Sunday, December 23, 2012

Top 14 - Round 13 Wrap

Bordeaux-Begles 24-28 Clermont Auvergne
Round 13 started on Friday with the relegation threatened Bordeaux-Begles hosting title contenders Clermont Auvergne. The home side impressed by scoring two tries to one but Clermont, as expected, completed the victory. Clermont are title contenders while Bordeaux-Begles needs to get every point it can and it should be happy to have collected a bonus point against a team like Clermont. Argentine flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez was on the bench for the home side.

Grenoble 15-6 Toulouse
A tryless match kicked off the action on Saturday but the home side will not mind that at all. Grenoble´s great win sees Toulouse´s horror continue as it failed to scored a try in last weekends dreadful showing against the Ospreys in Swansea. Toulouse looked like anything other than French Champions with the loss of former All Black Luke McAlister seemingly taking away all of the teams playmaking. The result provides further reason to suggest that Clermont and Toulon are the best French clubs this season. Both could very well contest the Heineken Cup and the Top 14 Finals. The match was also notable for where it was played - the Stade des Alpes. The game was a sellout with anotherTop 14 club showcasing how far the Top 14 has come under professionalism.  Grenoble´s Pumas fullback Joaquín Tuculet did not play against Toulouse while Patricio Albacete played the full 80 minutes in the secondrow for the visitors. He may well be in series trouble after he and Yannick Nyanga dangerously cleared Grenoble´s Best out of ruck.  

Castres 31-10 Racing Métro
Castres played probably its best match of the season while Racing Métro played its worst. The results sees Castres now tied with Toulouse for third position while Racing Métro are in eleventh place. The teams Argentine coach Gonzalo Quesada fielded an interesting team with a number of the clubs best players not in action, amongst them were Juan Martín Hernández and Olly Barkley. Two Pumas nonetheless started with Juan Imhoff playing on the wing and Manuel Carizza in the secondrow. Castres´s back-three of Marc Andreu, Brice Dulin and Roman Martial were highly impressive and were clearly the best back-three of the competition this weekend.

Perpignan 30-19 Montpellier
Montpellier really ought to have won this match but the team was not at full strength despite the return of François Trinh-Duc from injury. He started at flyhalf which saw Santi Fernández move to be the bench after the Pumas centre had done well over the past two weekends at flyhalf in Montpellier´s two wins over the Cardiff Blues in the Heineken Cup. His Pumas teammate Maximilano Bustos was also on the bench while Argentine prop Juan Figallo started at tighthead prop, scoring Montpellier´s only try. Agustín Creevy also played, starting at hooker while Lucas González Amorosino who signed a new contract with the club this past week was the startying fullback. Martín Bustos Moyano was amongst the players rested. Montpellier remain in the top six despite the loss while Perpignan are in seventh spot, arguably surprizingly ahead of Stade Français, Biarritz, Racing Métro.

SF Paris 36-23 Biarritz
Stade Fançais are all but certain to feature in the Amlin Challenge Cup Quarter Finals and host the match itself but it is off the pace in the Top 14. A lot can change in a short period of time and both Stade Français and Biarritz are shadows the powerhouse teams they were in the years leading up to France hosting Rugby World Cup 2007. Neither side is in the top six now which would have been utterly unthinkable around 2007.  The Parisians won the match to stay in check with the top six and are now tied with Biarritz. Both teams and Perpignan will need to win to enter the top six given than Grenoble is sixth and just defeated the champions. The first try of Paris v Biarritz was scored by the USA´s Taku Ngwenya while his USA Eagles teammate, Scott LaValla started in the secondrow for Stade Français. Neither Marcelo Bosch nor Francisco Goméz Kodela featured.

Bayonne 39-13 Mont de Marsan
Bayoone´s important home victory improves its position which decreases its chances of being relegated. Mont de Marsan, on the other hand, are all but certain to drop back to the Pro d2. 

Agen 9-15 Toulon
One week hot, the next not. This has been the story of Toulon for much of the season. It broke records last weekend against Sale Sharks one week after winning a low scoring match. Similarly its win this weekend against the relegation threatened Agen was narrow. Toulon nevertheless won the tryless match to reamin well clear of Clermont Auvergne in first place. The win featured Los Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe in the backrow for Toulon and former test centre Miguel Avramovic for Agen. The loss was actually a good one for Agen as, like Bordeaux-Begles, it secured a bonus point. 

Top 14 Standings
1  Toulon 51
2 Clermont 44 
3 Toulouse 42
4 Castres 42
5 Montpellier 36
6 Grenoble 34
7 Perpignan 30
8 Paris 28
9 Biarritz 28
10 Bayonne 26
11 Racing Métro 25
12 Bordeaux 18
13 Agen 17
14 Mont de Marsan 6

* Play-Off´s Places
* Facing Relegation

Bordeaux v Clermont

Castres v Racing Métro

Perpignan v Montpellier

Stade Français Paris v Biarritz

Bayonne v Mont de Marsan

Agen v Toulon

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