Monday, April 16, 2012

Aviva Premiership - Round 20 Wrap

Leicester Tigers
Horacio Agulla scores vs Northampton
Sale Sharks 16-9 Bath
A good win for the Sale Sharks sees the team move back into the top six and back into contention for a place in the 2012-2013 Heineken Cup.The teams chances of making the Aviva Premiership Semi Finals are remote, however, as the gap between fifth and sixth positions is too large for Sale to qualify. Bath sit in eighth position, five points behind Sale and look to be bound for a place in the Amlin Challenge Cup next season. 

Northampton Saints 21-35 Leicester Tigers
The match of the round proved to be a one-sided affair as the Leicester Tigers dominated the Saints at Franklin Gardens. The bonus point win sees the Tigers move into second place in the standings while the Saints drop out of the top four. The Tigers claimed the bonus point in the 53rd minute with a try to winger Horacio Agulla. The Puma continued his fine form, underling his player of the month award handed to him last week, his second of the season. In addition to scoring a try, Agulla set up Leicester´s second time with a well timed kick over the top down the touchline which he, himself regathered before putting Alesana Tuilagi over for a try. He also impressed in defence as he saved a certain try by putting in a text-book tackle on Paul Diggin which send the Saints winger into touch when a try looked certain. Marcos Ayerza started for the Tigers at loosehead prop and had a solid day in the frontrow, being awarded penalties as the Saints scrum buckled. USA secondrower, Samu Manoa started for the hosts, playing 67 minutes. 

Gloucester 20-29 Newcastle Falcons
A vital away victory for the Falcons means the only surviving team from Northern England in the Aviva Premiership may well stay on in the competition for next season. With the bottom of the table club being automatically relegated either Newcastle or the London Wasps will not be in England´s Top Flight next season. The two teams will meet in the final round and the match looks like it will determine who will be staying and who will be leaving the Aviva Premiership. Newcastle´s win in Gloucester cuts the gap to four points, or one win. 

London Irish 19-28 Saracens
Saturday´s first all-London clash was another forgettable match for the London Irish Exiles as the clubs dreadful season continues. The club is just looking forward for the season to end and then start again in August. Saracens, despite winning, drop behind the Leicester Tigers who scored a bonus point win. The match featured the three World Cup 2011 countries from the Americas with Argentina, Canada and the United States of America all having players involved in the contest. Canada´s Jebb Sinclair played the final quarter for the hosts, USA fullback Chris Wyles played the full match at outside centre and Argentine-Italian prop Carlos Nieto played 13 minutes from the bench. 

Worcester Warriors 26-31 Exeter Chiefs
Another away victory for the surprize team of the season sees the Chiefs all but guarantee a Heineken Cup place next season and move closer to securing a second first - a place in the Aviva Premiership Semi Finals. Exeter are two points ahead of the Northampton Saints who they will face in round 21 at home. The teams final nmatch will then be an away fixture against Saracens in London. Both will be tough matches but the way things have been going for the Chiefs it would appear that the club will, indeed, qualify for the Semi Finals. Should the club defeat Northampton then it will secure a top four placing. Both of the Chiefs´ Pumas started the match in Worcester with Gonzalo Camacho playing 70 minutes, with 10 minutes on the sidelines for being yellow carded. Ignacio Mieres played 66 minutes, landing nine points thanks to three penalties. He set up the Chiefs´ first try with a nice kick over the top. His success with the Chiefs is a double-edged sword as while he is playing himself into Los Pumas he will not play against Italy should Exeter make the Aviva Premiership Final as the match is seven days before the Pumas take on Italy in San Juan. 

Harlequins 33-17 London Wasps
The second all-London clash was not the result the visitors were looking for as the Wasps have been going through tough times on and off the field recently. With the Falcons having upset Gloucester the Wasps are now going to need to dig deep to stay in the Aviva Premiership. The Harlequins, in contrast, are top of the table after another victory but are hardly comfortable as a the style of play that Leicester are producing has the Tigers looking like heavy favorites to win the title this season. The Quins won with two fringe Pumas players coming on late in the match as centre Benjamin Urdapilleta and secondrower Tomás Vallejos Cinalli both came on for the final eight minutes of play. The USA´s Paul Emerick did not play for the Wasps as the centre continue to recover from injury.

Aviva Premiership Standings
1 Harlequins 71
2 Leicester Tigers 65
3 Saracens 64
4 Exeter Chiefs 58
5 Northampton Saints 56
6 Sale Sharks 45
7 Gloucester 43
8 Bath 40
9 London Irish Exiles 37
10 Worcester Warriors 36
11 London Wasps 31
12 Newcastle Falcons 27 

* Semi Finals Places
* Threatened with Relegation

Sale Sharks vs Bath

Northampton Saints vs Leicester Tigers

Gloucester vs Newcastle Falcons 

London Irish v Saracens

Worcester Warriors vs Exeter Chiefs

Harlequins vs London Wasps

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