Sunday, April 22, 2012

French Top 14 - Round 24 Wrap

Rodrigo Roncero scores for Stade Français
Round 24 of the 2012-2013 French Top 14 confirmed Lyon OU´s relegation back to the Pro d2 after the club lost its bottom of the table clash with Bayonne. The result means France´s second largest city´s stay in the elite of French rugby has been restricted to a single season. It is not yet clear as to which team will be joining Lyon OU in the second division next season but it would appear to be either Bayonne or Brive as the two clubs are tied on 42 points, with both Perpignan and Bordeaux-Begles three points ahead in the standings.  The two remaining rounds are going to be highly nervous times for these clubs with a key match taking place between Brive and Bordeaux-Begles. Bayonne have the tough prospect of facing Agen and then Castres in its final two matches. The highest likelihood would therefore be that Bayonne will be the team joining Lyon in the Pro d2. There is also the remote possibility that any team from the eighth ranked Agen to teams with fewer points being relegated as Bayonne and Brive could both win up to ten points from their remaining matches. 

Clermont 22-9 Montpellier
Yet another home win for the central French side sees Clermont go into its Heineken Cup Semi Final next weekend with confidence. Clermont will take on Irish province, Leinster in Bordeaux with the winner to face either Ulster or Edinburgh for Europe´s ultimate prize in Twickenham in May. Both Clermont and Montpellier were forced to field some second choice players. Clermont was without captain Aurelin Rougerie, Julien Malzieu and Canada´s Jamie Cudmore. Montpellier was missing François Trinh-Duc and  Georgia´s Mamuka Gorgodze. for the match Santiago Fernández played flyhalf rather than inside centre and left the field injured in the secondhalf. He had kicked two penalties after taking over the duties from Martín Bustos Moyano who after kicking an early penalty was also forced from the field with an injury. A third Argentine back started in the line with Lucas González Amorosino playing fullback. Montpellier´s three Pumas frontrowers also recieved game time with Agustín Creevy starting at hooker and Juan Figallo at loosehead prop. Maximilano Bustos came on at tighthead prop in the 62nd minute. USA centre, Seta Tuiveluka is set to return to the team shortly. He got married this weekend!

Bordeaux-Begles 29-15 Agen
A vital win in this derby match could well prove the difference for Bordeaux-Begles as the club has come to be threatened with relegation again following Bayonne´s surprizing two wins over the past two weeks. The club responded well by playing its best match in quite some time to score a bonus point win. Two former Pumas back featured in this match with Rafael Carballo playing the full 80 minutes on the right wing for Bordeaux-Begles and Miguel Avramovic coming off the bench in the 47th minute for Agen to play in the centres. Both are possibilities for Argentina in The Rugby Championship as injury covering players.

Lyon 19-20 Bayonne
Lyon never should have lost this match. Incredibly, Lyon held a 19-7 lead at halftime and failed to score a point after the interval. The teams lack of a quality flyhalf had a lot to do with the downfall of Lyon but the season has been a learning curve and the club should return to the Top 14 stronger after recruiting better players. The club has already confirmed the arrival of Sebastien Chabal. he is not the player he once was but he is certain to be highly influencial in the locker room. The match featured Argentine backrower, Juan Manuel Leguizamón who played the full 80 minutes for Lyon in the 8 shirt.

Stade Français 35-31 Perpignan
Stade Français gave a perfect home send-off to the long time serving loosehead prop, Rodrigo Roncero. The 35 year old turned down an offer to extend his contract with the club to instead return home to Argentina with his wife to raise his three daughters. It also appears that he will retire from all rugby, handing the Argentine number 1 shirt to Marcus Ayerza of Leicester. Roncero scored the first try of the match, going over in the 29th minute after he caught a Perpignan lineout which was overthrown. He was joined by his international captain, Felipe Contepomi who continued his 10-12 partnership with Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga. All three started with Roncero being replaced in the 78th minute. The USA also had a player involved for the Parisians with Scott LaValla playing the final five minutes. The Argentine-Italian, Sergio Parisse played in the backrow too. At the start of the match Roncero and Dimitri Szarzewski entered the fieled together, both playing for the final time in a ome Stade Français match.

Toulouse 30-21 Brive
Brive had been leading 18-15 at half time and looking the goods for a victory but Toulouseps goalkicking got the underperfoming French powerhouses home in the end and prevented Brive from collecting a bonus point. As such Brive are now facing the reality of being relegated The club now must defeat Bordeaux-Begles next round or hope for a miracle away victory over Clermont in the final round. A strong candidate for the Pumas captaincy, Patricio Albacete put in another solid showing as he played the full 80 minutes in the secondrow for Toulouse. Pumas scrumhalf, Nicolás Vergallo did not feature for Toulouse and the chance of him facing his Argentine rival, Agustín Figuerola did not eventuate as Brive also left him outside of the match day 23. Former Pumas loosehead prop, Pablo Henn returned to start in the frontrow for Brive. The result means Toulouse and Clermont are confirmed in the Semi Finals and will have a bye round during the barrage play-off´s 

Biarritz 22-13 Racing Métro
After Racing Métro scored a try in the 52nd minute it looked as though this was going to be a Parisian victory. The relegation threatened Biarritz side dug deep, however, as the Basque side responded with a dropgoal to Damien Traille and the returning Marcelo Bosch then sealed the match with a perfect long pass to the USA´s  Taku Ngwenya in the 71st minute. Bosch came on as a replacement for Biarritz and played the final quarter of the contest. Ngwenya started and was playing against Argentine winger, Juan Imhoff. The battle of the two speedsters was interesting with Ngwenya having to, on two occassions in the second half, use all his speed to stop Imhoff from what would have otherwise been tries. Francisco Gomez Kodela continues to look more and more like a Puma as he played the full match at tighthead prop for Biarritz and was impressive at scrum time. The Argentine pair of Manuel Carizza and Eusebio Guiñazú were both unused from the bench for Biarritz. Racing Métro had five Argentine players with Imhoff being joined in the backs by Juan Martín Hernández who played the full 80 minutes at flyhalf. El Mago was let down by his inside centre as Fabrice Estebanez had a poor showing. Juan Orlandi came on in the 66th minute to play tighthead prop for the Parisians while Alvaro Galindo was a 60th minute replacement in the backrow.  The Argentine-Italian Santiago Dellapé started in the secondrow. 

Toulon 25-25 Castres
A strange performance from the home team may allowed Castres to collect a draw from this match and as such complicate matters greatly for Stade Français. Toulon had been leading the match 25-6 and looked in firm control but the team´s star imports failed to deliver and despite scoring three tries to one Castres managed to fight back to collect a draw as the Scotland of French rugby did it again. Jonny Wilkinson had a lot to do with Toulon´s failure as he landed only 4 of his 7 attempts at goal, missing a simple penalty for his tandards late in the match which would have meant a Toulon victory. The draw puts Castres on 61 points, two ahead of Racing Métro in 6th place and four points ahead of Stade Français. With only the top six making the play-off´s it would appear that Castres are now safe but the club faces Clermont next round. Los Pumas´ backrower, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe continues his come back from knee surgery and came on in the 54th minute for Toulon. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega did not feature for Castres.

Top 14 Orange Standings
1 Clermont 82
2 Toulouse 82
3 Toulon 65
4 Montpellier 62
6 Castres 61
6 Racing Métro 59
7 Stade Français 57
8 Agen 48
9 Biarritz 47
10 Bordeaux 45
11 Perpignan 45 
12 Brive 42
13 Bayonne 42
14 Lyon 31

* Play-off´s spots
* Threatened with relegation
* Relegation confirmed

Clermont vs Montpellier

ASM-Montpellier : Le Résumé por asm

Agen Tries (Bordeaux-Begles vs Agen)

Stade Français vs Perpignan

Résumé du match Stade Français USAP Avril 2012 por USAP_Communication

Toulouse vs Brive

Toulon vs Castres

Résumé Toulon-Castres por rctoulon

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