Monday, January 9, 2012

Top 14 Round 15 wrap

Argentine player of 2011 Patricio Albacete made his comeback this weekend
Agen 6-15 Biarritz
Biarritz moved themselves from bottom spot with an away win over Agen, who fall out of the top 6. A very scrappy, ill tempered match but the Basque side won't care in the end as they took 4 crucial away points in a match which Agen will be very disappointed in getting nothing from. Dimitri Yachvili has shown what a difference he makes to the Biarritz side, he partnered Marcelo Bosch who played 10 and scored a drop goal, other Argentines playing were Francisco Gómez Kodela and Martín Scelzo who started tighthead for their respective sides. Zimbabwean-American Takudzwa Ngwenya also played.

Bayonne 20-27 Bordeaux-Bègles
It was not such good news for the other Basque side, who are only not in the relegation zone due to a better points difference than Biarritz. Bayonne managed to get a losing bonus point but were down 27-6 at one point, after being criticised by French newspaper L'Equipe during the week, and even more heavily criticised by Bayonne fans on message boards wondering what they paid for, former All Black did nothing to prove the critics wrong as he gifted Bordeaux the first try in the third minute with a pass to nobody 10 metres out from the tryline, another player who is proving to be a dreadful signing for Bayonne, Sione Lauaki was taken off at half time. Rafael Carballo was the only player from the Americas in the match.

Toulouse 51-10 Lyon
Toulouse easily defeated bottom side Lyon pulling away towards the end scoring three tries in the last 10 minutes, Patricio Albacete made his comeback and played an hour, Juan Manuel Leguizamón played the whole match for Lyon. Lyon, who at the beginning of the season were the more favoured of the promoted sides to stay up, simply must win their game in hand against Bordeaux or they will face a mountain to climb to stay up.


Stade Français 38-21 Castres
Stade Français made up for their miserable performance last week, scoring 6 tries against fourth placed Castres, Felipe Contepomi was on great form playing a big part in creating tries for Stade. Martín Rodríguez Gurrachaga also played and hopefully this got his nightmare from last week out of his system. American lock Scott LaValla came off the bench, he this week signed a three year contract extension with Stade.

Brive 9-23 Montpellier
Montpellier worked hard but overcame Brive comfortably enough, Martín Bustos Moyano had a great day with the boot, getting some very hard kicks, Lucas González Amorosino also started, whilst Brive had Pablo Henn and Pablo Cardinali starting as props in the front row. Agustín Creevy and Maximiliano Bustos came off the bench for Montpellier. Montpellier are in a fight with Agen, Racing-Métro and Stade Français for a place in the knockout rounds, but they have looked much stronger since the World Cup and have a stronger fortress at home than Racing-Métro.

Perpignan 14-14 Racing-Métro
Racing-Métro were content to play for the draw in the last play, but must know they really missed an opportunity to win this match. Despite conceding a try very early on, they came back into the match but fly half Jonathan Wisniewski had a poor day with the boot missing several kicks he would expect to get. The only player from the Americas playing in the match, Juan Imhoff showed exactly why I rate him so highly. Imhoff playing unusually at full back, burst through the Perpignan defence several times, and then a few minutes later and ran around the Perpignan defence for a great individual try. The press and fans were praising him massively at the end of the match.

Clermont 25-19 Toulon
Although Clermont got the victory, it wasn't as easy as it normally is for them at the Stade Marcel-Michelin where they are literally invincible (haven't lost since 2009 and their consecutive wins there is approaching 40), Clermont were trailing for a lot of the match after a mix up from a restart allowed Benjamin Lapeyre to score for Toulon. Clermont despite putting on pressure looked muddled when in the 22 metre line, and ignored their backs whilst there despite Malzieu and Rougerie looking dangerous. It was that duo who combined to score for Clermont and win them the match, with Malzieu showing why he was criminally overlooked by Marc Lièvremont. Toulon had a period of pressure five metres from the Clermont line in the last five minutes but Clermont held out, Toulon will be pleased to take a bonus point from Clermont's fortress. No players from the Americas played in the match.

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