European Rugby Challenge Cup 2014-2015 Round 5 Review

A weekend of fairly predictable results but some groups are still going down to the wire next weekend. Here’s my review of this weekend’s action.

How did the predictions go?

First up here is a link to my predictions.

9 our of 10, is a good return with just Dragons result over Falcons eluding my crystal ball.

Cardiff Blues 104 v 12 Rugby Rovigo

This was as one-sided as the score line suggests, Cardiff were in control from the start and had the TBP wrapped up in 20 minutes. Rovigo have given up big scores in each of their away games but their home games have been much more respectable. Let’s hope next weekend’s fixture isn’t such a blow out when London Irish travel to Italy. This result has made people ask what the point of this fixture is and I do find it hard to understand how having a second tier Italian team helps. I fully understand teams from non-six nations countries being involved. I would advocate having two next time instead of the playoff between them and Italian sides.

Key Stat: Meters run with ball Cardiff 1079 Rovigo 307

I do talk about kilometre games but you don’t often see one side having a kilometre game. We have seen it this season once before but it is rare and shows just how one-sided this was.

Bordeaux Begles 26 v 3 London Welsh

Bordeaux were always in control of this game as London Welsh only managed to trouble the scoreboard with 1 penalty. Even though Bordeaux managed to pull out a 12-3 lead by the half hour mark they left it late to secure the TBP. There were no more scores until a frenetic last 13 minutes when Bordeaux scored two more tries and setup a winner takes all gam next weekend.

Key Stat: Clean breaks Bordeaux 11 Welsh 1

Welsh just couldn’t get anything going offensively and Bordeaux were more capable when the game wasn’t just players kicking the leather off the ball.

London Irish 43 v 41 Grenoble

Irish shot out to an early lead with 2 tries and quickly forgot that you have to build your victories at this level. Grenoble came back well and with two kickers who were scoring from long range took a seven point lead into halftime despite being out scored 3 tries to 2.

The second half started with Irish pulling back to within 1 point after two penalties. From then on the ref had had enough, giving Grenoble 3 yellow cards but a red card for Irish mean that both sides spent over 20 minutes a man down. The second was a real battle with the lead changing several times but Grenoble must have thought they had it won being 10 points up with 10 minutes to go. Dorrian then came on to lead a comeback that saw Irish score 2 tries to win a tightly fought contest.

Irish and Cardiff are now both on the same points as Irish head to Italy and Cardiff to France for the last round of games.

Stade Francais 47 v 12 Bucharest Wolves

The scoreline suggests a comfortable win but for half the game this was a close affair. Wolves took the lead from the boot of Vlaicu on 5 minutes and his kicking of 3 more penalties kept Bucharest in touch. Stade scored two converted tries to lead by 2 points going into half time. It’s clear they had the TBP in mind with no penalties kicked.

In the second half a yellow card opened the flood gates and Stade quickly scored two more tries to take control. From there they went on to comfortable win adding three more tries over the last half hour of the game. This 5 point win gives Stade a tinny chance of qualifying as a best second place if they can get a good win over Dragons and Newcastle lose to Wolves.

Gloucester Rugby 33 v 3 US Oyonnax

Gloucester took control of this early on and with three tries in the first ten minutes the surprising thing was that it took to nearly half time for the TBP. Being 23 points ahead at halftime clearly meant that there was little to play for in the second half and it told. A totally disjointed half of rugby with the only points coming via a try right at the death.

This result leaves Gloucester as the only unbeaten team and on track for top seed status for the quarter finals.

Newcastle Falcons 29 v 40 Newport Gwent Dragons

My wife has been warning me not to use the old cliches but this really was a game of two halves. Falcons got the first points on the board but after that were a mess in the first half. Dragons already had a try but they took full advantage of the yellow card to Mayhew scoring three converted tries to get the TBP by 25 minutes. Evern with Mayhew back Dragons scored another try to take a 32 point lead at half time.

Falcons came back in the second half but it was just too far and the one try by Dragons took the wind out of the Falcons sails a little.

Key Stat: Half time score Newcastle 3 Newport Gwent 35

A lot of the stats were fairly even, Dragons just took full advantage in that first half and did enough to stay ahead.

Zebre 23 v 13 Brive

Both these teams are out of the competition and so there was only pride to play for. It took a while to get going with both teams only picking up 2 penalties each in the first half. For most of the second half there was at least one player off the pitch. Brive scored their try whilst down to 14 men to take the lead for the first time in the game. Zebre came back and scored two tries and a penalty to win this dead rubber.

Bayonne 14 v 0 La Rochelle

Another dead rubber and as is typical of the French game the home team took it. From a scoring point of view it was a quiet game with a penalty try midway through the first half. It wasn’t until the last ten minutes for the second try so this one was in the balance nearly all game.

Lyon 21 v 19 Edinburgh

Lyon did their French compatriots at Bordeaux a favour by taking the points off Edinburgh. There is probably some mathematical combination including a draw that means the have an extremely slim chance of going through but it’s to complicated to figure out.

Edinburgh were on the right side of the scoreline for most of this game even if Lyon were having the better of the play overall. Lyon were breaking the line more often and attacking better but Edinburgh were more clinical. meaning Lyon didn’t take the lead until the last quarter and even then they needed a drop kick to take the lead back again.

Key Stat: Metres run with ball Lyon 447 Edinburgh 295

A reminder that it’s not the meters run but what you do with it. If it wasn’t for a drop goal at the end Edinburgh would still be unbeaten in this competition. Now it’s a winner takes all game at home against Bordeaux.

Connacht Rugby v Exeter Chiefs

This was a dink dong battle in the early exchanges then some poor kicking from hand gave the initiative to Connacht. Connacht took full advantage to rack up three tries and take a 7 point lead into half time.

Chiefs come out in the second half with much more endeavour and got their quick game going in both defence and attack. With Slade keeping the scoreboard ticking over between tries came back to lead 33-17. A late consolation try got the TBP for the Irish men who must now get a big win in France and hope results go their way.

Key Stat: Turnovers conceded Connacht 18 Exeter 7

Connacht coughed the ball up too often and so wasted the extra territory and possession they had especially in the second half. Exeter applied the pressure to cause those mistakes and looked after the ball better. If it was for a trip with the line begging a TBP would have been secured as well. This leaves Exeter in control of the group and hosting Bayonne next weekend.

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