Monday, May 9, 2011

Aviva Premiership Round 22


The final round of the 2010-2011 Aviva Premiership confirmed the relegation of Leeds Carnegie to the second division after the Northern English side went down fighting to semi finalists, the Northampton Saints in Northampton on Saturday. The final score was 31-24 to the Saints but Leeds Carnegie were the better team in the first half and held a 24-15 halftime lead. Their failre to score a single point after the interval proved to be crucial as had Leeds lost by one point less they would have picked up a bonus point which would have meant they avoided relegation. The result surely casts doubt over Northampton´s credentials to win the Aviva Premiership as well as the Heineken Cup, with the Saints already qualified to take on Leinster in the European Final. Former Argentina international tighthead prop, Juan Gómez, started for Leeds alongside USA international prop Mike MacDonald.

All other matches took place on Saturday. An all-London clash took place at the Twickenham Stoop as the Harlequins hosted second placed side, and guaranteed home Semi-Finalists, Saracens. Both teams scored one try each but it was the boot of Owen Farrell that proved the difference as Saracens pulled off a 16-13 victory. Argentina international winger, Gonzalo Camacho played on the rightwing for the Quins and was joined in the secondhalf by the one-time capped Puma, Benjamín Urdapilleta. Argentina born Italian international prop, Carlos Nieto started at tighthead prop for Saracens ans was joined in the starting XV by USA international secondrower, Hayden Smith and fullback Chris Wyles who continued his run as the teams outside centre. Saracens will host Gloucester in one semifinal and will need to play much better if form is anything to go by as Gloucester had a massive 68-17 home victory over the Sale Sharks.

Bath finished just outside of the semi-finals in fifth place despite scoring an impressive bonus point 42-12 win over the Newcastle Falcons in Bath. Newcastle finish bottom of the table equal with Leeds Carnegie but hold onto their spot in the Aviva Premiership after finishing with a better for and against record. Retired Pumas secondrower, Ignacio Fernández Lobbe played the full 80 minutes for Bath and scored the second of Bath´s five tries. The former Argentine international continues to play at the top level despite retiring from international rugby similar to Perpignan secondrower, Rimas Alvarez who has also retired. The pair were key players for Argentina at Rugby World Cup 2007.

At the start of the season, the newcomers to the premirt league, the Exeter Chiefs were given little chance of success and were tipped as the heavyweight favorite to finish bottom of the table and thus be relegated back to the second division after only one season. The South-West English side proved yet again that they adeserve their place in the Aviva Premiership as Exeter embarrased former glory side London Wasps in Exeter. the sides 21-8 victory sees Exeter finish above Lodnon Wasps in eighth position and thus ahead of two premiership winning sides in recent years - London Wasps and Sale Sharks. Uncapped Argentine flyhalf, Ignacio Mieres started for Exeter and kicked three penalties and a conversion.

Top of the table, and the seemingly virtually unbeatable Leicester Tigers hosted the London Irish Exles. The Tigers started slowly but came right after the interval to notch up a 32-23 victory and pick up a bonus point to finish a remarkable 24 points ahead of London Irish on the table. Argentine international loosehead prop, Marcus Ayerza started for Leicester alongaside Argentine born, Italian international tighthead prop, Martín Castrogiovanni. Argentine international winger, Horacio Agulla came off the bench to score the Tigers´ second try.

Final Standings

1 Leicester Tigers 78
2 Saracens 76
3 Gloucester 67
4 Northampton Saints 65
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5 Bath 62
6 London Irish Exiles 54
7 The Harlequins 52
8 Exeter Chiefs 43
9 London Wasps 43
10 Sale Sharks 32
11 Newcastle Falcons 23
12 Leeds Carnegie 23

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