Monday, March 26, 2012

Aviva Premiership - Round 18 Wrap

Chris Wyles
Chris Wyles
Sale Sharks 9-45 Saracens
Sale´s hopes of qualifying for the Aviva Premiership Semi Finals are looking increasingly remote as Sharks now sit twelve points behind Leicester. The team also has a big fight to qualify for the Heineken Cup as it currently sits outside of the top six, two points behind Gloucester and nine behind Exeter. The sides thumping home loss on Friday to Saracens sees the London side keep up the pressure on the Harlequins. The games first try was scored by USA Eagles fullback, Chris Wyles who continued his Aviva Premiership selection at outside centre. Wyles played the full 80 minutes. His USA Eagles teammate, Hayden Smith did not feature. The Argentine-Italian prop, Carlos Nieto played the final 23 minutes for Saracens. 

Worcester Warriors 19-9 Newcastle Falcons
Worcester have all but ensures it will not be relegated back to the English second division while next years Aviva Premiership is set to be without any team from Northern England after Newcastle looks set to drop to the second division just like Leeds did a year ago. With England hosting Rugby World Cup 2015 and looking to utilize by cities to host World Cup matches there is certainly a lot of work to be done to have the North ready. Newcastle´s best hope of remaining is for the London Wasps to falle behind them but this is a tough ask as there are eight points between the teams in the standings. 

Harlequins 14-6 Bath
Tomás Vallejos
The Quins retain the top of the table after a poor display vs Bath. Had the London based side faced a different team it is likely that the result would have been different. Former All Black, Nick Evans summed up the day as he missed some routine penalty goals. Argentine secondrower, Tomás Vallejos Cinalli came off the bench to play the final ten minutes for the Quins but flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta did not feature. Both players could play for Argentine in The Rugby Championship but would likely to used as cover rather than in the starting XV. The best chance of either player making the match dat 22 would be the June international clash in the western Argentine city of San Juan with Los Pumas taking on Italy. The match will be played on the same day as the French Top 14 Orange Final which will rule out players participating in the final from playing for Argentina. It is also going to be seven days after the Semi Finals and the Aviva Premiership Final which could well mean Vallejos´ and Urdapilleta´ best chances of playing for Los Pumas will depend on the Harlequins not making the Aviva Premiership Final. Should the team not perform better than it did vs Bath on Saturday it is highly unlikely to get passed the Semi Finals. 

Gloucester 27-28 Exeter Chiefs
Gonzalo Camacho
A remarkable win for Exeter sees the highly underrated Chiefs team move very close to being in the Heineken Cup for the first time ever. Exeter are less than one win outside of the top four of the Aviva Premiership too and could, indeed, make the Semi Finals. One player who has had a lot to do with the success of Exeter this season has been Argentine flyhalf, Ignacio Mieres. He again started in the 10 shirt while Gonzalo Camacho started on the right wing. Both players were replaced in the 56th minute.Camacho is yet to score a try for Exeter, since his arrival following Rugby World Cup 2011. He also did not score a try for Los Pumas in New Zealand. His performances, nonetheless, have been of a high level with both his attack and defence being at a high level. He is certain to retain his place in Argentina´s squad this year but faces competition from four inform players - Horacio Agulla, Lucas González Amorosino, Martín Bustos Moyano and Juan Imhoff. These four alongside Camacho are likely to be the players picked to play in the back three for Argentina. 

Northampton Saints 32-15 London Wasps
Paul Emerick
The Saints stay in the Top four to keep Exeter out and may well yet claim a home Aviva Premiership Semi Final. The Wasps, in contrast, continue to look anything like a quality side and certainly are a shadow of the team which was English and European Champions less than a decade ago. The USA´s Samu Manoa did not play for the Northampton Saints but fellow USA international, Paul Emerick played 63 minutes for the London Wasps. Like Exeter, the Saints were in the second division a few season ago but now the team looks like being genuine contenders for the title currently held by Saracens. Despite being in fourth position, Northampton are playing better rugby than the leaders are would appear to be a strong chance alongside Saracens and the Leicester Tigers. These three appear to be the only ones capabel of winning the English title in 2012. 

Horacio Agulla
London Irish Exiles 32-41 Leicester Tigers
The best was saved for last London Irish and Leicester fought out a great battle with the lead changing hands throughout the match. With Horacio Agulla and Marcos Ayerza both starting, the Tigers continue to march on. Agulla played the full match while Ayerza played 66 minutes and the Argentine-Italian, Martín Castrogiovanni played the final 24 minutes from the bench. While there is yet to be an official word from the Leicester Tigers it would appear that the club cannto release Agulla like it had previously said it would do so. His form has put him amongst the best wingers in England this season and Leicester have even nominated him twice for player of the month. Canada´s Jebb Sinclair did not feature for London Irish. The Exiles´ season continuous to be disasterous and the club now has a massive task just to qualify for next seasons Heineken Cup. 

Sale vs Saracens

Worcester vs Newcastle

Harlequins vs Bath

Gloucester vs Exeter

Northampton Saints vs London Wasps

Aviva Premiership Standings
1 Harlequins 62
2 Saracens 59
3 Leicester 55
4 Northampton 52
5 Exeter Chiefs 49
6 Gloucester 42
7 Sale Sharks 40
8 Bath 39
9 London Irish 36
10 Worcester 35
11 London Wasps 27
12 Newcastle 19

* Semi Finals places
* Heineken Cup places
* Facing relegation

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