Tuesday, January 4, 2011

French Top 14 - Round 15

Round 15 of the 2010-2011 French Top 14 was another full of lots of action, upsets and players from Argentina playing for 13 of the 14 clubs with three Pumas involved in Toulouse´s victory over Castres which sees the Southwestern France powerhouse club move clear ahead of the pack to lead the Top 14 comfortably after 15 rounds. The USA also had players involved with Biarritz´s try scoring machine Taku Ngwenya scoring perhaps the try of the round as Biarritz played an away match in Toulon.

The 2010 French Top 14 Champions Clermont continued their winning ways after defeating Toulouse and Perpignan in their previous Top 14 matches as they hosted neighbours and bottom placed side Bourgoin and secured a bonus point 34-9 victory. Argentine hooker Mario Ledesma backed up to play his second match in 5 days as he came off the bench in the second half for Clermont. Canadian secondrower Jamie Cudmore did not feature after being suspended following an incident in Wednesday´s win over Perpignan. Bourgoin had two Argentine players in their side with centre Matías Viazzo playing as scrumhalf and Alberto Di Bernardo, who scored his sides nine points, playing at flyhalf.

resume fr3 asm 34 - bourgoin 09 ( 02 01 2011 )

Toulouse´s 23-15 win over Castres puts the club 6 points ahead of second place on 51 points and also sees Castres fall to sixth position and face real danger of dropping out of playoffs contention and securing a place in next seasons Heineken Cup. Toulouse had Pumas scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo and secondrower Patricio Albacete in the starting XV as well as hooker Alberto Vernet Basulado on the bench. Vernet Basualdo came on in the 70th minute for his first game in six months due to injury problems. With all three all but certain to feature in Argentina´s Rugby World Cup 2011 squad it is very positive to see them playing at the top level for France´s best team. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega was rested for this match.

Racing Metro recovered from their 6-6 home draw vs Brive on Wednesday to claim an important 28-16 victory vs Montpellier as third place hosted second in the game of the round in Paris. The Parisians were leading 20-3 after scoring two first half tries to Albert Vulivuli and Mirco Bergamasco. Montpellier were much better after the interval and scored first through the boot of Argentine centre Santiago Fernández but Racing Metro scored again in the 48th minute to lead 28-6 and all but seal victory with 32 minutes remaining. Fellow Argentine Martín Bustos Moyano also kicked a penalty for Montpellier - in the first half but left the field injured in the 28th minute. Santiago Fernández kicked 8 points in the second half and Pumas prop Juan Figallo completed the Argentine trio for the visitors. Argentine prop Juan Pablo Orlandi was in the team as was Pumas backrower Álvaro Galindo. The result sees the teams tied for second place on the ladder.

Juan Martín Hernández did not play for Racing Metro as he had to return home to Buenos Aires to be with his family following the tragic death of his father. Racing-Métro and Italian international prop, Andrea Lo Cicero dedicated his teams victory to team mate Juan Martín Hernández and said that Hernández is a very important player for the team.

Racing Métro 92 Montpellier

Toulon recovered from their bad loss to Bayonne on Wednesday to defeat Biarritz 38-26 in one of the rounds key matches. Felipe Contepomi did not play after being rested following leaving the field vs Bayonne after only 5 minutes as he was knocked out following a head clash. Argentine backrower Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe did play however and set up one of his teams tries after breaking the line as Toulon scored a bonus point victory scoring four tries to two. One of Biarritz´s tries went to the USA sensation Taku Ngwenya who was joined by Pumas centre Marcelo Bosch in the backs and Pumas frontrower Eusebio Guiñazu was on the bench.

Stade Français let a great chance slip as they left La Rochelle with a 26-26 draw as key French players such as Mathieu Bastareaud, Lionel Beauxis and Julien Dupuy as well as Scottish fullback Hugo Southwell continue to underperform. Stade Français scored two tries to one but the star was La Rochelle´s fullback, Benjamin Dambielle who kicked 16 points. La Rochelle had uncapped Argentine Franco Pani in the starting lineup at hooker and uncapped Argentine prop Andres Bordoy on the bench. Stade Français had four Argentine players in the starting lineup with Rodrigo Roncero at loosehead prop, Juan Manuel Leguizamón in the backrow, Gonzalo Tiesi at inside centre and Italian captain, Sergio Parisse played eight while Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga was on the bench.

The other side new to the Top 14 after playing several seasons in the second division, Agen, did even better in defeating Bayonne 21-3 to move up the ladder into 11th position - their highest of the season as they look to move outside of the relegation zone. Agen are now on 24 points which is three more than La Rochelle in 13th spot and two more than Brive in 12th. Perpignan are well clear in 10th place, suggesting that Agen have little chance of making the play-offs but are certainly helping their chances of staying in the Top 14. Argentine centre Miguel Avramovic played for the winning team and USA international winger Kevin Swiryn was on the bench.

The Catalans up and down season continues as Perpignan secured a 23-16 win vs Brive scoring two tries to one. The result means Perpignan continue to be in 10th spot and Brive are in 12th but the 11 points gap on the table give the two teams different goals for the remainder of the season. For Perpignan making the Top 6 is paramount for play-offs and a place in the Heineken Cup up for grabs. For Brive it must now be a case of fighting for survival as they have only a one point advantage over La Rochelle and have been overtaken by Agen. One of these sides should indeed be joining Bourgoin in the Pro d2 next season. Former Pumas secondrower Rimas Alvarez started for Perpignan and Pumas scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola and former prop Pablo Henn for Brive. Another former Pumas prop, Pablo Cardinali came on for Brive in the second half. Figuerola played the full 80 minutes for the first time since joining Brive and had a superb match, setting up his sides try when he broke the line and past to the try scorer. Clearly, Figuerola has a future as a professional at the top level.

Le résumé du match USAP Brive Janvier 2011

Round 16 Fixtures
Friday Brive vs Clermont, Stade Amédée-Domenech

Saturday Bourgoin vs La Rochelle, Stade Pierre-Rajon
Saturday Bayonne vs Castres, Stade Jean-Dauger
Saturday Biarritz vs Agen, Parc des Sports Aquiléra
Saturday Montpellier vs Perpignan, Stade Yves du Manoir - Montpellier
Saturday Stade Français vs Toulouse, Stade de France 

Sunday Racing Métro vs Toulon, Stade Yves du Manoir

Top 14 Ladder
Toulouse 51
Montpellier 45
Racing Métro 45
Clermont 43
Castres 40 
Toulon 40
Biarritz 39
Bayonne 36
Stade Français 35
Perpignan 33
Agen 24
Brive 22
La Rochelle 21
Bourgoin 10

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