Belfast Telegraph

Heineken Cup: Crushed Aironi at lowest ebb

Last Friday night’s game in Edinburgh was never likely to result in a win, but to concede 50 points, and seven tries, to Michael Bradley’s in-form side was another low in a season of seemingly deepening troubles for Aironi.

Aironi, admittedly only in their second season, now head into a European double-header with Ulster with a truly miserable run of form strewn behind them.

Indeed, last season’s epic 28-27 defeat of Biarritz, in the Heineken Cup, certainly caused shockwaves but has increasingly looked like a flash-in-the-pan result as Aironi, unlike fellow Italian side Treviso, have failed to kick on from that high point last November.

At least there was something potentially positive at the beginning of the week for the Viadana-based side as it was announced that star flanker Mauro Bergamasco is on his way after his time in France.

Yes, but it’s asking a lot for Bergamasco to become the catalyst for an upturn in fortunes. If he is to make any impression with his employers then displays such as the one shown at Edinburgh will somehow have to be consigned to the past.

Aironi were milled up front in Edinburgh and, well, had little chance from there. And last weekend’s crushingly heavy defeat now means that in their last three games — away to Clermont (54-3) in Europe, away to Cardiff (38-0) in the League and then losing 50-10 also in the League at Edinburgh — Aironi have conceded a frightening 142 points while only registering a measly 13. In terms of pure revenge it was particularly sweet for Bradley’s charges as they have been the only side the Italians have downed so far this season after playing 12 competitive games in both frontline competitions.

It’s hardly surprising that they are well off the pace at the bottom of the PRO12 table with only six points from 10 games.

Europe, of course, hardly looks like a better prospect. They lost 28-12 to Leicester Tigers at home and then got whacked at Clermont.

Tonight, the most they can realistically aim for is to prevent Ulster getting their badly-needed five points, anything better would be an unexpected bonus.

Belfast Telegraph

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