Monday, May 16, 2011

Aviva Premiership Semi Finals

England´s premier rugby competition, the Aviva Premiership had its finalists confirmed over the weekend with the first semi final taking place on Saturday and the second on Sunday. The final of the Aviva Premiership is to be a rematch of last seasons English Premiership Final in what was then called the Guinness Premiership. The first semi-final featured first vs fourth from the regular season as the Leicester Tigers hosted the impressive Northampton Saints at Welford Road. In a dour match, the Tigers secured their place in yet another English Premiership Final after winning the game 11-3. Both sides were packed with English international players certain to start for England at Rugby World Cup 2011. Both Leicester props, however, were from Argentina with Los Pumas loosehead prop, Marcos Ayerza packing down in the frontrow alongside Argentina born Italian international tighthead prop Martín Castrogiovanni. Both players outplayed their opponents with Ayerza playnig well in general and bon one occassion breaking the defensive line. Argentina international winger, Horacio Agulla entered the match as a second-half replacement in the 49th minute.

The match, however, was dominated by a fist fight between English international winger Chris Ashton and Samoan born but future English winger Manu Tuilagi which saw both players yellow carded in the 32nd minute. The incident is likely to see both players suspended and miss their respective matches as Northampton will play in the Heineken Cup Final latter this month vs Leinster and Leicester will, of course, play in the Aviva Premiership Final. The games only try was scored by the older brother of Manu Tuilagi, Alesana Tuilagi who looms as Samoa´s key player for Rugby World Cup 2011.

The second semi-final was played in London on Sunday at the home of Saracens rugby, Watford. The Saracens hosted the game as the second best side after the regular season and went up against third placed Gloucester. The match was similar to the first semi final in that it was low scoring and featured merely one try. The young an promising Saracens flyhalf, Owen Farrell  was man of the match but seemingly only because he slotted four penalty goals because he was unable to work as a flyhalf in putting players through gaps and creating tries. He had the London based side ahead 9-3 at the interval.

In the second half Gloucester scored first but it took all of 28 minutes as former Welsh international flyhalf, Nicky Robinson went over for the games only try. Robinson scored all of his sides points and following his converted try, Gloucester were winning the contest 10-9 with only eleven minutes remaining on the clock. Farrell, hit back with his forth penalty and Saracens' only points of the second half to put his side 12-210 ahead with eight minutes remaining. USA international fullback, Chris Wyles, played the match at what has become his regular Saracnes position of outside centre. He was joined in the starting XV by Argentine born Italian international prop, Carlos Nieto who started at tighthead prop.

The final will be played on May 28 with Leicester Tigers vs Saracens taking place at Twickenham. The two sides met in last seasons final with Leicster coming out on top.

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