Sunday, April 20, 2014

Aviva Premiership: Americas Exports Round 20 Wrap

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England´s domestic championship is approaching the final rounds but with two matches remaining per club it would appear that everything has already been confirmed. The Worcester Warriors will be relegated, Saracens, Northampton, Leicester and Bath will be in the Semi Finals while Harlequins and the Sale Sharks wll be joining them in the new European competition next season. Changes could occur but the chances are low. Involved in round twenty were players from the Americas, the last IRB defined region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup.

Harlequins 24-20 Leicester Tigers
The opening match of the round was the only match played on Friday. The London based Harlequins played host to the Leicester Tigers and completed a late victory, but one which is unlikely to have an impact on either club´s chances of appearing in the play-offs. Starting on the right wing for the Leicester Tigers was USA Eagles back Blaine Scully while Puma Marcos Ayerza started at loosehead prop. Also involved was Pablo Matera who entered the match from the bench in just the twentieth minute. Gonzalo Camacho is yet to play for the Tigers at all. He signed for the club only to get a serious shoulder injury playing against New Zealand in the 2013 Rugby Championship.

Bath 32-20 Worcester Warriors
With the Worcester Warriors having only won one match all season the club needed to win against Bath to give itself any real hope of getting ahead of Newcastle. Worcester started strongly with a try in the eighth minute but Bath played the better rugby to complete a bonus point win which included a try from Puma Horacio Agulla. His position  in the Pumas remains clouded in 2014 after he was moved to outside centre last November and his replacement, Juan Imhoff, scored in that test against Italy. He could well continue at 13 for Argentina with Marcelo Bosch possibly moving to 12. Agulla´s Pumas teammates at Bath Eusebio Guiñazú and Juan Pablo Orlandi did not play against Worcester who had Mariano Galarza starting in the second-row and Agustín Creevy at hooker.

Exeter Chiefs 12-55 Sale Sharks
Exeter is to host four Rugby World Cup matches next year while Manchester will host just one. Northern England has been neglected by the RFU for years and has been severely underused in the allocation of matches for the World Cup. The Sale Sharks is the closest thing to a Manchester club as it is based in the Greater Manchester area. The club is in an unsustainable economic position with it set to announce a significant loss this season despite it performing very well compared to in recent seasons. Canadian Phil MacKenzie was not a part of the bonus point away win over Exeter.

London Wasps 38-30 Gloucester
Moved the Twickenham the match was the most important of the season for the London Wasps. The club remains too low to secure a place in the new European competition next season but if it retains its spot as seventh it will face the Top 14 club in the same position with the winner securing a place in the new competition. The Wasps´ players from Argentina and the USA were not involved in the fixture.

Northampton Saints 36-21 London Irish
With Leicester failing to impress on Friday the Northampton Saints took the opportunity to move closer to securing a ome Semi Final, likely against the Tigers. Northampton´s bonus point win over the struggling London Irish sees the club sitting pretty in second position. USA Eagles star Samu Manoa played in the second-row for the Saints while Canadian Jebb Sinclair came off the bench to score a try for London Irish.

Newcastle Falcons 18-23 Saracens
The second to bottom Newcastle Falcons played host to top of the table Saracens in the final match of the round. Played on Sunday the competition leaders fielded a weakened team as the club is clearly looking ahead to its Heineken Cup Semi Final match next weekend. Rested was Puma Marcelo Bosch who was not able to face-off against Gonzalo Tiesi who also missed out on playing. Involved were two USA players with Chris Wyles starting out of position at inside centre and Hayden Smith covering the second-row from the bench. Newcastle picked up a bonus point to make it an eight point gap between itself and Worcester. 

1
Saracens
80
2
Northampton Saints
71
3
Leicester Tigers
64
4
Bath
64
5
Harlequins
58
6
Sale Sharks
56
7
London Wasps
44
8
Exeter Chiefs
40
9
Gloucester
37
10
London Irish
31
11
Newcastle Falcons
20
12
Worcester Warriors
12

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