Sunday, April 21, 2013

Aviva Premiership - Round 21 Wrap

Photo: Somerset
Horacio Agulla scored for Bath against his former club Leicester
Gloucester 28-23 Saracens
The twenty-first round of the Aviva Premiership was played on Saturday and Sunday. It was a round involving upsets and confirmations - notably that Saracens, Leicester, the Harlequins and Northampton are the official top four and will contest the Semi Finals with one of them winning the title. Saracens must be the favorites but bthe London based club was defeated by a hungry Gloucester outfit on Saturday that was playing to secure a place in next seasons Heineken Cup. The Saracens team was packed with international players including a host of players in line for selection for the British and Irish Lions tour to Hong Kong and Australia this coming June. Also playing for Saracens was USA Eagles fullback Chris Wyles who played on the right wing.

Northampton 47-7 Sale Sharks
The Sale Sharks might have avoided relegation but there is no way to ignore the fact that the club is a shadow of its former self and has far too many players getting game time who are not up to the required standard. The sides forrty point loss against the Northampton Saints is telling given that Sale were the English champions in 2006 and Northampton was relegated to the second division the following year. On the bench for the Northampton Saints was USA international Samu Manoa who the USA will need on the field against Canada in July in the North American finals of Rugby World Cup 2015 Qualification. 

Worcester 26-42 Harlequins
The Worcester Warriors are not complaining despite failing to win matches. The club has recruited well ahead of the 2013-2014 season and should be an entirely different team. The players and management wiol be happy for the current season to end before welcoming the new arrivals which include Pumas Agustín Creevy, Ignacio Mieres and Leonardo Senatore.

London Irish 47-28 London Welsh
The rise and fall of London Welsh has already raised questions over the structure in place in English rugby. London Welsh is not only returning to the second division straight away but is also returning in heavy debt and has already enabled the release of its leading players, amongst them are Argentina´s Gonzalo Tiesi and Julio Farías Cabello who will leave the club in May. Tiesi did not play for London Wlesh this weekend due to injury but Farías Cabello sgtarted in the backrow. 

Bath 27-26 Leicester
A shock result, considering the comparable playing resources available to both clubs, saw Horacio Agulla get revenge on his former club by scoring a first half try in Bath´s one point victory over the Leicester Tigers. Upon crossing the line Agulla held his finger above his mouth as if asking the crowd to be quiet. Either that or to silence his former Leicester employers. Whatever the case it was clear that Agulla´s loss has been felt with Leicester unable to finish off the same opportunities as last season when Agulla and Samoa´s Alesana Tuilagi were arguably the best wing combination in the Aviva Premiership. Agulla was joined by Eusebio Guiñazú on Saturday as Guiñazú played for Bath as a second half replacement. He played the final quarter and should have a similar role for Argentina in the Rugby Championship behind Creevy.

London Wasps 24-37 Exeter Chiefs
The final match of the round saw an ideal result for the Exeter Chiefs as they went to London and won to return home looking  certain o finish in the top six and thus play in next seasons Heineken Cup. Exeter´s final pool match will be at home in a derby match against Gloucester. With both teams ranked in the top five now the loser could well be eliminated if Bath is able to complete a bonus point victory. It is unlikely though as Bath will play away against Saracens. Pumas backs Gonzalo Camacho and Ignacio Mieres will be contracted to the Chiefs for their final match when Sandy park plays host to Gloucester.

Aviva Premiership Standings 
1 Saracens 73
2 Leicester 69
3 Harlequins 65
4 Northampton 64
5 Gloucester 58
6 Exeter 55
7 Bath 53
8 London Wasps 47
9 London Irish 35
10 Worcester 33
11 Sale Sharks 31
12 London Welsh 18

* Play-Off Places
* Relegated

Northampton Saints v Sale Sharks

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