco Lazzaroni, made up the numbers in Northern Italy and Benetton Treviso went winless in their group with nada points and Munster had gone three-and-three with the 28-5 happy ending;

16 for flyhalf Jules Plisson on a dot, four conversions and one penalty and six-try Stade FranĪ‚ais punched both its ticket into the quarterfinals and pool-winning Leicester Tigers at the Jean Bouin, 38-21; Tigers were up early on a try by outside center, Manu Tuilagi and its conversion by #10, Freddie Burns, 26 unanswered points through 54 minutes caused road angst for Leicester;

2 braces, one for form backrow lock, Tom Waldrom, and the second for flyer James Short, suspended Ospreys chances of the playoffs and made them for the hosts as Exeter Chiefs finished the EPCR season fastly and furious at Sandy Park and will continue onto Round Knockout;

3 points the separation at half in favor Bordeaux Begles at 17-14 in the Marcel Michelin over hosts ASM Clermont Auvergne; homeboys regained the lead early in the second half with groundings by Damien Chouly and Morgan Parra, both converted by scrumhalf Parra, and at 28-20 looked the business just past the hour mark; but a yellow seat for Julien Bardy meant a pair of dots and one penalty to the travelers for a 37-28 knockout of Clermont by Bordeaux   

                  Upcome the Knockouts: April 8-10
Leicester Tigers v Stade Francais;                                                                      Racing 92 v Toulon;

Saracens v Northampton Saints;                                                                     Wasps v Exeter Chiefs

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