Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Aviva Premiership - Round 21


The penultimate round of the Aviva Premiership took place over the weekend and despite one round left to play, the top four places have all been taken and the semi final venues also confirmed. Top of the table side, the Leicester Tigers will host one semi final after the competitions best side defeated the relegation threatened Newcastle Falcons 24-13 in Newcastle on Friday. Newcaslt e failed to pick up a bonus point but remain ahead of bottom placed Leeds Carnegie on points difference. The Tigers had three Argentine players in the team in their victory over the Falcons with Pumas loosehead prop, Marcos Ayerza returning from suspension to start in the frontrow. Pumas winger Horacio Agulla came off the bench towards the end of the match as did the Argentine born Italian international tighthead prop, Martín Castrogiovanni. Leicester will host either Gloucester or the Northampton Saints in a semi final, depending on who finishes with less points.

Friday nights other match was a lower table clash featuring the fallen powers who won the 2006 English Premiership, the Sale Sharks. Sale hosted the Exeter Chiefs and expected a win but Exeter demonstrated again that they are not in the Aviva Premiership by chance in defeating the hosts 30-24. The result means the Chiefs cannot finish lower than their current position of ninth. Uncapped Argentine flyhalf, Ignacio Mieres started in the 10 shirt for the Chiefs and scored 10 points. Exeter host the London Wasps in their final Aviva Premiership match with the winner finishing in eighth place and the loser in ninth. Win, lose or draw on the other hand will not see Sale's position on the table change.

The London Wasps were in action on Saturday with a home clash vs Bath and were badly beaten with Bath notching up a 43-10 victory. Bath's victory was important as the team is in danger of missing out on a place in next seasons Heineken Cup. The London Wasps, on the other hand, are not too far behind to qualify for next seasons Heineken Cup. Retired Argentina international secondrower, Ignacio Fernández Lobbe played the full match fo Bath. The western England side now has two matches vs the Newcastle Falcons and will qualify for the Heineken Cup if they succeed in winning one of these matches. Two teams who will be in next seasons Heineken Cup went head to head in west London on Saturday as the London Irish Exiles played host to the Northampton Saints. The Saints victory puts London Irish too far behind to make the final four but in securing a bonus point in losing 26-20 the Exiles will be in the Heineken Cup again in 2011-2012.

Two matches also took place on Sunday with Saracens securing a home semi final after impressing with a big 35-12 victory over Gloucester in what was a second vs third Aviva Premiership match. The teams are now likely to meet again in the semi finals. Argentina born Italian international tighthead prop, Carlos Nieto started in the frontrow for Saracens and USA international fullback, Chris Wyles played outside centre. Another London side, the Harlequins, remain in contention for a place in next seasons Heineken Cup after impressing with a 38-3 victory over Leeds Carnegie on Sunday. Leeds Carnegie now appear certain to drop to the second division as the teams remaining match is against the Northampton Saints in an away fixture. USA international prop, Mike MacDonald was on the bench for Leeds and Argentina international winger Gonzalo Camacho started on the wing for the Quins. Both players are certain to play at Rugby World Cup 2011 while another Argentina player in conention, Tomás Vallejos Cinalli, played the final half hour for the Quins.

Aviva Premiership Table

1 Leicester Tigers 73
2 Saracens 72
3 Gloucester 62
4 Northampton Saints 61
5 London Irish Exiles 54 
6 Bath 53
7 Harlequins 51
8 London Wasps 43
9 Exeter Chiefs 41
10 Sale Sharks 32
11 Newcastle Falcons 22
12 Leeds Carnegie 22 

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