Mathew Brown – The Rugby Channel Column
ARC, GP14 & TOP 14!
February just keeps getting better and better!
Last weekend on The Rugby Channel the United States comprehensively defeated Canada in the second round of the Americas Rugby Championship, the top two teams in Conference B of the Guinness PRO14 were upset, and an unbeaten Bristol were pushed for eighty minutes by a determined Ealing Trailfinders club in a crucial Greene King IPA Championship match.
All that high-caliber action was available for you to watch LIVE on The Rugby Channel with an annual subscription that costs only $59.99 for an entire year. Subscribe Now and you will be able to go back and watch every minute of it on our Video On Demand player, plus you’ll be all set to tune in to this weekend’s even more stellar offering of thrilling rugby.
Saturday’s a full-on rugby day with an international and professional quadruple header featuring the United States meeting Chile in the ARC, Leinster taking on Scarlets and Cardiff hosting Munster in the GP14, plus Lyon squaring off against Clermont and Racing 92 clashing with La Rochelle in the Top 14.
That’s three fantastic competitions, five incredible matches, and ten teams to either cheer for or root against, all in less than a twenty-four hour span on The Rugby Channel!
This Eagles team is fun to watch!
Under Gary Gold’s leadership in the ARC they’re getting the basics right at the set pieces, playing hard-nosed defense with uncompromising tackling, and providing plenty of excitement on offense when opportunities present themselves.
The Eagles dotted down four tries in windy conditions at Papa Murphy’s Park, earning a bonus point and propelling them to the top of the ARC table.
The home crowd didn’t have to wait long for scoring to take place as scrumhalf Nate Augspurger crossed in the seventh minute, followed by Ryan Matyas’s five pointer ten minutes later. Both were converted by Will Magie. Canada responded with a converted try of their own as the USA took a 14-7 lead into halftime.
After an early Canadian penalty kick, the second forty was all Eagles as Hanco Germishuys barreled over in the fifty-fourth minute then Matyas added his second late to put the contest out of reach.
The only troubling issue that seems to have crept into the Eagles game in the ARC is the propensity to have men sent to the sin bin. They’ve had three yellows in two matches, Saturday’s recipient being Number 8 Cam Dolan who dump-tackled a Canadian and then engaged in an off the ball skirmish with Nick Blevins. The USA’s discipline has been pretty solid overall but they’ll want to curtail this unfortunate trend as the tourney continues.
If you haven’t checked out this latest win over Canada, give it a look on VOD and observe a committed and improving USA team.
Sometimes in rugby things just don’t go your way and that’s what happened to Leinster in Edinburgh. The visiting Irish province won the battles for territory and possession but they couldn’t overcome Edinburgh making the most of their limited chances.
Leinster crafted some excellent tries through multiple phases and coordinated play. Edinburgh seemingly created theirs out of nothing. The lead went back and forth throughout the evening but the deciding play was a clever chip kick that turned into a matchwinner for the home squad.
Obviously both teams were without their multitude of stars who were on Ireland and Scotland duty but you couldn’t see any drop off in intensity or effort on a chilly night at Myreside.
Edinburgh’s win pushed them up to only three points behind third place Ulster as both teams eye a playoff spot at the end of the season. Surprisingly, Leinster’s close loss while scoring four tries moved them into first in Conference B because the Scarlets also fell in an away fixture.
This is guaranteed entertainment, so try it out with our VOD option.
Once again both sides had to rely on their roster depth during the international call up window but both showed that they’ve got loads of talent right throughout their extended squads. The home crowd at Stadio Monigo was treated to a rare victory over the Conference B leaders and it was obvious that they enjoyed and appreciated it.
Benetton scored two tries in the first half and two in the second and made that stand up against one of the top tryscoring teams in the competition. The Scarlets threatened to get back into it with a couple of second half tries but were still denied any points from the encounter as their late comeback came up short.
Watch this one and you’ll see a rare hat trick from Benetton winger Monty Ioane.
Ealing needed this win to keep Bristol within striking distance and they gave everything they had to make it happen. It wasn’t to be though, as superior talent won out with the visitors escaping yet again to remain undefeated in the Greene King IPA Championship.
For a second division comp there sure is an awful lot of good rugby being played by and against Bristol as they build their team for another crack at the Premiership next September.
Definitely worth a look!
The United States continues their ARC title defense with their third consecutive home match, this time welcoming Chile to Titan Stadium in Fullerton, California. The Eagles are 2-0 in previous ARC meetings with Los Condores, racking up one-sided scorelines in both tests.
The only other times the two avian mascoted squads have confronted each other was back in 2002 when they split a close home-and-away series.
On paper this shouldn’t be a tough assignment for the USA but they have been tripped up before when playing down to the opposition in this tournament, especially when they lose some of their professional players back to their clubs.
It’s always exciting to see the Eagles in action and this fixture will be no exception, watch it exclusively LIVE on Saturday on The Rugby Channel!
This was always going to be a big match but it just got a lot bigger because both sides are coming off unexpected losses. The last time these two met was in the 2016/17 GP14 Semifinal where the Scarlets stunned Leinster in Dublin by beating them with fourteen players.
Leinster has moved ahead of Scarlets on points differential in Conference B so the winner at the RDS will get the top spot on the ladder plus renewed momentum heading into a critical section of the campaign.
Get up early to see it right from the opening kickoff!
The fourth place Blues need this win at home if they’re going to put any pressure at all on the third place Cheetahs, who they beat last weekend and now trail by 12 points.
Second place Munster are also doing some chasing, they’re 12 points adrift of the Conference A leaders Glasgow, who they’re scheduled to play next week in Cork.
Back in September Munster gave Cardiff a 39-16 thumping. As usual this will be a physical encounter that promises to produce some hard-hitting rugby.
The Top 14 roars back into action on The Rugby Channel beginning with Lyon versus Clermont. Lyon are in seventh position with 42 points, one of ten teams still in the hunt for playoff berths.
Clermont are the defending title holders but they’ve been hit hard by injuries this year and have fallen to tenth place with 32 points. A road win over neighbors Lyon would keep realistic hope alive, for at least another week, of retaining their crown.
This is an entirely different type of fixture as Racing 92 and La Rochelle are both sitting on 50 points in second and third, only one behind top of the table Montpellier.
La Rochelle won the first meeting 16-9 in October at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre. On Sunday Racing 92 will host La Rochelle for the first time at their new venue, the U Arena in Paris.
These are two of the most talented teams in the tournament with stars littering their respective team sheets, so expect a tight affair with the probability of individual brilliance determining the outcome!
TOP 14 HIGHLIGHTS SHOW – ROUND 17
After Round 17 has concluded, be sure to check The Rugby Channel homepage for this comprehensive look at all the matches from the Top 14, well worth your time!
Here’s what we have for you this weekend. The Eagles LIVE in the ARC, two massive Guinness PRO14 clashes, plus two Top 14 contests with playoff implications aplenty. Don’t delay, Subscribe Now to The Rugby Channel and get ready for a huge Saturday meal of savory rugby with a special Sunday French dessert!