Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Top 14 Orange - Round 24

Two teams in danger of being relegated back to to France's second division, the Pro d2, kicked off round 24 of the 2010-2011 Top 14 Orange season on Friday as they battled it out in a key encounter in La Rochelle on Saturday with Agen visiting and securing a vital 29-19 victory which virtually ensures Agen will remain in France's top flight but La Rochelle will drop. Incredibly, Agen are now less than one victory behind Stade Francais on the table. Former Argentina international centre, Miguel Avramovic, who last played for Los Pumas in 2008 played the full 80 minutes at centre for Agen and uncapped Argentina hooker, Franco Pani again started for La Rochelle.

Stade Francais hosted Clermont in the country's largest stadium, the Stade de France and despite having a considerably poor season the people of Paris responded by packing the stadium. The Paris side, however, was unable to give the fans entertainment as the poor performing former glorious side had another poor performance in losing 20-12. With the result Stade remain in 10th position and in no chance of going any higher but will need to win games to avoid being caught by Agen or possible even Brive. Clermont, in contrast, moved up to fourth place of the championship. Stade Francais's lack of quality wingers and flyhalves again seemed evident as the team lacked plenty of attackinf options and failed to score a try.  A number of Argentina players featired for both teams with Pumas loosehead prop, Rodrigo Roncero, starting for Stade alongside Pumas fullback Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga and Italy's Argentine born captain, Sergio Parisse. Los Pumas backrower, Juan Leguizamón returned to action from injury to come on as a replacement. Eternal Pumas hooker, Mario Ledesma started for Clermont as did his long time frontrow partner Martín Scelzo and Argentine born Italian international centre Gonzalo Canale also featured for the winners..

Résumé Stade Français - Clermont por asm

The profile of rugby in France was just as evident in France's second largest city, Marseilles, as Toulon moved its home fixture vs tournament leaders Toulouse to the 60,000 seater Stade Velodrome - France's second largest stadium. A week after going down in a close battle vs Perpignan in Barcelona, Toulon responded by knocking over Toulouse 21-9 thanks to two tries to English international winger Paul Sackey. Both teams fielded experimental lineups to rest players following their Heineken Cup Quarter Finals the previous week. The win was not enough for Toulon to enter the play-offs zone but certainly makes the teams chances a lot better as they are now less than one win behind all teams ranked from second to sixth on the table. Argentina international flyhalf / centre Felipe Contepomi played the final 14 minutes for Toulon and Pumas scrumhalf Nicolás Vergallo completed his return from injury by putting in a good performance for Toulouse.

Biarritz continue to look like a strong contender for the championship title as the South-Western Frence side dominated Brive in notching up a highly impressive 52-26 home victory on Saturday. Brive have not been having a good season but look set to stay in the Top 14 at the expense of La Rochelle who now look certain to join Bourgoin in dropping to the Pro d2. Biarritz, in contrast, have been impressive in scoring plenty of tries and the move of Argentina international flyhalf / inside centre, Marcelo Bosch, into the 13 shirt has been a great success as Bosch scored another try for the winners. His form could very well put him in line to start ahead of Gonzalo Tiesi in the 13 shirt for Argentina at Rugby World Cup 2011. Bosch was joined by former Argentina international hooker, Eusebio Guiñazú who played the final 16 minutes for Biarritz. USA international winger, Taku Ngwenya, was impressive yet again as he scored a try for Biarritz and looks set to impress in New Zealand 2011 as mucha s he did in France 2007. Brive featured two Pumas players with former international prop Pablo Cardinali and current international scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola both starting.

Montpellier's chances of making the Top 14 play-off's for the first time in the clubs history were dented on Saturday as Bayonne scored an upset 22-17 win. Despite losing, Montpellier nonetheless remain in sixth place but cannot afford any further loses. Uncapped Argentine fullback / winger Martín Bustos Moyano kicked four penalties for Montpellier but it was not enough to secure victory. He was joined by the returning Argentina international prop, Juan Figallo and Pumas inside centre / flyhalf Santiago Fernández in the starting XV. Both sides need to win their remaining fixtures if they are to make the play-off's and also to secure a place in next seasons Heineken Cup.

Bottom of the table and the already relegated Bourgoin lost again at home, this time to Castres who secured a bonus point victory which has seen them pile the pressure on the top sides in the competition as the countdown to the play-offs continues. The 33-22 victory featured retired Uruguayan international backrower and captain, Rodrigo Capo Ortega who was on the ben ch for Castres. Uncapped Argentine centre Matias Viazzo came off the bench for Bourgoin and slotted a conversion. Such is the strength of Argentine players in France that Viazzo will not be considered for the Los Pumas squad for New Zealand 2011.

Similar to Toulon, Perpignan needed a victory over a top ranked side and they succeeded in making this happen as Perpignan defeated Paris side Racing Metro 23-16 at home on Saturday. Retired Argentina secondrower Rimas Alvarez started for Perpignan and played the full 80 minutes. While two players in contention for a place in Los Pumas squad for New Zealand 2011 played for Racing Metro with Alvaro Galindo starting in the backrow and prop Juan Pablo Orlandi coming on as a replacement in the 38th minute. Perpignan remain outside of the top 6 but if results go their way they will make the play-offs. Racing Metro are now tied for second place with Castres.

Résumé du match USAP vs Racing Métro 92 - avril... por USAP_Communication
Top 14 Table

1 Toulouse 73 
2 Racing Metro 68 
3 Castres 68 
4 Clermont 67 
5 Biarritz 67 
6 Montpellier 66 
7 Toulon 65 
8 Perpignan 63 
9 Bayonne 62 
10 Stade Francais 49 
11 Agen 46 
12 Brive 42 
13 La Rochelle 33 
14 Bourgoin 5

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