Monday, May 6, 2013

Aviva Premiership - Final Round Wrap

Horacio Agulla scored for Bath
Saracens 23-14 Bath
An away win for Bath could have seen the club qualify for the Heineken Cup. For this to happen it not only needed to defeat the top of the table Saracens but it also needed Exeter to lose. Neither occured which sees Bath finish seventh in the Aviva Premiership and thus miss out on a place in the 2013-2014 Heineken Cup. Saracens´ win featured USA fullback Chris Wyles starting in his test position while the soon to reture former Italian international from Argentina, Carlos Nieto was a frontrow replacement. Starting on the right wing for Bath was Horacio Agulla who finished his season well by scoring a try. He is certain to feature in the Rugby Championship for Los Pumas but it is unknown in what capacity as Juan Imhoff and Gonzalo Camacho would appear to be the llikely pair of starting wingers. As argued previously, Agulla is well suited to the midfield and ought to be given the chance at 13. 

Sale Sharks 21-20 London Wasps
The shocking form produced by the London Wasps in the second half of the season is difficult to comprehend considering the cliub was on track for a place in the Semi Finals. Instead the Wasps finish the season twelve points outside of the Semi Finals and miss out on a place in the Heineken Cup. Sale´s late season form saved the club from relegation and, in the end it finished in tenth. The arrival of Phil MacKenzie next season will be sure to attract interest from Canadians.

London Welsh 33-22 Worcester Warriors
London Welsh were confirmed as being relegated long before the teams final match while took away focus from the importance of the teams win over the Worcester Warriors on Sunday. With three Pumas have signed for Worcester the side looks set to be more of a genuine midtable team than it has been since returning from the second division. Pumas backrower Julio Farías Cabello played his final match for London Welsh. he will now return home to Argentina to prepare for the international season. 

Leicester Tigers 33-20 London Irish
Leicester booked a home Semi Final by virtue of defeating London Irish at home on Saturday. It means that the finalists in this seasons Aviva Premiership cannot be the same two from 2011-2012 as the Champions the Harlequins will face the runners-up, Leicester. The Semi Final will be played at Welford Road and not the larger King Power Stadium in Leicester which will host three pool matches at Rugby World Cup 2015 including two involving Argentina. London Irish´s season has reached its conclusion due to the result which means Jebb Sinclair will have recovering time before the crucial international matches to be played this year. Sinclair was on the bench for London Irish against the Tigers.

Harlequins 22-19 Northampton
The Harlequins home win means the Semi Finals are to be two of London v the West Midlands. Northampton finish four points behind the Quins to qualify for the Semi Finals as the fourth seed and advance to play against Saracens on Sunday. The player on the lips of every USA rugby supporter, Samu Manoa, started for the Northampton Saints at number 8. USA Eagles fans are wanting the Californian on the field for their side this year after he missed out on test duty in 2012 and Rugby World Cup 2011.

Exeter 40-39 Gloucester
The match of the round and one of the best of the season saw the Exeter Chiefs book a spot in the Heineken Cup for the second straight season. The match was of vital importance for rugby World Cup 2015 as both citieis will host matches. Of the thirteen venues the two are the only ones to be regular homes of professional teams. The others, such as those in London and Cardiff, are used at test level permanently but only for occassional matches by clubs. The battle of the flyhalves was interesting as two who could play in June battled it oud with Irishman Garteh Steenson playing for Exeter against Gloucester´s Freedie Burns. Steenson could well face the USA and Canada in June while Burns could start against Argentina.. 

Aviva Premiership Standings
1 Saracens 77
2 Leicester 74
3 Harlequins 69
4 Northampton 65
5 Gloucester 60
6 Exeter 59
7 Bath 53
8 London Wasps 48
9 London Irish 35
10 Sale Sharks 35
11 Worcester 33
12 London Welsh 23

* Relegated

Semi Finals
Saturday May 11 Leicester v Harlequins, Welford Road, Leicester
Sunday May 12 Saracens v Northampton, Copthall Stadium, London

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