European Rugby Champions Cup 2014-2015 Round 6 Review

A final round full of drama, the group stages are complete and here is my review of round 6.

How did the predictions go?

First here is a link to my predictions.

4 out of 10, a shocker but how was I to know there would be a draw and that two teams would register their first wins?

Wasps 20 v 20 Leinster

My wife warns me against clichés but this one really was a game of two halves. Leinster dominated and controlled the first half and would have been further a head were it not for missed kicks. 6-20 was the half time score and it’s credit to Wasps that they staged a come back. Still there was 20 minutes of play before the first score in the second half and then Wasps snatched two tries in ten minutes. That led to a tense final ten minutes as both sides tried to edge a head, a missed drop goal at the death by Goode could have clinched it.

Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Wasps 42% (17%/63%) Leinster 58% (83%/37%)

The territory stats are a great view as to how dominant Leinster were in the first half and just how much that swung round in the second. What’s amazing is that the wind wasn’t a deciding factor in this.

Castres 19 v 47 Harlequins

What on the surface looks like a comfortable win was anything but in the first half. Castres were never in the lead but were able to pin Quins back after each of their first two tries. A try that ended the first half meant that Quins went in with a slim 14-21 lead. A yellow card as par to that meant that Castres started the second half with 14 men. With Quins taking advantage and securing the TBP. The second yellow card on 53 minutes was more damaging as Quins scored two quick tries that ended the game as a competition. Both sides did score once more but it was immaterial.

Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Castres 35% (34%/37%) Harlequins 65% (66%/63%)

Quins played the game where they wanted to and Castres always had to attack from deep,  which with 20 mins of 14 men was too much. Quins needed the Wasps Leinster result to go their way and it didn’t so they are now out and concentrating on the Aviva Premiership.

Northampton Saints 8 v 32 Racing Metro 92

Saints were bullied though out this game and it’s a lesson in not judging a game from the highlights. With 2 Metro tries from turnovers you could easily suggest that was the deciding factor. But when you look at the territory and possession stats you see that Metro controlled where the game was played and had the ball most of the time.

Saints did well to only concede 11 points before half time with Hartley yet again yellow carded early on. Metro would have been glad of a try at the end of the first half so that they had points to show for their dominance. Two early tries in the second half meant Metro took total control also on the scoreboard. Even though North replied with a try Saints didn’t look like getting back into it. Roberts try on the hour claimed the TBP and ended the scoring.

Key Stat: Territory (1H/2H) Saints 35% (19%/49%) Metro 65% (81%/51%)

Saints were just stuck in their half and made to defend and defend. Even so both sides go through to the quarter finals.

Benetton Treviso 23 v 20 Ospreys

So top of the Pro12 loses to bottom but one. Both teams were already out of the competition and it showed in the Ospreys selection. Even so Ospreys took an early lead but they lacked control and after a ding dong half Treviso had a 16-12 lead. In the second half Ospreys built a lead and even with their more decisive running (602 meters to 373 meters) couldn’t put the game to bed. A 5 meter try at the death, where Treviso demolished the Ospreys scrum, led to a penalty try that was Treviso’s only score in the second half and won the game.

Key Stat: Turnovers conceded Treviso 7 Ospreys 13

Ospreys just couldn’t control the ball and lacked cohesion that let Treviso steal the game.

Scarlets 3 v 26 Toulon

Toulon got an early try and didn’t look back. Dominating the first half they kicked the points when available and pulled out a big 3-19 lead at half time. A try by Habana on 50 minutes signalled to the bench that the game was won and the substations came on mass. The second half was more balanced but Scarlets couldn’t break Toulon down and there were no more scores for either side.

Key Stat: Clean breaks Scarlets 1 Toulon 10

Toulon had the measure of a battling Scarlets and did enough to win and book a home quarter final.

Ulster 26 v 7 Leicester Tigers

With both sides showing attacking intent early on Ulster were the first to strike with try from Cave. Tigers then threw everything at Ulster but were unable to break them down and got counter punched just before half time to trail 12-0. ulster went further a head with an early try in the second half and then earned the TBP by taking advantage of a Leicester yellow card. Tigers got a quick try back but Ulster’s defence held out of the rest of the half not allowing Tigers to mount a real fight back.

Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Ulster 158/28 Tigers 83/16

Leicester had the lions share of possession and territory but Ulster’s defence kept them out by fair means of foul (Penalties conceded (Freekicks) Ulster 13 (2) Leicester 6 (1)).

Bath 20 v 15 Glasgow Warriors

Glasgow took the lead early on with a try and had the better of a lot of the first half. How ever Bath worked their way back with 2 penalties to only trail 6-7 at the break. A along range Glasgow try stretched the lead before Bath’s forward dominance told with 2 penalty tries. Even so the one score lead was sorely tested as Glasgow pushed close for a try to only just come up short.

Key Stat: Penalties conceded (Freekicks) Bath 6 (1) Glasgow 16 (1)

Not only did both Bath’s tries come from penalties but giving up that much territory and possession is going to tell over 80 minutes. Bath were the first team to lose both their first games and top a group.

Montpellier 27 v 26 Toulouse

Montpellier started the stronger with a couple of penalties and managed to get through their yellow card without conceding any points. How as soon as they were back to 15 men Toulouse got the only try of the first half. After swapping penalties Toulouse took a slim 9-13 lean into halftime. An early second half Toulouse try looked to have put them in control only for Montpellier to score two in reply and go back into the lead. After that the lead switched four more times as penalties were exchanged but Montpellier held on for the tightest of wins.

Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Montpellier 110/12 Toulouse 66/10

I couldn’t find a stat for belligerence and so had to go with this one. Toulouse were up on most of the stats but Montpellier just weren’t going to give in.

Munster 65 v 10 Sale Sharks

Both teams were already out of this competition and you could tell from Sales line up. The game started at a frenetic pace with Munster scoring an early try and going out to w 10-0 lead. Sharks fought back to 13-10 after 12 minutes and that’s how it stayed until half time. Munster Grabbed another early try in the second half and Sharks were unable to raise themselves once again. A penalty try after 53 minutes meant the game was won but it was realty last fifteen when the flood gates opened against a tiring side and Muster ran in 6 tries.

Key Stat: Tackles made/missed Munster 92/15 Sale 194/32

Making nearly 200 tackles took its toll on an under strength Sale side and Munster tool full advantage.

Clermont Auvergne 18 v 6 Saracens

These two teams are fully aware how dangerous each other is having met in the semifinals the last two years. That told in a game where both sides kick for territory and in the end Clermont’s power play told. Clermont had the better of a close first half managing a to end it 10-3 up. An early Clermont yellow card helped Saracens to score a penalty but soon after lost a player themselves and Clermont got the second try of the game. From there Clermont played in the right areas of the pitch and even though Saracens defence restricted them to a penalty goal they couldn’t come up with any scores of their own.

Key Stat: Defenders beaten Clermont 24 Saracens 7

Clermont’s power in the contact meant they took the day as both sides went through to the quarter finals.

Quarter Finals

Clermont Auvergne v Northampton Saints
Racing Metro v Saracens
Toulon v Wasps
Leinster v Bath Rugby

So I called 6 out of 8 quarter finalists after round 4, this has been a tight competition with plenty of surprises.

Finally sign-up for my 6 Nations prediction league on SuperBru.

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