Sunday, April 1, 2012

French Top 14 - Round 22 Wrap

Imhoff certain to be the Pumas 11
Racing Métro 27-16 Castres
Racing Métro put in a strong performance in Paris in Friday´s only match to move back into the play-off´s zone and see Castres fall from 4th to 5th in the standings. With no Heineken Cup matches remaining this season, Racing Métro´s chances of a place in the play-off´s are all that much better as the club will be able to have fresh legs for its remaining Top 14 season matches. Moreover, all four remaining matches are against teams lower in the standings. The win over Castres featured four Pumas players as Juan Martin Hernández pulled the strings from flyhalf in playing an open brand of rugby. He succeeded in putting players into space, something that will be key for Argentine rugby this year in The Rugby Championship. The impressive Juan Imhoff again had a solid match on the left wing, scoring a secondhalf try and regularly getting past his man. Both players played the full 80 minutes while Juan Orlandi started at at tighthead prop, playing the first hour. As he left Alvaro Galindo entered as he played in the backrow for the final quarter of the match. His return to Los Pumas will be key this season with Argentina have a packed schedule which includes a record twelve test matches. 

Figuerola looking like a Puma again
Brive 14-9 Toulon
A major upset sees Brive´s chances of relegation have all but vanish entirely while Toulon´s impressive secondhalf performance from last weekend vs Racing Métro was nowhere to be seen. Brive are now eight points clear of 13th place and should the club win its home match vs Bordeaux-Begles on May 04th the club will all but certainly remain in France´s Top Flight. Scrumhalf, Agustín Figuerola started and played 75 minutes as he continues his push for Argentina´s 9 shirt despite not being selected for Rugby World Cup 2011. Former Pumas prop, Pablo Henn came on for Brive as a replacement in the 58th minute. Leonardo Senatore played the fullmatch in the backrow for the visitors. 

Perpignan 47-9 Bayonne
Two teams fighting it out for survival saw Welsh international, James Hook find good form as he scored 25 points to destory Bayonne who are now walking a tight rope with relegation increasingly looking certain. The visitors were totally outclassed and lacked ideas as the teams high profile players including All Blacks Joe Rokocoko, Neemia Tialata and Troy Flavell, Wales´ Mike Phillips and France´ Cedric Heymans are yet to gel and the chance of it happening is highly remote. 

Leguizamón maturing by the year
Lyon 24-13 Bordeaux
A vital in keeps Lyon´s dream of surviving in the Top 14 Orange alive. It is a tough challenge as, despite winning, Lyon are ten points behind Perpignan, eleven behind Biarritz and Bordeaux and twelve behind Agen and Brive. Lyon need to get ahead of one of these teams and hope Bayoone continue to lose matches.  It is, however, certainly a possibility as Lyon has games against Montpellier, Bayonne, Perpignan and Toulon remaining. It needs to target three wins and should be strong for both home matches - Bayonne and Toulon. The match vs Toulon could well see a weak Toulon side as it is in the final round of the Top 14 and, Toulon will have already secured its place in the play-offs. In Lyon OU´s win over Bordeaux-Begles, Santiago del Estero´s most famous product, Juan Manuel Leguizamón played the full 80 minutes in the backrow while Rafael Carballo continued his push for a recall to Los Pumas as he played the full match on the wing for Bordeaux-Begles. Flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez remains on the sidelines injured. 

Montpellier 44-18 Agen
L.G.A now Argentina´s leading fullback
The fantastic form of Lucas González Amorosino just continues as the man used so poorly by the Leicester Tigers scored another good try for Montpellier. Playing the full match at fullback, González Amorosino continued his outstanding combination with Martín Bustos Moyano in the back-three. Bustos Moyano had another good day himself to show his crentials as possibly Argentina´s best goalkicker. He converted all five of Montpellier´s tries and landed three penalties and scored a try of his own in scoring 24 points. The man charged wtih replacing Mario Ledesma, Agustín Creevy started and played 74 minutes at hooker. Maxiliano Bustos played the final seven minutes at prop while inside centre, Santiago Fernández came on in the 46th minute. Agen´s Belisario Agulla played on the right wing. 

Biarritz 15-14 Clermont
Guiñazú could yet be a Puma in 2012
No longer in danger of being relegated, Biarritz completed a major coup d´ tat in defeating the second placed Clermont Auvergne by a single point. The win puts Biarritz seven points clear of the relegation zone and with Biarritz playing Bayonne next round, on April 14th, a win would all but confirm Biarritz´s survival regardless of how it goes in the other remaining Top 14 Orange matches. Surprizingly, Eusebio Guiñazú was Biarritz´s starting hooker and got plenty of game time. He was joined in the frontrow by uncapped tighthead prop, Francisco Gomez Kodela who played 24 minutes. Centre Marcelo Bosch was also on the bench and came on in the 65th minute. Secondrower Manuel Carizza did not feature. Clermont´s Canadian enforcer, Jamie Cudmore featured for the visitors from the bench.

Stade Français 18-22 Toulouse

Vergallo´s 9 position is under threat
Toulouse go clear of Clermont to hold a four point lead in the competition with their away win at the Stade de France. The result also means Stade Français fall outside of the barrage zone, but just a sinlge point behind Paris rivals, Racing Métro and a further point behind Castres. On form both Paris teams should make the play-off´s with Castres missing out. Stade Français´ 10-12 Pumas combination of Felipe Contepomi and Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga remains intact with the players former the playing combination for the full 80 minutes and Contepomi landing 12 points. Veteran Pumas loosehead prop Rodrigo Roncero started in the number 1 shirt and played 75 minutes. A potential Pumas prop of the future, Francisco Nahuel Tetaz, entered the match with 12 minutes remaining while Sergio Parrise played the full match in the backrow and scored a disallowed try. The USA´s Scott LaValla was unsued from the bench. Pumas scrumhalf, Nicolás Vergallo played 15 minutes as a replacement for Toulouse and looked solid despite lacking game time. Secondrower, Patricio Albacete was rested by Toulouse while Gonzalo Tiesi is expected to return shortly for the Parisians.

Racing Métro vs Castres

RM 92 v CO - Le résumé en vidéo por racingmetro92

Brive vs Toulon

Perpignan vs Bayonne

Résumé du match USAP Bayonne Avril 2012 por USAP_Communication

Montpellier vs Agen

Interviews d'après match : MHR-Agen por MontpellierRugby

Biarritz vs Clermont

BO-ASM : Le Résumé por asm

Top 14 Orange Standings
1 Toulouse 78
2 Clermont 74
3 Toulon 63
4 Montpellier 57
5 Castres 55
6 Racing Métro 54
7 Stade Français 53
8 Agen 42
9 Brive 42
10 Biarritz 41
11 Bordeaux 41
12 Perpignan 40
13 Bayonne 34
14 Lyon 30

* Play-offs and Heineken Cup Qualification
* Facing relegation


  1. Lyon and Bayonne are basically down now, can't see that changing and to be honest it's looked like they were both going down for a while

    I wonder how much of Bayonne's "stars" will stay for a season in Pro D2, very poor value recruitment, something Bayonne seem to specialise in like no other team, wouldn't be surprised to see that idiot Henson there ...

    I can't see the top 5 not qualifying either, the 6th place will come down to Racing-Métro vs Stade Français at the Stade de France, that will be huge

    I hope Stade win as Racing have been played so inconsistently and underachieved to their potential, also I would like to see Imhoff and Hernández with the Pumas as early as possible although whoever wins isn't going to beat Toulon away so all the Parisians should be with the Argentina

  2. Honestly I think Lyon have more chance of surviving due to the teams remaining matches. But, like you say, both teams are basically down. A shame for Lyon given it was dominant in the Pro d2 last season and is France´s second largest city. It is, however, a lesson to all that upon promotion to the Top 14 teams have got to recruit more than a handful of players. The players have got to be solid. Toulon and Racing Métro splashed out loads of money to make the transition fine. Grenoble will be in the Top 14 next year and will use the Stade des Alpes a lot. But without signing the right players they´ll be another Lyon.

    Montpellier´s transition should be a lesson to the likes of Brive, Perpignan and Biarritz. The team went for young talented players and turned them into stars. A coach who believes in them made the world of difference. Leicester´s handling of Amorosino could go down in history as one of the biggest ever botches.