Sunday, March 30, 2014

Aviva Premiership: Americas Exports Round 18 Wrap

Photo Rugby Tucumano
Unlike round 17 of the Aviva Premiership there were no large crowds on offer in round 18 as one week after setting a world record at Wembley all six Aviva Premiership matches were played at club grounds all seating less than 15,000. Of the six venues one will host Rugby World Cup matches next year as Exeter´s Sandy Park is to be upgraded. On show in round 18 were eight Pumas and a Canadian. No U.S. players took to the field due to the Rugby World Cup Qualifier against Uruguay being played on Saturday. 

Bath 11-12 Sale Sharks
The round began on Friday with a low scoring match in the West Country. On form Bath was expected to complete a home victory but with George Ford having a nighmare performance with the boot the Sale Sharks was able to complete an important win. Puma Horacio Agulla was involved for Bath but the winger was no the bench rather than starting. He has been out of favor in recent times despite his international experience and reputation in the Premiership. Neither Juan Pablo Orlandi nor Eusebio Guiñazú featured.

Exeter Chiefs 13-14 Gloucester
A low-scoring match in the West Country on Saturday saw Gloucester overtake the Exeter Chiefs to move to within reach of the London Wasps. Having impressed earlier in the season and also qualified for the past two editions of the Heineken Cup Exeter´s season has failed in comparison. 

Harlequins 23-9 London Irish
In the first of two all-London matches this round the Harlequins had few problems in defeating London Irish.  But having failed to gel in recent rounds the Quins remain outside of contention for the play-offs for the time being. Canadian international Jebb Sinclair started for the Exiles in the back-row.

London Wasps 20-32 Saracens
The chances of the London Wasps appearing in the Aviva Premiership Semi Finals continue to fade as the club was defeated at home on Saturday by Saracens. The visitors from Northern London were too strong in running away with a clear victory and collecting a bonus point. The win was not only big but also occurred with a number of regulars on the bench. Puma Marcelo Bosch made a second half appearance. Esteban Lozada was not involved for the home side.

Northampton Saints 16-22 Leicester Tigers
The most anticipated match of the round was the second-consecutive loss for the Northampton Saints. The club missed USA second-rower Samu Manoa greatly over the past two rounds and despite having a wealth of talent of English internationals he club has not been the same. Puma Marcos Ayerza played loosehead prop for the Leicester Tigers while his international teammate Pablo Matera was unused from the bench. In winning the Tigers have overtaken Bath to occupy third position. 

Newcastle Falcons 12-17 Worcester Warriors
It took 18 rounds but the Worcester Warriros has finally won an Aviva Premiership match this season. The five point victory sees the Warriors close the gap on Newcastle by three points to now trail the Falcons by nine points in the standings. Worcester therefore needs three more wins and for Newcastle to not not win again if it is to avoid relegation. Captaining the Newcastle Falcons was Puma Gonzalo Tiesi. The outside centre signed a new two year deal with the club during the week and will be joined by Juan Pablo Socino next season. Involved for the winners were three Pumas. Hooker Agustín Creevy and second-rower Mariano Galarza both started while fly half Ignacio Mieres was on the bench.

1 Saracens 72
2 Northampton 65
3 Leicester 58
4 Bath 55
5 Sale Sharks 51
6 Harlequins 49
7 London Wasps 39
8 Gloucester 36
9 Exeter Chiefs 35
10 London Irish 26
11 Newcastle 19
12 Worcester 10

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