Sunday, February 15, 2015

Aviva Premiership: Americas Players Review - Round 14

Photo London24
Despite this weekend being the second round of Six Nations rugby there was a full round of Aviva Premiership rugby played in England. With players missing to international duty clubs without Six Nations squad members ought to, in theory, have had a significant advantage. Instead serious questions over the validity of the Salary Cap as a competition-leveling mechanism need to be raised as the same teams who England's test players were overwhelmingly still able to complete wins in round 14. Also involved were players from the Americas. Countries from both North and South America had players in action as the last remaining region yet to be allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup continues to be a highly important player in the global game. 

Leicester Tigers 18-15 Gloucester
The opening match of the round saw the Leicester Tigers winning at home on Friday. Although the Tigers playing at home is traditionally a win the club had no right to win considering the Salary Cap and injury toll facing the club. Leicester was without six players who are in England's squad while Gloucester was without two. Involved was veteran Puma Marcos Ayerza who played loosehead prop. Ayerza is likely to play in a third Rugby World Cup later on this year. 

Northampton Saints 15-9 London Irish
Also on Friday the 2014 English champions, Northampton completed a hard-fought home victory. The large contingent of missing players did not factor in as the Saints player roster is significantly superior to that of London Irish. A North American was involved for both teams with Samu Manoa starting for the home side and Jebb Sinclair for the visitors. Both are expected to play in Rugby World Cup 2015.

Exeter Chiefs 46-17 Newcastle Falcons
The Exeter Chiefs completed a memorable home victory on late Saturday with a bonus point win at home. The result sees the Chiefs claiming five competition points to now sit on 40 in the Premiership. Starting for Newcastle was former Puma Juan Pablo Orlandi who played tighthead prop. Uncapped Argentine Juan Pablo Socino played at inside centre while former Pumas outside centre Gonzalo Tiesi was on the bench.

London Welsh 12-52 Sale Sharks
In the first of three Sunday matches the Sale Sharks continued the pattern of London Welsh being unable to seriously compete in the Aviva Premiership. The Oxford based side remains winless all season and is heading for a place in the Guinness World Records for the worst performance of a professional rugby team at the elite level in history. Canadian international back-rower Richard Thorpe played in the back-row for London Welsh.

Saracens 34-24 Bath
The London based Saracens cut the deficit between itself and Bath with a home victory on Sunday. Saracens sit in third position four points behind Bath and are targeting a home Semi Final. Involved for Saracens were two USA Eagles with Chris Wyles (pictured above) starting on the left wing and scoring the opening try of the match. Hayden Smith was a second-half replacement. Both players are likely to play for the USA at the World Cup later this year.

Wasps 37-6 Harlequins
The relocated Wasps completed a comfortable home victory in the final match of the round to occupy fourth position. Since moving to Coventry the club has achieved success and is eyeing a return to the Semi Finals for the first time since 2008. The Harlequins sit in eighth position and appear unlikely to play in the Semi Finals. Qualifying for Europe is now the goal but the team must improve if it is not to miss out. 

#
Club
Pts
1
Northampton
52
2
Bath
47
3
Saracens
43
4
Wasps
41
5
Exeter Chiefs
40
6
Sale Sharks
39
7
Leicester Tigers
39
8
Harlequins
34
9
Gloucester
30
10
London Irish
22
11
Newcastle
21
12
London Welsh
01

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