Monday, April 15, 2013

Aviva Premiership - Round 20 Wrap

Sale Sharks 32-9 Gloucester
Organizers of Rugby World Cup 2015 can feel very relieved now that the Sale Sharks have completed a remarkable come back to avoid being relegated to the second division. With only two seasons to go before England hostes the Rugby World Cup there is a concerning lack of clubs from parts of the country in line to host World Cup matches. In the North and North West of England the only team in the Aviva Premiership this season is the Sale Sharks. The club was bottom of the table until very recently and required a shocking turn of form on the part of London Welsh to move into eleventh position. Next season, though, Sale will be in the Aviva Premiership and Newcastle should also which would benefit the World Cup tremendously. A host of cities in consideration do not have Aviva Premiership clubs - Birmingham, Brighton, Bristol, Coventry, Derby,  Leeds, Milton Keynes, Southampton, Sunderland and, of course Cardiff. To compound matters England never plays test rugby in any of these cities either. Sale´s survival is no small matter. The bonus point win featured good performances from players from a host of nations including Second and Third Tier sides Samoa and Russia.

Exeter Chiefs 27-6 London Irish
The Chiefs are back into contention for a Heineken Cup spot after completing a comfortable two tries to win victory over strugglers London Irish. London Irish will not be in the Heineken Cup and the club wans nothing more than the current season to come to an end. If the Aviva Premiership had automatic reelgation for the bottom two like is the case in the French Top 14 then there would likely be a lot more enthusiasm involved. Instead London Irish and the Worcester Warriors have nothing to play for now and are just seeing out the season. Exeter´s win was without Pumas Ignacio Mieres and Gonzalo Camaho. Neither player will stay with the club after this season. Mieres will play for the Worcester Warriors while Camacho is set to play in France, possibly for either Stade Français or Racing Métro. Canada´s Jebb Sinclair played the match for London Irish, starting in the backrow.

Harlequins 23-9 Bath
Exeter´s performance in returning to the top six suggests it should be strong enough to hold on ad book itself in the Heineken Cup. The performance of Bath at the Stoop on Saturday was underwhelming as the Harlequins completed a simple victory by controlling the second half. Despite having held a 9-6 halftime lead Bath failed to score any points after the interval. The win sees the Quins holding on to third place and will likely face Leicester in the Semi Finals. Bath are eleven points outsde of the Semi Final´s zone meaning the clubs Pumas can return home to Argentina early to prepare for the Rugby Championship. Horacio Agulla started the match for Bath on the right wing while hooker Eusebio Guiñazú was a replacement in the secondhalf.

Leicester Tigers 35-16 London Wasps
Leicester edged closer to a home Semi Final with an impressive bonus point win on Sunday. It secured Leicester´s place in the Semi Finals ad now the Tigers need to finish the regular season well to secure a home Semi Final. The London Wasps´ latest loss continues the horror second half of the season as the club continues to drop down the standings. The Argentine-Italian Martín Castrogiovanni was on the bench for the Tigers. 

Saracens 47-17 Worcester Warriors
The only team playing better rugby in England than Leicester at this point in time is Saracens. The clubs thirty point win over the Worcester Warriors on Sunday was one of the most impressive performances of the Aviva Premiership season. Of the six tries scored one was scored by Argentine-Italian Carlos Nieto who was a replacement prop. Starting for Saracens at fullback was Chris Wyles who could make history by becoming the first American to win the Aviva Premiership and the Heineken Cup. Wyles won the Aviva Premiership with Saracens in 2011. 

London Welsh 14-31 Northampton Saints
Ten loses in a row and counting for London Welsh as last seasons second division champions continue to struggle in the second half of the season. The only thing stopping London Welsh from being relegated now is if a club without an adequate stadium wins the RFU Championship to win promotion. The chances of this happening appear remote as the Newcastle Falcons appear highly likely to win the competition. Looking ahead to Rugby World Cup 2015 London Welsh´s relegation is ideal as it decreases the number of London clubs from five to four and enables the possibility of more teams from the North playing in the Aviva Premiership in time for the World Cup. rugby World Cup Ltd may have its fingers crossed over Leeds Carnegie winning the RFU Championship next season. Should it eventuate then England 2015 would be boosted significantly. London Welsh´s loss on Sunday featured Pumas backrower Julio Farías Cabello. He started in the backrow while USA international Samu Manoa played at number 8 for the Northampton Saints.

Aviva Premiership Stamdings
1 Saracens 72
2 Leicester 68
3 Harlequins 60
4 Northampton 59
5 Gloucester 54
6 Exeter 50
7 Bath 48
8 London Wasps 47
9 Worcester 33
10 London Irish 31
11 Sale Sharks 30
12 London Welsh 18

* Play-Off´s places
*  Relegated 

Sale Sharks v Gloucester

Harlequins v Bath

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