Monday, January 6, 2020

EuroPro WRaps: Gallagher, Guinness and the Top 14

The three European Leagues are on break for a fortnight as European Professional Club Rugby tournaments, Champions and Challenge Cups, complete Rounds 5 and 6.

Gallagher Premiership Round 8 WRap - By the Numbers

12 teams, all in England; 22-match, home-away schedule; semifinals June 12; Grand Final, June 20

Home Happy: Gloucester, Leicester, Sale, Saracens
Road Warriors: Exeter, Northampton

Saracens approaching positive table points count, though they’ve yet a steeply uphill pathway to playoffs. Exeter and Northampton at the front by a bonus-point plus ahead of a pack of six who’re within six match points of one another.
As in Top 14, there’ll be additions/omissions to rosters in Round 9 as replacements for those who may be conscripted for international, 6Nats release.

On the Weekend, By the Numbers

                14           for Sale 10, Ruan du Preez, on 4-and-2, as Sharks put down half dozen trys in the 48 - 10, 5-point rout of Harlequins at Salford City; last 2 five-pointers made 7 by du Preez relief, USA Eagles 10, AJ MacGinty;

                16           for Leicester 10, George Ford, on a triple of 4-1-1, a brace from 14, Jonny May, and the initial points in the 2nd minute by loosehead, Ellis Genge, made for the 31 - 18, 5-point victory for the Big Cats over Bristol at Welford Road; the Bears, once top of the table, have not won since road joy at Exeter second weekend in November... heading in the waaay wrong direction and that ursine crew is now out of the playoffs frame... at this time;

                4              trys by minute 30 and 10 groundings overall as Saracens continue their emergence from the Premiership dungeon with comprehensive, 62 - 5 win past Worcester at Barnett Copthall; double for Sarries flyer, Rotimi Segun in the happy;

                5              points for Gloucester in the 29 - 15, bonus-point, home victory over Bath at Kingsholm; all visitor points coming off the toe of 5-penalty strike standoff, Rhys Priestland;

                15           for Exeter 10, Gareth Steenson, perfect for the day on the conversion of all 6 trys by Los Jefes and travelers counted 5 table points after the 45 - 28 victory at Madejski over London Irish;

                             count midpoint cushion for Northampton, 14-10, before Saints blew away Wasps at the Ricoh, 45 - 28; 1 red ticket at ’65 and a yellow at ’70 no effect on the Holy Rollers as they scored the last points of the match at ’79 with only 13 players as 6’5”, 300 pound 11, Taqele Naiyaravoro, touched down late;        

upcoming Round 9

                Friday, 1.24.20:

                                Northampton Saints (28) v (13) London Irish at Franklin’s Gardens: should be a comfortable nickel for homeboys;

                Saturday, 1.25.20:

                                Bath (17) v (11) Leicester Tigers at the Recreation Ground: Big Cats take Bath?

                                Bristol Bears (18) v (23) Gloucester at Ashton Gate: Bears getting towards necessity and Cherry-and-Whites will like to exploit that;

                                Exeter Chiefs (29) v (22) Sale Sharks at Sandy Park: tough ask for travelers against frontrunners;

                                Worcester Warriors (17) v (12) Wasps at Sixways: visitors may overtake hosts on the chart this time;

                Sunday, 1.26.20:

                                Harlequins (12) v (24) Saracens at Twickers: could be the death knell for Corsairs extra time hopes

Guinness Pro14 Round 10 WRap
14 teams = 2 conferences of 7 in 5 countries on 2 continents playing home-away within the conference, plus non-conference teams once, plus 2 additional games for a 21-match schedule; Grand Final on June 20th at Cardiff City Stadium, with playoffs on the four weekends preceding that date
While Leinster runs hard and fast away from everyone, the competition takes a break and its eyes-on European Tournaments, Champions and Challenge Cups, for the next coupla; however the African sides take the opportunity to catch-up the rest of the table on games-played.
League play commences at Round 11 for everyone in the middle of February.

Home Happy: Dragons, Edinburgh, Leinster, Ulster, Zebre
Road Warriors: Glasgow, Scarlets

By the Numbers:

                11           for Scarlets 15, Leigh Halfpenny on three, first forty 3-pointers and the conversion of 9, Gareth Davies, 27th minute try against only a brace of converted touch downs and travelers got the 16 - 14 victory over Cardiff Blues; all winning points scored in the first half, while home team drew within 2 just past the hour mark;

                18           for Ulster 9, John Cooney, on a triple of 5 conversions, 1 penalty strike and 1 try as home side worked Munster at Ravenhill, 38 - 17, for 5 points;

                13           for Glasgow 10, Peter Horne, on 4 conversions and a touch down, while little brother 9, George, dotted a brace as road Warriors blasted Benetton in northern Italy, 38 - 19, never trailing in the rout;

                16           for Zebre 10, Carlos Canna, on 5-and-2 struck from his shoe and 5-try home team delivered the rude whatfor to Cheetahs, who’ve come off a fortnight holiday fattening, albeit in a flatly and unseemly manner; double for flyer, Charlie Walker, in the initial victory for Zebre of their 2019-20 campaign;

                68           minutes of competition at 15 against 14 after a 12th minute rouge for travelers, too large a pit from which to escape as Edinburgh rogered SoKings, 61 - 13, at Murrayfield; 14 for house 10, Jaco van der Walt on 7-of-9 conversions and the Scots are now in first position in Group B;

                12           counted within the final 10 minutes and Dragons returned from a handful down, 13-18, to ground Ospreys at Rodney Parade, 25 - 18;

                             try Leinster had the bonus-point by the 20th en route to a 54 - 7 thrashing of Connacht that sees the province as best in the country, best in the league by far; doubles for 8man, Max Deegan, and 13, Gary Ringrose;

Upcomes makeup Rounds 9 & 10
                 Saturday, 1.25.20:
                                Southern Kings (6) v (21) Cheetahs at Mytjalies-Mandela Bay:
                Saturday, 2.1.20:
                                                 Cheetahs (21) v (6) Southern Kings at Free State Stadium:

Top 14 Wrap - Round 13

Home Happy: Bordeaux Bègles, Montpellier, Racing 92, Stade Français, Toulon
Road Warriors: La Rochelle, Lyon,

 At the halfway mark in the 26-match season, Bordeaux have stretched their lead at the head of the class with Lyon keeping pace, and a pack of five snarlers are coming hard, two-plus bonus-point wins adrift the leaders. Racing and Toulouse are on the march with one loss apiece in their recent handful of contests, while Toulon have clawed their way back into contention by not losing in the league since second weekend in October.

Round 14 will go at the end of this month. There will be noticeable differences in the complexion of the XVs as international players will have been released for 6Nats duties. The weekend at the end of January could very well be titled, “The Round of Depth”.

On the Weekend, By the Numbers

                5              table points for Bordeaux though only 3 trys grounded by the home team in the 22 - 3, stymieing of Bayonne at Chaban-Delmas;

                19           for 2019 RWC-winner and Montpellier 10, Handre Pollard, on 2-and-5, while his oppo 10, 21 years old Brive standoff, Enzo Hervé, knocked 16 true the sticks on 1-and-4 from the floor; Pollard’s 77th-minute conversion of 21 years old  flyer, Thomas Darmon’s try had homeboys comfortably ahead, 29-16, but 10 points for the travelers in extra time nearly did the trick; result: 29 - 26, for Montpellier at the end of the day;

                24           for La Rochelle 10, Jules Plisson, on a triple of 5-3-1 and travelers secured a critical bonus-point road win at Stade du Hameau, 44 - 13, over Pau; 8-9-10, Victor Vito-Kirwan Barlow-Jules Plisson combination fluid right now;

                17           for Racing 10, Teddy Irbaren, on a 3-2-1 triple and home team rising at La Défense, 27 - 19, over Clermont; 14 for traveler 9, Grieg Laidlaw, on 1-and-4 from the floor;

                12           points, 12-0, the halftime advantage squandered by Agen as a 75th-minute conversion by travelers 10, Jonathan Wisniewski, meant 13 - 12 joy for visiting Lyon at the Armandie;

                2              trys for Stade Français blindside, Sekou Macalou, aided the home side’s first victory in the new year and their third straight outcome without a loss as they continue their trek from relegation position with 30 - 18 victory over Toulouse;

                            yellows tickets issued, 4 for Castres and 3 for homeys - 1 of them gone to red - and Toulon trounced their guests at Casino Night in the Mayol, 40 - 3; bonus-point try by the 36th minute and a brace of penalty trys awarded during the first forty in the fulsome fractivity;

Upcomes Round 14
                Saturday, 1.24.20:

                                Lyon (44) v (36) Toulon at Stade Gerland: numbers 2 and 3 on the chart get after the pill in a blockbuster beginning to the second half of the season;
                                Brive (25) v (23) Section Paloise at Stade Amédée-Domenech: each within hailing distance of the playoffs just now, victory will help that cause;

                                Castres (23) v (32) Racing 92 at Pierre Fabre: home team in danger of dropping into the abyss and must win, while visitors are charging now and would like this result;

                                La Rochelle (33) v (31) Montpellier at Marcel-Deflandre: Match-match-match-of-Weekend; winner for the playoffs frame;

                                Clermont (28) v (20) Stade Français at the Michelin: travelers on a roll, yet that may end here;

                Sunday, 1.26.20:

                                Bayonne (23) v (18) Agen at Jean Dauger: lower end derby with dropspot as the prize perhaps;

                                Toulouse (30) v (47) Bordeaux Bègles at the Ernest-Wallon: time for home side to get going after their last pair of abject un-happies; visitors say, wot? M-o-W, M-o-W!

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