So the group stage come to a close and we have our quarter finalists. Here is my review of the sixth round of the European Rugby Challenge Cup.
How did the predictions go?
First here is a link to my predictions.
10 out of 10, a clean sweep fantastic. Well yes but also there weren’t any surprises and maybe shows how little teams care about this competition.
Brive 20 v 31 Gloucester Rugby
The expected victory of Gloucester but Brive put up more o fa fight than expected. Brive had the lead early on a penalties were exchanged before Gloucester stamped their authority on the scoreboard with 2 quick tries to lead 6-17 at half time. A series of yellow cards on both sides disrupted play and both sides picked up penalty tries. How often has that happened? Gloucester then picked up the TBP with seven minutes to go and a Brive try at the death made the score line look more respectable.
Key Stat: Tackling success rate Brive 84.0% Gloucester 90.0% or Defenders beaten 10 – 19
84% isn’t bad but against 90% you are giving up opportunities and having very few yourself. It was this stifling defence that made the difference with most of the other stats very even.
The TBP win for Gloucester makes it 6 wins and 5 TBPs to go in to the quarter finals as top seeds.
US Oyonnax 20 v 3 Zebre
Oyonnax took and early lead with a penalty but had to wait until nearly half time to get a try and so a 10 – 0 at the break. Zebre did pull back a penalty early in the second half but that’s as good as it got. Another couple of tries made it a comfortable win and Zebre didn’t help themselves having two players sent to the sin bin late on.
Key Stat: Clean breaks Oyonnax 5 Zebre 0
Oyonnax were hardly devastating in attack but Zebre were totally toothless. This result leaves Oyonnax second in the group and out of the competition.
Edinburgh 38 v 20 Bordeaux Begles
The first half was all about Edinburgh scrum half Hidalgo-Clyne. He traded penalties with Bordeaux kicker Beauxis but crucially scored the first try to give Edinburgh a 14-6 lead at half time. The Scottish side started the second half strongly and even though Bordeaux pulled a try back always looked in control. Hidalgo-Clyne’s second try on 65 minutes sealed the TBP and only a late consolation try made the score line semi-respectable.
Key Stat: Tackling success rate Edinburgh 96.0% Bordeaux 86.0%
Edinburgh just didn’t let Bordeaux get anything going and took their opportunities well to qualify for the quarter finals.
Rugby Rovigo 6 v 34 London Irish
The score line makes this look like an easy regulation win to give Irish a home quarterfinal. But it was anything but Rovigio took an early lead and Irish didn’t help themselves by having a player yellow carded early on. Back up to full strength they scored a try and took a relatively slim 6-10 lead into halftime.
Another yellow card early in the second half for Irish was another setback but they managed a second try when down to 14 men. With 15 minutes to go Irish stepped up a gear as the Italians tired and scored the two tries they needed for the TBP with another with the game coming to an end giving a convincing score line.
Grenoble 3 v 28 Cardiff Blues
The freezing cold conditions meant this was always going to be 10 man rugby. In the first half Cardiff passed up several kicks at goal but were unable to convert their territory into tries. A solitary try from their scrum half gave them a slim 3-7 lead at half time.
In the second half the pack did the job, with Grenoble down to 14 men a penalty try was forced just before the hour mark. Then the same thing was done again with 10 minutes to go. Then just before the end of the game they drove over for the TBP. Blues left it late but got the TBP win they were looking for but it was only enough for a best second place qualification into the quarterfinals.
Newport Gwent Dragons 30 v 19 Stade Francais
Dragons made the perfect start and were already 10 points up after 5 minutes. Prydie kept knocking over the penalties Stade who’s only reprieve was a try on the half hour mark. Dragons had effectively won the game when the went in 22-7 at half time. Stade did fight back but a try a piece meant it was the same gap going into the last 10 minutes. A Stade try then did raise the possibility of a fight back but Dragons held firm to claim a home quarter final.
Bucharest Wolves 10 v 52 Newcastle Falcons
Newcastle as expected dominated this from the start and had the TBP wrapped up by the 33rd minute. Wolves did grab a try back before the break but were still 10-28 down. The second half had two fairly quick tries for Falcons and then it understandably went a bit quiet before a couple more near the end. This earned Falcons a runners spot in the quarter finals.
Exeter Chiefs 45 v 3 Bayonne
Bayonne sent over a weakened side and the results show that. In a scrappy first half Exeter went about building the win taking penalties when on offer to lead 11-0 at half time. Another penalty and try from Jess kept Exeter in a comfortable lead before the floodgates opened in the last twenty minutes. The pack got full reward for all their hard work with four tries to book a home quarter final.
La Rochelle 20 v 30 Connacht Rugby
This one turned into a real battle, La Rochelle already out of the competition weren’t supposed to care. However they dominated the score board for much of the game. Connacht had a great start with an early try but the Frenchmen fought back to lead 20-11 at half time. Connacht got an early try in the second half but were held at bay until the last ten minutes. Suddenly two converted tries turned the result around and not only got the win but also the TBP to secure their quarter final place.
London Welsh 12 v 17 Lyon
Lyon got off to a good start with two early tires but it could have been even more but another one was ruled out for a double movement. Welsh did try to fight back but still trailed 0-10 at half time. Lyon got their third try on the hour mark and subsequently emptied their bench. This disrupted Lyon and Welsh capitalised by pulling back two tries but couldn’t push on to win their first game of the season. At least Welsh got a LBP as they were the only team going into this round in either competition that hadn’t got any points.
Dragons v Cardiff Blues
Exeter Chiefs v Newcastle Falcons
Gloucester Rugby v Connacht
London Irish v Edinburgh
So the 8 teams I predicted after 4 rounds have made it through into the quarter finals.
Finally sign-up for my 6 Nations prediction league on SuperBru.