Sunday, May 10, 2015

Aviva Premiership: Americas Exports - Round 21

With one round remaining in the Aviva Premiership there is a lot to play for for a number of teams as play-offs spots remain up for grabs. Qualified are the Northampton Saints and Bath while two of the Leicester Tigers, Exeter Chiefs and Saracens will be joining them in the Semi Finals. Of the five teams four have players from the Americas who receive regular game time. The region of the Americas is unique due to it being the only one not to have been allocated hosting rights of a Rugby World Cup. This could end with Argentina hosting the global event in 2023. 

Harlequins 26-27 Bath
The round got underway at the Twickenham Stoop on Friday with the Harlequins playing host to the in-form Bath. The Quins required a strong showing to stand any chance of qualifying for next season's European Rugby Champions Cup but fell agonizingly short. Starting for the visiting West Country club was Horacio Agulla who was making his come back from injury. The Puma crossed for a try. He is eyeing up selection in a third Rugby World Cup. 

Sale Sharks 34-28 Newcastle Falcons
The Sale Sharks edged the gap between itself and the Wasps with a hard-fought six point home win on Saturday. Newcastle, in contrast confirmed itself as finishing second from bottom ahead only of the winless London Welsh. Starting for the visitors was Juan Pablo Socino who scored a try and landed two conversions for Newcastle. Also involved were props Juan Pablo Orlandi and Eric Fry who were Falcons' replacements. Fry is a certain inclusion in the USA's World Cup squad while both Socino and Orlandi are outside chances for Argentina. 

Gloucester 35-13 London Irish
A week after winning the European Challenge Cup Gloucester gained four competition points in the Aviva Premiership by completing a twenty-two point home victory over London Irish. The result does neither team any favors in terms of the play-offs for the Aviva Premiership or Europe. Starting for the winning side was Puma Mariano Galarza (pictured above) who is chasing selection in a second Rugby World Cup. Canadian Jebb Sinclair started opposite Galarza and will also, if selected, appear in a second Rugby World Cup. 

Northampton Saints 46-0 London Welsh
Competition leaders the Northampton Saints completed a comprehensive home victory over the relegated London Welsh on Saturday. The result means that, despite there still being one round remaining, the club is top of the table after round play and will host a Semi Final. Starting for the Saints was Samu Manoa. The Californian has been short-listed for Players Player of the Year. He missed out on playing for the USA in Rugby World Cup 2011 due to contractual obligations with his then new club of Northampton. 

Wasps 21-26 Leicester Tigers
An important away win sees on Saturday sees the most successful club in English rugby history edging closer to guaranteeing itself another Semi Finals appearance. Sitting on 64 competition points the Tigers awaited the results of Saracens v Exeter with great interest. As it turned out the outcome of that game meant that Leicester occupy this position with one round remaining. As it stands Leicester will play away to Bath in the Semi Finals while Northampton will host either Saracens of Exeter. Puma Marcos Ayerza was on the bench for Leicester. 

Saracens 20-24 Exeter Chiefs
Saracens blew an opportunity to secure a place in the Semi Finals by losing at home against the Exeter Chiefs in the final match of the round. Saracens' starting mid-field combination was that of Chris Wyles and Marcelo Bosch. Both are certainties for the World Cup with Wyles likely to remain at fullback for the USA and Bosch at outside centre for Argentina. 

#
Team
Pts
1
Northampton
76
2
Bath
70
3
Leicester
64
4
Exeter
63
5
Saracens
63
6
Wasps
58
7
Sale Sharks
54
8
Harlequins
49
9
Gloucester
47
10
London Irish
37
11
Newcastle
29
12
London Welsh
01

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