NEW YORK, NY – The Champions Cup has completed its fifth round of action. There were a few games that rattled our Expert Panel in Northampton, in Exeter and in Llanelli (home of the Scarlets) and other matches that were extremely exciting. In addition to looking at our Panel’s Picks, we’ve got a review of all the action. With that, here’s your European Champions Cup Recap.
Glasgow Warriors 12-14 Munster – After being thrashed in Limerick, weeks back by a fired up Munster side following the death of head coach Axel Foley, Glasgow fans were looking for quality response. Unfortunately for those fans, their side didn’t win but they got to watch a quality tussle. It was a heck of a fight and Munster were made to work hard from first whistle to final whistle.
Racing 92 34-3 Leicester Tigers – These are tough times for Tigers fans. After the dismissal of then director of rugby Richard Cockerill and head coach Andrew Mauger. Things haven’t gotten better in the two games since the Mauger era began. Despite being eliminated from the playoffs Racing put on a clinical display in front their homes fans to continue Leicester’s misery.
Connacht 66-21 Zebre – Despite having an injury list so long that a full matchday squad list of 23 players and than some, Connacht still thrashed a hapless Zebre side.
Wasps 17-14 Toulouse – What a nail biter. This match was a tussle all the way through. Wasps exciting and high powered backline was kept under wraps for the most part. The Toulouse defensive effort was impressive but the Wasps defensive effort and discipline proved to be difference. Last time the sides met, it ended a draw but Wasps did just enough this time to get the win.
Toulon 27-12 Sale Sharks – Sale deserve more respect than their record shows. On paper they are over-matched in most of their fixtures but they always put up a good fight, especially when facing favorites. This weekend was no different as the Sharks traveled to Toulon and despite facing a team whose backline’s payroll is more than Sale’s matchday 23, the boys from northern England didn’t stop fighting. Unfortunately, Toulon had too much class for them as the hosts put in a solid performance of their own.
Scarlets 22-22 Saracens – This was a very unlikely scoreline. Everybody knew that the Scarlets would be a tough proposition. However, not many expected them to be so tough and deny Saracens a win. However, in the friendly confines of Llanelli, Scarlets put on an impressive performance against the defending champs, giving as good as they got, and forcing the match to end in a draw.
Northampton Saints 28-21 Castres – Northampton decided to put out a top side for some unknown reason, mostly like pride. If the previous sentence seems facetious, it is because it is. Before Northampton were eliminated from playoff contention, they sent out a second string side to face Leinster, now that they are out of it, they sent out a strong side after the backlash head coach Jim Mallinder faced. It seemed to work as held on at home to defeat a difficult Castres side that fought them every step of the way.
Leinster 57-3 Montpellier – Montpellier like a typical French side decided to focus on the Top 14 and ignoring the Champions Cup. As such they threw out a weak side. Leinster made it no concern of theirs as they put the second string side to the sword.
Bordeaux-Bègles 6-9 Clermont Auvergne – Clermont won a turgid affair between the two Top 14 sides. Neither side played anything close to attractive rugby. Bordeaux did all they could to win the match but in the end it went to Clermont.
Exeter Chiefs 31-19 Ulster – The wheels seem to be falling off for Ulster. They are in a tough group and though they started this year’s cup competition well, they have struggled in the last two matches. It seems that being placed in the group of death was just a bridge too far this season.
Okay… Now on to our Expert Panel and the results of their European Champions Cup Picks!
Just to review, the Panel is comprised of Le Wolfman Ronan Nelson, contrived Kiwi Johnathan Wicklow Barberie, RWU’s French connection James Harrington of Jamesonrugby, West Ghana’s Rugby Rain Man Junoir Blaber, Paul Bains of DrivingMaul.com, the infamous Ireland National, Declan Yeats, Film expert and Wales Rugby connoisseur Jonny Lewis, and Jeff Pagano of Harpinonrugby.net . They all must pick the winners of each match and a Pick Of The Week, for which they must also provide the margin of victory.
Blaber is in the lead with Harrington and Yeats in hot pursuit. Unfortunately Bains, Lewis and Nelson is still bringing up the rear. There is also a four-way tie for second place in the Pick of the Week stakes with Nelson and JWB tied for the lead.
That’s all for now, please feel free to comment below, look for and “Like” our Facebook Rugby Wrap Up Page and follow us on Twitter@: @RugbyWrapUp, @Junoir Blaber, @Ronan Nelson, @JamesOnRugby, @JonnyLewisFilms, @HarpinOnRugby, @DrivingMaul, @MeetTheMatts, @Luke Bienstock, @Ronan Nelson, @Brian C Cole and @Declan Yeats.
And as always, stay low and keep pumping those legs.