Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Americas Players in Top 14 - Round 19

Loads of players from Argentina were in action this past weekend in round 19 of the Frenhc championship - Le Top 14. The Americas also had players from Canada, the United States and Uruguay in action as the world was again reminded of the tremendous talent being produced in the Americas - the only region which will not have ever hosted a Rugby World Cup come 2019. The round saw some very surprizing results such as Brive winning vs Stade Français, Castres winning vs Montpellier and Agen defeating Toulon. As such the ladder continues to be highly competitive with 10 teams remaining in strong contention for a place in the play-off´s.

The round started on Friday with one match as Brive did themselves a tremendous favor in winning vs top opposition and in the process getting out of the relegation zone - for now. Stade Français continued to show how big their struggle has been to fill the boots of Argentina flyhalf Juan Martín Hernández. Since he left the team has lacked spark and loked a shadow of its former self. The two seasons post Hernández have been the worst in the history of the Top 14. Lionel Beauxis isn no longer wanted by France for international flyhalf duty and will play for Toulouse next season. he missed the game through suspension which made Stade Français look even poorer as they called upon an inexperienced flyhalf with no credentials whatsoever. Consequently, the Parisians had little to no organization from the pivotal position. There were four Argentine players in the Paris side with Martín Rodriguez Gurruchaga playing fullback, Gonzalo Tiesi inside centre, Rodrigo Roncero loosehead prop and Pedro Ledesma coming on as a second half replacement at tighthead prop. Argentina international scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola came off the bench for Brive and former Pumas prop Pablo Cardinali started at tighthead prop for the winners.

Paris was saved however as on Saturday Racing Metro travelled to play La Rochelle in La Rochelle and notched up a 32-24 victory. La Rochelle crucially missed a last mionute chance to close the gap which would have given them a bonus poin for their defeat. El Mago Juan Martín Hernández played inside centre for the Parisians and had a solid match including setting up his sides second try to Henry Chavancy after Hernández had fooled the defence with a dummy and side step. Pumas backrower Àlvaro Galindo also feature in the match for Racing Metro while the uncapped Argentine duo of Andrés Bordoy and Franco Pani both played in the front row for La Rochelle.

Retour sur le match ASR - RM92

A massive upset took place in South-Western France as the newly promotted Agen pulled off the upset of the season as they defeated Toulon 23-13 at home. USA international winger Kevin Swiryn played on the left wing for Agen and former Argentina centre Miguel Avramovic played 13. Toulon were close to being at full strength. Argentina´s Felipe Contepomi missed the game through injury but Pumas international backrower Juan Fernández Lobbe played the first 48 minutes before leaving the field following a blow. The result sees Toulon drop out of the top 6 and Agen rise to 11th on the table and thus clear, for the moment, of the relegation zone.

Castres maintained their 100% winning record this season for home matches as they defeated Montpellier 43-29 in the match of the round with Castres scoring 5 tries to 4 including one penalty try. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega came off the bench in the second half for Castres while Montpellier´s trio from Argentina all had fine matches with Santiago Fernández again fitting in well at flyhalf and prop Juan Figallo being highly visible around the field in rucks. Uncapped Argentina winger Martín Bustos Moyano scored 14 points including a beautiful individual try which he scored after a chip and chase effort. USA internatioanl centre Seta Tuilevuka also put in a good performance in the 13 shirt for Montpellier.

Clermont continued its charge into the top four with a 24-19 victory over Bayonne in Clermont on Saturday. the win sees them go ahead of Montpellier and claim third spot. Argentina born Italian international centre Gonzalo Canale put in a good performance for Clermont as he scored a try ibn what was a close a difficult match with Bayonne fighting until the end. Pumas international and eternal hooker Mario Ledesma was on the bench for Clermont.

Résumé Clermont Bayonne

Bottom of the table Bourgoin were again easily defeated as the club has seemingly lost track of what is going on. Some odd selections again took place and Perpignan had few problems in notching up a 32-15 victory. With the win Perpignan enter the Top 10 for the first time in months. Retired Argentina international secondrower Rimas Alvarez played the full 80 minutes in the secondrow for Perpignan. In contrast the Argentine pair of centre Matías Viazzo and flyhalf Alberto Di Bernardo both missed the game as their club opted to continue fielding players out of position.

Le résumé du match CSBJ - USAP

A repeat of the 2010 Heineken Cup final took place in the rounds final match with Toulouse pulling off a close 23-19 victory over Biarritz on Saturday evening. The win sees Toulouse continue to stay clear of the pack on the Top 14 ladder. Three pumas played for the home side with secondrower Patricio Albacete and scrumhalf Nicolás Vergallo both starting and hooker Alberto Vernet Basualdo coming off the bench. A real contender for the Pumas 13 shirt ahead of Gonzalo Tiesi, Marcelo Bosch, again played 13 for Biarritz and was joined by Eusebio Guiñazú in the final 20 minutes as the frontrower continues to loom as an outside chance of making the Argentina squad for the Rugby World Cup.

Top 14 Ladder
1 Toulouse 64
2 Racing Metro 57
3 Clermont 53 
4 Montpellier 52
5 Castres 51 
6 Bayonne 49 
7 Toulon 49 
8 Biarritz 49 
9 Perpignan 45 
10 Stade Francais 44
11 Agen 32 
12 Brive 31
13 La Rochelle 28
14 Bourgoin 5

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