Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Top 14 - Round 23

Round 23 of the biggest domestic rugby competition in the world, the Top 14 Orange took place over the past weekend and the run into the play-off´s continued to deliver surprizes as nine of the 14 temas remain in contention for an appearance in the play-offs phase. A key match took place in Perpignan on Friday evening as USAP hosted competition leaders and favourites, Toulouse. Perpignan were in need of a home victory as they entered the round in the Top 6 but only just A loss would have seen them overtaken by other sides facing weaker opposition. Toulouse fielded a weakend side as they prepare their forces for next weekends Heineken Cup Quarter Final match in Spain. Toulouse did however manage to sneak in a 25-24 victory but at a cost as scrumhalf Frederico Michalak was injured. Argentine international secondrower Patricio Albacete played the full 80 minutes for the winners and went up against his former Pumas secondrow team mate, Rimas Alvarez Kairelis who played until being replaced in the 59th minute. The win sees Toulouse open up a noticeable lead ahead of the pack at the top of the ladder.

A highly entertaining match took place in eastern France on Saturday as bottom of the table Bourgoin played host to the seasons surprize package, Montpellier. The result was never in doubt but the matter in which it took place privided great entertainment for the locals but not a victory as Montpellier pulled off a 42-27 win. Uncapped Argentine centre Matías Viazzo featured for Bourgoin but it was an uncapped Argentine player playing for Montpellier who stole the thunder as Martín Bustos Moyano scored two tries and scored a personal tally of 27 points for Montpellier. He was joined in the starting lineup by Los Pumas inside centre Santiago Fernández who also scored a try and USA international outside centre Seta Tuiveluka. The victory sees Montpellier move up to third position, less than one win behind second placed Racing Metro.

The Parisian team of Racing Metro had an unexpected 26-16 away loss to Bayonne. The result sees Racing fall behind Toulouse but more importantly sees Bayonne´s chances of making the play-off´s stay in tact. Former Argentine international tighthead prop Juan Pablo Orlandi completed his return from injury to take his place on the bench for the Parisians. He was joined by Argentina born Italian international secondrower Santiago Dellapé who was one of three Italians in the Racing Metro team for the clash. Argentina international backrower Alvaro Galindo did nto feature for Racing Metro.

A highly anticipated match in central France turned out to be a thrashing as Clermont lead by 22-0 in as many minutes in their home clash vs Biarritz on Saturday. But this stage the match was effectively over and Clermont went on to win 41-13. Biarritz´s only try was scored by USA international winger Taku Ngwenya who has been singled out by former French captain Rafael Ibañez as the danger man for the Biarritz vs Toulouse Heineken Cup Quarter Final this coming weekend. He was joined by Argentina international centre Marcelo Bosch who almost scored a first half try for Biarritz after some good back play which saw him make a linebreak. He has taken the opportunity presented to him to mpress the Argentina selectors and would appear a certainty for Los Pumas squad for New Zealand 2011. Clermont had two players who are all but guaranteed to be in the Los Pumas squad with the frontrow pairing of Mario Ledesma and Martín Scelzo packing down together in a formidable frontrow alongside Thomas Domingo who left the field injured and looks set to miss Rugby World Cup 2011. The result means Biarritz drop to sixth place and Clermont go up to fifth.

Toulon rebounded from a poor showing last weekend to knockover and utterly humiliate the former glamour team of French rugby, Stade Français in a 38-10 thrashing. Yet again the Stade Français wingers looked poor with both Camara and Phillips appearing well out of their depth. The result means Stade Français´ play-offs chances have been ended and underliens the clubs lack of key players which started with the loss of key players in 2007 including Americas players Agustín Pichot and Mike James. Since this time the team has not been the same and the past two seasons have been beyond belief as Stade Français have been simply dreadful. The shocking performance in Toulon featured Argentina born Italian international captain, Sergio Parisse in the starting line up for Stade Français and Pumas loosehead prop Rodrigo Roncero was on the bench. Argentina international backrower Juan Fernández Lobbe played the full match for Toulon.

A key result took place in Agen as the homeside completed a vastly important win 21-16 vs Castres which may well see Agen remain in the Top 14 next season. Agen´s victory sees them now sit nine points clear of La Rochelle who are in 13th place and now looking very certain to join Bourgoin in dropping down to the Pro d2. Former Argentina international centre Miguel Avramovic was on the bench for Agen and retired Uruguayan international forward Rodrigo Capó Ortega was on the bench for Castres. The fate of Agen looks positive for the 2011-2012 season but it is not confirmed. Brive went far to making it official as they knocked over La Rochelle 26-9. Los Pumas scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola was on the bench for the winners as for former Pumas prop Pablo Cardinali. Uncapped Argentina hooker, Andres Bordoy started for La Rochelle.

Retour sur Brive / La Rochelle por AtlantiqueStadeRochelais

Top 14 Ladder

1 Toulouse 73
2 Racing Metro 68
3 Montpellier 65
4 Castres 64
5 Clermont 63
6 Biarritz 62
7 Toulon 61 
8 Perpignan 59 
9 Bayonne 58
10 Stade Francais 49
11 Brive 42 
12 Agen 42
13 La Rochelle 33 
14 Bourgoin 5

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