Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Americas Players in Aviva Premiership - Round 16
Round 16 of the Aviva Premiership took place on the weekend with a full round of six matches taking place without international European players who were playing for their respective national sides in the Six Nations. There were however a number of international players from the Americas who will play at Rugby World Cup 2011 in action as players from Argentina and the United States were again showing why the Americas should host a Rugby World Cup on the next possible occasion as the region is contributing quality players to the best leagues on the planet.
The round started on Friday evening with premiership strugglers the Sale Sharks hosting leaders the Leicester Tigers. Sale scored the only try of the match but the boot of Irish flyhalf Jeremy Staunton proved decisive as Leicester won the match 18-16. The win sees the Tigers maintain their dominance at the head of the premiership table and sees the Sharks stay well off the pace in tenth place. Two certainties for Rugby World Cup 2011 for Argentina started for Leicester with Horacio Agulla playing wing and Marcus Ayerza playing loosehead prop.
Three matches took place on Saturday, all of which had implications for the top four sopts in the premiership. The Exeter Chiefs hosted Bath in what was a tryless match with all points coming from penalty kicks with Olly Barkley kicking four for Bath and Gareth Steenson kicking three for Exeter which meant Bath won the contest 12-9. In doing so Bath claim fourth spot on the ladder. Exeter claimed a bonus point for losing by 7 points or less. It was the Ignacio show with retired Pumas secondrower Ignacio Fernández Lobbe came off the bench in the second half for Bath while the uncapped Argentina duo of flyhalf Ignacio Mieres and prop Ignacio Elosu were both on the bench for Exeter.
The first of two London vs London battles took place on Saturday with London Irish hosting the Harlequins in Reading in what was yet another dour Aviva Premiership match. No tries were scored as the home side won the game 15-9. Uncapped Argentine secondrower Tomás Vallejos Cinalli and one time caped flyhalf Benjamín Urdapilleta were both on the bench for the Harlequins but Pumas winger Gonzalo Camacho was rested. Argentine international scrumhalf, Alfredo Lalane did not feature for London Irish. All of these players should be in the attention of rugby fans worldwide as they are all in with a chance of playing at Rugby World Cup 2011 with Camacho almost certain to be Argentina´s right winger.
The third match of the day saw previous premiership leaders the Northampton Saints again fail to spark as they continue to have it tough as the club is missing players to international duty. They hosted Gloucester who scored an important 18-16 victory which sees them sit comfortable in third place while Northampton continue to fall further off the pace. The sides missing players who are involved in the Six Nations such as Ben Foden and Chris Ashton will really need to perform for the club when they return or else the side will miss out on the playoffs. The home loss to Gloucester sees Northampton officially drop out of the Top 4.
On Sunday London Wasps hosted fellow London side Saracens and were not impressive as they went down 26-15 with Saracens scoring the only try of the match. The London Wasps only have themselves to blame, however, as three players picked up yellow cards. Argentina born Italian international prop Carlos Nieto played tighthead prop for Saracens and the USA Eagles international pair of winger Chris Wyles and secondrower Hayden Smith both also started for the winning side. Both USA internationals are certain to be key players for their country at this years Rugby World Cup.
The final match took place latter on on Sunday with a bottom of the table clash with Leeds Carnegie taking on Newcastle and having a fantastic opportunity to move ahead of them on the table. It was not to be however as Leeds Carnegie put in another poor performance and in doing so have given Newcastle a seven point advantage in the premiership. The result casts serious doubt on the future of Leeds Carnegie in the Aviva Premiership. It will take serious improvements and bad results from Newcastle to see Leeds stay in the premiership. USA international prop Mike MacDonald played loosehead prop for the home side.
Aviva Premiership Table
1 Leicester 56
2 Saracens 51
3 Gloucester 44
4 Bath 40
5 Northampton 39
6 Harlequins 39
7 London Irish 39
8 London Wasps 34
9 Exeter Chiefs 32
10 Sale Sharks 21
11 Newcastle 16
12 Leeds 9