Sunday, March 2, 2014

Aviva Premiership Americas Exports - Round 16 Wrap

Pablo Matera scored for Leicester
The sixteenth round of the Aviva Premiership was yet another round to suggest that the Salary Cap is not working. Although teams are limited as to how much money they can spend on their players the league is far from being well disputed. In all six Aviva Premiership matches played over the weekend the higher ranked side won the match. There were no instances to suggest that by reducing the budget per club on paying players the competition becomes more evenly disputed. Clubs in the French Top 14 operate on a significantly higher Salary Cap and play in a more competitive league as demonstrated by the standings in the two competitions. In action this weekend were players from Argentina, Canada and the USA - three important components of the Rugby World Cup. 2023 is the year to bring the Rugby World Cup to the Americas with Argentina being the ideal host nation.

Bath 10-23 Saracens
The in-form Bath Rugby club was less than impressive in the opening match of the round on Friday. Bath went into the match having restored its reputation as being a serious player in the Aviva Premiership. The club, though, was out played by the visiting Saracens side as the London based club eased to victory to secure four more competition points. Argentine hooker Eusebio Guiñazú was on the bench for Bath as was tighthead prop Juan Pablo Orlandi while Pumas mid-fielder Marcelo Bosch was a replacement for Saracens. Also involved in the match was USA Eagles veteran utility back Chris Wyles who played on the left wing for Saracens and scored the first try of the match. Horacio Agulla did nnot feature for Bath.

Exeter Chiefs 18-0 London Irish
One club which has not reached its potential this season is the Exeter Chiefs. The West Country side has failed to perform to the same levels which saw it qualify for the Heineken Cup over the past two seasons. Part of the reason has been players moving on to other clubs but there are still adequate players at the club to suggest it ought to be placed higher in the standings. London Irish, in contrast, has been a club offering little over the past few seasons and has avoided relegation late in the season as is the case again in the current competition. Canadian Jebb Sinclair was on the bench for the Exiles.

Harlequins 21-20 Worcester
The Worcester Warriors edged closer to relegation on Saturday as the club was unable to complete what could perhaps be described as a routine away victory. The Warriors started the match as the better side and at half time it certainly appeared as if it was to be a Worcester victory. Instead, the Warriors faded enabling the Harlequins to collect four competition points. The only upside for Worcester is that Newcastle was badly beaten this round which means that the Warriors were able to close the gap between themselves and the Falcons by one point. Involved for Worcester were three Pumas. Agustín Creevy started at hooker while Mariano Galarza played in the second-row. Leonardo Senatore featured as a replacement but did not have a match of note as he was yellow carded nine minutes after entering.

London Wasps 17-21 Sale Sharks
An important mid-table battle took place on Saturday with the visiting Sale Sharks coming out on top to hold on to sixth position and a possible place in the new Heineken Cup, should it go ahead. The London Wasps cside has overperformed this season given its playing roster is not as good as most. It has players from both Argentina and the USA but they have not been given regular game time and did not feature against Sale on Saturday. 

Northampton 39-13 Gloucester
The Northampton Saints showed again why the club is likely to be appearing in a second consecutive Aviva Premiership final. The East Midlands club is the form team of the competition and this weekend was again able to win with ease. USA powerhouse Samu Manoa played 48 minutes for the Saints. His USA Eagles teammate Cam Dolan did not feature as the back-rower is yet to get game time in the Aviva Premiership.

Newcastle Falcons 18-41 Leicester Tigers
The Newcaslte Falcons had a strong start to the match on Sunday afternoon but the class of the Leicester Tigers proved too strong in the second half. The match was another to underline the flaws in English rugby as Newcastle has a squad vastly inferior to that of Leicester. Restrictions in the budgets of both teams that comes from the Salary Cap is not enough to enable Newcastle to be capable of winning against Leicester. A greater distribution of players in needed. Indeed Newcastle has no players in the English test team while Leicester currently has Dan Cole, Ed Slater, Ben Youngs and Tom Youngs. Starting for Newcastle was Puma Gonzalo Tiesi who played outside centre. Leicester had Marcos Ayerza starting the match at loosehead prop and Pablo Matera playing in the back-row. Also starting was USA fullback Blaine Scully who played on the right wing. Matera impressed in the match and was a try scorer.

1 Northampton Saints 64
2 Saracens 62
3 Bath Rugby 49
4 Leicester Tigers 49
5 Harlequins 45
6 Sale Sharks 43
7 London Wasps 35
8 Exeter Chiefs 34
9 Gloucester Rugby 27
10 London Irish 26
11 Newcastle Falcons 16
12 Worcester Warriors 5

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