Sunday, February 13, 2011

Top 14 - Round 18

Round 18 of the 2010-2011 French Championship, the Top 14 Orange was played on Friday and Saturday with a full round of seven matches taking place to free up Sunday for the Six Nations match between Ireland and France in Dublin. Toulouse won again, to stay ahead of the pack in first place while Bourgoin lost again and are all but certain to be relegated. Brive also had an unhappy day which sees the former Heineken Cup champions stay in thirteenth place and in serious danger of relegation to the second division. It was another round to showcase Argentina as every match featured players who have represented Los Pumas. There were also international players in action from Canada and the United States.

Toulouse travelled to La Rochelle to face the Atlantic side for the first ever meeting between the two in La Rochelle in the history of Top 14 rugby. Toulouse were missing six players who will play for France today in the Six Nations match but were nonetheless expected to win by a big margin. La Rochelle showed just how competitive this seasons Top 14 is as they pushed Toulouse to the limited and the teams were tied at 19-19 at the interval. The only points after the break came from Toulouse replacement Nicolas Bezy as Toulouse completed a 22-19 win. Pumas secondrower Patricio Albacete captained Toulouse and was joined in the starting XV by Pumas scrumhalf Nicolas Vergallo. Argentine hooker, Alberto Vernet Basualdo came on in the 53rd minute as a replacement. La Rochelle had two Argentine frontrowers in the uncapped pair of Franco Pani and Andrés Bordoy. The narrow loss saw La Rochelle pick up a bonus point.

Retour sur le match Stade Rochelais / Stade Toulousain

Toulon hosted Brive and were forced to play English centre Tom May at flyhalf in place of the absent Johnny Wilkinson and the injured Felipe Contepomi. Both teams scored one try each but it was Toulon who won a close match 22-16 with Argentine international backrower Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe playing a superb match as he played the full 80 minutes at 8 for Toulon and former Pumas prop Pablo Cardinali playing for Brive. The win sees Toulon stay in the play-offs zone as they are tied with Clermont for 4th place. Brive stay in the bottom two however they did secure a bonus point.

Tenth placed Perpignan hosted eleventh placed Agen with the 2009 champions looking to get back into the play-offs contention zone. Agen went into the match with a one point advantage over La Rochelle and a two point advatange over Brive and needed to secure at least a bonus point to stay clear. It was not to be however, as Perpignan put in a good performance running in five tries to two in notching up a 31-18 victory. USA international winger, Kevin Swiryn played for Agen as did Argentina international centre Miguel Avramovic who broke the line in the lead up to his sides secondhalf try. Puma backrower, Alejandro Campos looks set to return next match for Agen after returning from injury to play for the reserve side.

Résumé du match USAP vs AGEN - Février 2011

Bottom placed Bourgoin had yet another bad game as they travelled to the Spanish border city of Bayonne and were overpowered 24-7. The win sees Bayonne return to the top six after leading the competition in the early part of the season. Bourgoin who have financial problems and sit in last place with five victories behind Brive in thirteenth, seem to be out of ideas. Argentine flyhalf, Alberto Di Bernardo played fullback for Bourgoin.

Stade Français scored one try to nil but were clinical in defeating Biarritz 31-18 in Paris. The win means neither side are in the top six as this seasons Top 14 Orange continues to be the most competitive of all time. Stade Français had three international players from Argentina in the starting XV with Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga playing fullback, Rodrigo Roncero loosehead prop and Gonzalo Tiesi inside centre. Biarritz had a centre of their own with Marcelo Bosch again playing at outside centre with USA Eagles international winger Taku Ngwenya playing 14 alongside Bosch.

Résumé de Stade Français Paris - Biarritz, le 12/02/2011 - Stade TV
Résumé du match Stade Français Paris - Biarritz.

El Mago Juan Martín Hernández put in a solid diplay for Racing Metro as both Paris teams were winners in Paris on Saturday. Hernández, playing flyhalf, scored a second half try which gave his side a 20-13 victory over Castres. The win keeps Racing Metro in second position ahead of a number of teams considered as being superior such as Biarritz, Clermont, Perpignan, Stade Français and Toulon. El Mago was joined by Pumas international backrower, Alvaro Galindo in the Racing Metro starting line-up.

Montpellier did one better in notching up a four tries to nil bonus point victory vs last seasons champions, Clermont in Montpellier. The 29-9 victory sees Montpellier overtake Clermont to claim thrid spot. Montpellier´s three Argentina players were all in the starting XV with winger Martín Bustos Moyano slotting three conversions and one penalty and prop Juan Figallo scoring a second half try. Santiago Fernández pulled the strings at flyhalf as he set up two tries. The first was from a clean linebreak from Fernandez and the second with a neat cross field kick. USA international centre, Seta Tuilevuka came off the bench in the second half while Canadian international secondrower Jamie Cudmore played for Clermont as did Pumas hooker Mario Ledesma.

Résumé Montpellier-Clermont

Top 14 Ladder

1 Toulouse 60 
2 Racing Metro 53
3 Montpellier 52
4 Clermont 49
5 Toulon 49
6 Bayonne 48
7 Biarritz 48
8 Castres 47
9 Stade Francais 44
10 Perpignan 41
11 Agen 28
12 La Rochelle 28
13 Brive 27
14 Bourgoin 5 

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