Sunday, January 2, 2011

Aviva Premiership - Round 12

Round 12 of the Aviva Premiership took place on Saturday and Sunday with a full round of six matches as the snow that has been disrupting matches across the UK and Ireland seemingly gave way for the start of Rugby World Cup year. Three matches were played on Saturday, the first of which in Northern England with the bottom placed side and the only side yet to win an Aviva Premiership match this season, Leeds Carnegie, hosting former English champions Gloucester and getting a 15-13 win. The home side scored two tries to one and featured USA international prop Mike MacDonald.

The upsets were not restricted to Leeds, however, as Aviva Premiership leaders the Northampton Saints hosted London based side Harlequins and lost their first Premiership match of the season. The Harlequins pulled off a 16-13 upset. Both teams each scored one try. English scrumhalf Danny Care touched down for the Harlequins and the referee awarded Northampton a penalty try. Uncapped Argentine secondrower Tomas Vallejos Cinalli was on the bench for the Harlequins and came on in the second half as a replacement. His Argentine clubmates Gonzalo Camacho and Benjamin Urdapilleta did not play.

Saturday´s other match was similar to the first two in that the better side in terms of the competition ladder was defeated. 2009 Premiership finalist London Irish hosted Bath and lost 25-24 despite outscoring the Western English side by three tries to one. It was a classic with Bath centre Olly Barkley the hero as he slotted two penalties in the final eight minutes and in total scored 20 of his sides 25 points. Former Pumas secondrower Nacho Fernández Lobbe played the final quarter for the winners but Argentine scrumhalf Alfredo Lalanne did not feature for London Irish.

Sundays three matches were more to the script but not entirely as strugglers Sale Sharks scored an upset win vs Saracens at home winning 28-22 after going into halftime with a 28-9 lead. Sale´s three tries to one victory was their fourth of the season and will ease their fears of entering the relegation zone. USA internationals Hayden Smith and Chris Wyles did not feature for Saracens. Wyles missed the game after fracturing a bone in last rounds match.

Sunday also saw the London Wasps score a big 33-16 victory over Newcastle in London. The result spells success for the London Wasps as they move into the top four of the championship ahead of London Irish but should send warning signs out to Newcastle as they sit in 11th position, ahead of only Leeds who have closed the gap to three points. Leeds Carnegie will have a chance to move into 11th position next Sunday as they play Bath. Newcastle will host the Sale Sharks.

The Premiership has a new leader as the champions from the past two seasons, the Leicester Tigers won an away match vs the newcomers to elite level English rugby - the Exeter Chiefs in Exeter in the final sunday match. The Tigers 22-15 point win wasa three try to zero victory involving three Argentine players in Pumas prop Marcos Ayerza, winger Horacio Agulla and Italian international Martín Castrogiovanni. The star of the match was Leicester backrower Jordan Crane who scored two tries.

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