Dec 05, 2013
Heineken Cup Pool 3 - The story so far
The Heineken Cup returns this week after a seven week hiatus when Saracens in Pool 3 play Zebre Rugby away in Parma, Italy.
Pool 3 consists of four-time Heineken Cup champions Toulouse, west Irish province Connacht, Italian side Zebre Rugby and Saracens; and in this article Henry Fraser recaps how the Pool has gone so far for each of the four teams;
Pool 3. After 2 rounds. - Results
Round 1 -
- Connacht 17 - 23 Saracens
- Toulouse 35 - 5 Zebre
Round 2 -
- Saracens 16 - 17 Toulouse
- Zebre 6 - 33 Connacht
Toulouse - 9 points, won 2, 1 four try bonus point.
Toulouse faced a Zebre team in only their second season of Heineken rugby and the power and experienced shone through. They earned a comfortable first round bonus point win at home to Zebre, Toulouse took an early one point lead after the first round. They took this confidence into their second round match against Sarries at Wembley and the experience of the four time winners seemed to be the difference. A closely fought battle that gave the French powerhouse a significant early lead and control of the pool.
Saracens - 5 points, won 1, lost 1.
A tough couple of fixtures to start their European campaign. An opening game away to Connacht in a windy Galway is always tough at a ground where some big names have been taken down. To concede a losing bonus point would having been disappointing considering how the game started, but an away win in the Heineken Cup is valuable. It was unfortunate that this was followed by home defeat to Toulouse by only one point. Home wins are vital in the pool stage and it has put some pressure on Sarries to now win away.
Connacht - 5 points, won 1, lost 1.
It seems this small rugby province live for and come alive in the Heineken Cup. They sit bottom in their league already have five points in the pool. After a slow start against Sarries they fought their way back into the game and pushed them right to the end earning a losing bonus point that could be crucial. They have proved their worth at home to the rest of the pool. A trip to Zebre put them right back into this group with a convincing win which put them level on points with Sarries.
Zebre - 0 points, lost 2.
So far it hasn't been the happiest of times for Zebre. An opening round game away to Toulouse is tough for the most seasoned competitors. To concede a try bonus really takes the wind out of your sails and is tough for a non experienced team to recover from. However the highlight of the pool will be Dion Berryman's try, outrageous! A second round home loss to Connacht seems to have already dashed all hope of success in this group.
It is always hard to predict how the pool will finish after just two rounds especially with the mix of teams in this pool.
We will know a whole lot more after these back to back games and who are the true contenders for qualification. No doubt this pool will be close throughout.