Sunday, May 4, 2014

Aviva Premiership: Americas Exports Round 21 Wrap

Photo Premier Rugby
The penultimate round of the Aviva Premiership was played from Friday through Sunday and was a round of exciting, high scoring rugby that far more closely resembled the Southern Hemisphere's famous brand than that of the stereotypical English club matches. Involved were players from Argentina, Canada and the USA who are on track to be playing in Rugby World Cup 2015 which will be hosted by England and Wales.

Bath 19-19 Northampton Saints
The round kicked-off on Friday evening with a top four clash in which Bath hosted the impressive Northampton Saints at the Recreation Ground. Going into the match the Saints were already confirmed as playing in the Semi Finals while Bath was very close just needing a win over Northampton to ensure its participation in the final four. The 19-19 draw therefore sets up a final round must win match for Bath against the Harlequins with the loser being eliminated. 

Involved in the match were players from Argentina and the USA. Puma Horacio Agulla came off the bench to play the final eight minutes for Btah but was not joined by Eusebio Guiñazú or Juan Pablo Orlandi whom have stuggled to acquire game time this season. USA powerhouse Samu Manoa started in the second-row for Northampton.

Sale Sharks 22-42 Leicester Tigers
The Sale Sharks club has failed to make a profit this season but it has been playing its best rugby for a number of years and has secured a place in the Rugby Champions Cup which is to replace the Heineken Cup next season. In the final home game of the season Sale attracted a strong crowd of 10,092 which is notable in comparison to most attendances recorded but is considerably smaller than comparable sides in France which are able to move matches and get 30,000 or more when doing so.

Starting the match for the Leicester Tigers was veteran Argentine loosehead prop Marcos Ayerza. Set to pass 50 test caps this year the Puma has played well over 100 times for Leicester in Aviva Premiership encounters. Also involved was USA winger Blaine Scully who played the final eleven minutes as a replacement.

Saracens 44-20 Worcester Warriors
The top of the table Saracens had no trouble in defeating the bottom of the table Worcester Warriors and in doing so condemning the side to relegation. Worcester's season has been poor with only one win in the Aviva Premiership. The club did come close in a number of matches but, overall, was not up to the required standard to play in the Premiership.

Argentina had players involved in the match for both teams while the USA was also represented in the London based side. Pumas outside centre Marcelo Bosch started in the 13 shirt for Saracens while Agustín Creevy was the starting hooker for Worcester and Mariano Galarza started in the second-row. Chris Wyles was on the Saracens bench.

London Wasps 44-38 Newcastle Falcons
The London Wasps secured seventh place in the Aviva Premiership and therefore a home and away play-off series against Stade Français to determine whether it will be England or France having a seventh club in next year's new European Champions Cup tournament.

None of the London Wasps' players from the Americas were involved in the fixture but second choice Argentine international outside centre Gonzalo Tiesi started in the mid-field for the Newcastle Falcons whom collected two competition points in Saturday's loss. Tiesi is to be joined by Juan Pablo Socino next season while USA prop Eric Fry will also be at the club. Tiesi, like Agulla and Bosch, will not play for Argentina next month due to their certain selection in the Rugby Championaship.

Gloucester 38-30 London Irish
Neither club had anything to play for as neither could make the Semi Finals or qualify for the European Champions Cup and, similarly, both were safe from relegation heading into the match. As such they were free to play a high scoring match without either side in danger of suffering.

Starting in the back-row or London Irish was Canadian back-rower Jebb Sinclair who is on track to play in a second Rugby World Cup next year and likely pack-down in the second-row together with Jamie Cudmore.

Exeter Chiefs 29-30 Harlequins 
Needing a win to stay alive in the Aviva Premiership this season the Harlequins faced the underwhelming Exeter Chiefs in an away fixture at Sandy Park. The contest was the only match played on Sunday and was another high scoring match, decided by a single point and a vital one which keeps the Harlequins season alive. The loss means that the Exeter Chifs cannot finish in the top seven and therefore will not feature in the play-off for a place in the European Champions Cup. 

1
Saracens
85
2
Northampton Saints
73
3
Leicester Tigers
69
4
Bath
66
5
Harlequins
63
6
Sale Sharks
56
7
London Wasps
49
8
Gloucester
42
9
Exeter Chiefs
41
10
London Irish
32
11
Newcastle Falcons
22
12
Worcester Warriors
12

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