Two years gone and Timisoara Saracens meet Heidelberger Ruderklub again, this time clashing over the spot available for the 2018/19 Challenge Cup

 

28.03.2018

Timisoara Saracens meet again the Germans from Heidelberger Ruderklub, this time for the last two decisive matches of the 2017/18 Continental Shield Playoff, the winner being guaranteed a spot for the 2018/19 ER Challenge Cup

 

 

The European Rugby Continental Shield, organized by the European Professional Club Rugby, in conjunction with the Italian Rugby Federation and Rugby Europe, featured this season 4 teams from the Italian Eccellenza (Pataro Rugby Calvisano, Femi-CZ Rugby Rovigo, Rugby Petrarca and Rugby Viadana), joined by Romania’s Timisoara Saracens, Georgia’s RC Batumi, Germany’s Heidelberger Ruderklub and Portugal’s CDU Lisbon. The 8 teams, split into 2 pools, disputed their chance to move up to the 2018/19 ER Challenge Cup.

 

The aim of the Continental Shield is to increase club rugby’s popularity and coverage across Europe, while ensuring two valuable places for the ER Challenge Cup to both emerging and established clubs, the competition stimulates club rugby development across the continent.

 

Following the pool stage and the intermediary Playoff round of January 2018, Timisoara Saracens and Heidelberger Ruderklub are the two teams, both from Pool A, to move on to this season’s Continental Shield decisive Playoff round.

 

Timisoara Saracens have secured their spot to the Playoffs from the position of Pool A’s leaders, having summed up 14 points after defeating the Italians from Petrarca Rugby and Pataro Calvisano Rugby, as well as the Portuguese debutants of CDU Lisbon and after gaining the defensive point out of their first loss against RC Batumi in Georgia.

 

For the second stage of the Continental Shield, Timisoara Saracens have had their chance to avenge their defeat in Georgia as they clashed twice more with RC Batumi within the intermediary Playoffs of January, to win both times and eliminate Georgia’s representative from this season’s European race.

The first leg of the HA was played on January 13th 2018 in Batumi, Georgia and Romania’s champions took the win by 11-6, after 80 minutes of “traditional” Romania – Georgia forwards clash, mainly favoured by the pouring rain throughout the match. Following Timisoara Saracens’ drop goal signed Jody Rose and RC Batumi’s penalty kick, the first half ended in a tie (3-3). The second half displayed Timisoara Saracens eagerness to avenge their loss and after hooker Andrei Radoi’s try and fullback Gabriel Conache’s converted penalty, Sarries took home the win.

The second HA leg against RC Batumi was hosted by Timisoara Saracens on Cluj Arena on January 20th 2018 and the Romanian lions won again, this time securing a wider margin, closing after 80 minutes at 21 to 12. Sarries’ points were scored by Madalin Lemnaru (try), Tevita Manumua (penalty kick) and Valentin Poparlan (try) in the first half, followed by captain Marian Drenceanu’s try and Gabriel Conache’s penalty kick in the second half.

Having summed up 32 points (11 from HA1 and 21 from HA2), while RC Batumi managed 18 points (6 from HA1 and 12 HA2), Timisoara Saracens qualified for this spring’s Continental Shield Playoffs.

 

 

The current opponents in the Playoffs, Heidelberger Ruderklub have qualified in January after defeating the Italians from Pataro Calvisano Rugby. Thus, Romania’s and Germany’s sides will meet again two years after their first encounter of 2016, this time to clash twice over the only available spot for the 2018/19 Challenge Cup.

 

Timisoara Saracens’ first encounter with Heidelberger RK was on January 16th 2016, for the last round of the 2015/16 pool stage within the same European competition. The match played in Heidelberg ended then with Sarries’ win by 10 to 3, following Viliami Moala’s only try of the match, scored after the first 8 minutes of play. One conversion and a penalty kick later, Timisoara Saracens were crowned undefeated leaders of Pool B.

 

This season, however, the two sides will compete in the Playoffs, on a round robin basis, the winner to be decided after the second leg, based on the overall points scored during both matches.

The team to come out with the highest overall points will automatically be qualified for the 2018/19 ER Challenge Cup, as well as for the 2017/18 Continental Shield Final in Bilbao. The other Finalist and Challenge Cup qualifier will be the winner of the second round robin Playoff meeting Russian teams Enisei STM and Krasny Yar, participants within this season’s Challenge Cup pool stage.

 

The March 31st fixture will be judged by the Georgian referees Nika Amashukeli (referee), Saba Abulashvili and Lasha Iashkhia (assistant referees). Nika Amashukeli and Saba Abulashvili will be returning to Timisoara for the second time. Their first time on the Dan Paltinisanu Stadium was on 9th December 2017, for the 3rd round pool stage fixture Timisoara Saracens v Pataro Calvisano Rugby, which kicked off on mild autumn rain and finished under a thick cloud of snow flakes.

 

Playoff calendar:

  • 31.03.2018 - Timisoara Saracens v Heidelberger RK, KO h14:00, Dan Platinisanu Stadium, Timisoara
  • 21.04.2018 – Heidelberger RK v Timisoara Saracens, KO h15:00 (local time), Sportzentrum Sud, Heidelberg
 
 
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