Sunday, February 16, 2014

Aviva Premiership Americas Exports - Round 14 Wrap

Ayerza started for Leicester
Despite there being a bye weekend in the Six Nations there was a lot to play for in England this past weekend as clubs are chasing potential places in the play-offs and also fighting for survival. Leicester´s near decade-long standing of reaching the final every year may be under threat as the club remains outside of the top four for the time being. Further down the Worcester Warriors was still unable to win a match. Players from the Americas were involved in all matches this round as the last IRB defined region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup continues to show why Rugby World Cup 2023 should be hosted by Argentina.

Sale Sharks 10-15 Saracens
The round kicked-off on Friday with Sale playing host to one of the two best clubs so far this season, Saracens. Inspite of there being no Six Nations matches this weekend clubs were still missing international players but this did not have an impact on the result of Sale v Saracens as the club with the much stronger playing roster was able to complete a victory. On the bench for Saracens was USA international Chris Wyles.

Exeter 23-27 Bath
A competitive fixture at Rugby World Cup 2015 venue, Sandy Park saw Bath return home with a good win against West Country rivals, Exeter. It was an important result for the standings due to Bath being currently well placed and Exeter slipping further behind and facing an increasingly difficult task to reach the top four. Two Pumas were involved in the win for Bath as Horacio Agulla played on the right wing and Eusebio Guiñazú was the reserve hooker. 

Northampton Saints 30-14 Worcester Warriors
The common suggestion of the English rugby administrations that the Salary Cap in the Aviva Premiership creates stability and more competitiveness was again highly questioned on Saturday as the winless Worcester Warriors lost yet again against a team missing over 33% of its starting lineup to international duty. Worcester is yet to win a match in the Aviva Premiership this season while Northampton is top of the table and was still far too good for the Warriors despite the visitors being at full strength. Part of the reason for the loss was that Worcester received three cards, one of which was a red to former Welsh international Jonathan Thomas. Puma Leonardo Senatore was yellow carded in the match too while Agustín Creevy was the starting Warriors hooker and Mariano Galarza played second-row. Former Puma Ignacio Mieres was also involved as a replacement while USA powerhouse Samu Manoa started for the Saints.

London Wasps 20-23 London Irish
Despite being a player down for much of the second half London Irish was able to complete an away victory which should guarantee that the club is out of reach from the relegation zone. London Irish has been an unhappy club this season with the playing roster lacking the depth of most rival clubs and the English internationals of seasons gone by no longer being a part of the club. Former Puma Esteban Lozada played 43 minutes for the Wasps in the second-row while Canadian Jebb Sinclair played ther final fifteen minutes for London Irish.

Harlequins 18-14 Newcastle
The London based Harlequins remain in check with the leaders and a possible Semi Finals appearance. The Newcastle Falcons, in contrast, have only fifteen competition points and are rooted to eleventh position. Similar to Worcester Newcastle was unable to win against a club missing multiple players to the English squad. Indeed the Salary Cap may prevent the clubs capable of putting together a larger budget from spending big to have superior squads but it does not prevent the pulling power that sees some clubs have vastly superior rosters than others. Newcastle has no players in the English squad while the Harlequins was missing Joe Marler, Chris Robshaw, Danny Care and Mike Brown. Puma Gonzalo Tiesi started at outside centre for Newcastle.

Leicester 11-8 Gloucester
Weather was not to blame for Sunday´s low-scoring contest in Leicester. Instead errors from both teams and a dog-rfight at the breakdown contributed to the lack of points scored. It took over over half an hour of play for the first points to be scored and at the intveral the scores were locked at 3-3. Gloucester scored the first try of the match ten minutes into the second half but Leicester hit back to level the scores and a late penalty from Toby Flood sealed the result. Marcos Ayerza played loosehead prop for Leicester while Blaine Scully of the USA came on in the 58th minute and was key to the win. Gloucester dropped a spot in the standings despite picking up a bonus point.

1 Northampton 55
2 Saracens 54
3 Bath 44
4 Harlequins 40
5 Leicester 40
6 Sale Sharks 35
7 London Wasps 33
8 Exeter Chiefs 30
9 London Irish 25
10 Gloucester 23
11 Newcastle 15
12 Worcester 4

* Play-offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

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