Thursday, March 10, 2011
Americas Players in Aviva Premiership - Round 17
Round 17 of the Aviva Premiership took place over the weekend with a huge result occuring in the rounds first match on Friday. Strugglers Newcastle backed up their round 16 win over bottom placed Leeds Carnegie with a 33-18 win over London based Harlequins in Newcastle. The result does wonders for Newcastle as they look to in the least stay clear of Leeds Carnegie so that they remain in the Aviva Premiership next season. The result also all but means the Harlequins chances of making the play-offs are over. The new boy in the Pumas training squad, Tomás Vallejos Cinalli came off the bench for the Quins and the one-capepd Pumas flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta was also on the bench but did not play.
The top of the table and looking invinsible, Leicester Tigers hosted Saracens on Saturday and struggled as the team missed opportunities and went down 15-14. The result sees Saracens cut Leicester´s lead to two championship points and puts both sides well clear of Gloucester in third place. The match featured a number of players from the Americas who will feature at this years Rugby World Cup. The Pumas duo of loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza and winger Horacio Agulla both played for the Tigers as did Argentina born Italian international tighthead prop, Martín Castrogiovanni. Saracens had an Argentina born Italian international prop of their own in Carlos Nieto as well as USA Eagles international winger Chris Wyles.
A local derby took place in the west country as Gloucester scored a good win over Bath to well and truely put their name on third place of the Aviva Premiership ladder. Retired Argentine international secondrower, Ignacio Fernández Lobbe played the final quarter for Bath as the former English champion with the Sale Sharks continues to tackle hard and leave his mark in what is his final season of professional rugby. The loss is tolerable for Bath as the club remains in the top four, but only by one point as the Northampton Saints look to return to book a place in the semi finals.
The Northampton Saints failed to take the opportunity, however, as they faced the Exeter Chiefs in Exeter on Sunday. Northampton were yet again defeated as the team continues to struggle without its group of English international players. Exeter´s 30-9 victory must rate up there with the best of the season and indeed in the history of the club. There were two players from Argentina on the field for Exeter, both secondhalf replacements. Flyhalf Ignacio Mieres and prop Ignacio Elosu are two players who have never played for Los Pumas and will nto feature at this years Rugby World Cup. Their presence playing at the top level of English rugby is another reminder of how good Argentina is and the contribution the country is making to the global game.
Newcastle´s success on Friday night was matched by bottom of the table Leeds Carnegie who defeated London Irish 27-19 in Sunday´s second match. It is only the second win of the season for Leeds who have been well beaten in their two previous matches. The win over London Irish gives them a chance to remain in the premiership and certainly keeps the dream alive. Leeds won the match with international props from both Argentina and the United States helping out their cause. USA veteran, Mike MacDonald scored a secondhalf try as he came on from the bench. he weas joined by former Argentina prop Juan Gomez who played the final 30 minutes of the match. Leeds now need two, or realistically three more victories and for Newcastle or Sale to lose.
The Sale Sharks may indeed be on their way out as the 2006 champions were again on the losing side, this time vs London Wasps with the London side winning a high scoring match 33-26 in London on Sunday. Sale have struggled with the losses of their former coach and key players such as Sebastien Chabal and Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe to French clubs. The match was the only one of the round to not feature players from the Americas.
1 Leicester 57
2 Saracens 55
3 Gloucester 49
4 Bath 40
5 Northampton 39
6 Harlequins 39
7 London Irish 39
8 London Wasps 39
9 Exeter Chiefs 36
10 Sale Sharks 22
11 Newcastle 20
12 Leeds Carnegie 13