Monday, December 31, 2012

Top 14 - Round 14 Wrap

Racing Métro 40-6 Agen
A big home win for Racing Métro sees the club recover some what after some below par performances in the recent rounds of the Top 14. The club is in contention for a Quarter Finals appearance in the Heineken Cup and is now eight points outside of the Top 14´s play-off´s as they currently stand. The team should be able to return to the Top Six in January. Agen, in contrast is battlting to avoid relegation and it was unable to score any competition points in its loss on Sunday against Racing Métro. The clubs injury crisis is not helping matters and it seems that Agen is more likely to drop to the Pro d2 than the 12th place Bordeaux-Begles. Racing Métro´s victory featured three tries with Argentina´s Juan Imhoff scoring one of them. He started on the left wing with Juan Martín Hernández playing fullback and Alvaro Galindo starting in the backrow. All three got plenty of test time in 2012 for Argentina and should return in 2013. Another that played was Juan Pablo Orlandi, he replaced French test prop Luc Ducalcon in the 57th minute. Agen also had an Argentine player with former Pumas centre Miguel Avramovic starting in the midfield.

Mont de Marsan 18-19 Biarritz
A depleted Biarritz very nearly lost against bottom of the table Mont de Marsan in an away match. Biarritz were able to win thanks to a late penalty try which was converted. Had the penalty try not been awarded then Biarritz would have lost. Taku Ngwenya played on the right wing for Biarritz.

Grenoble 19-9 Bordeaux-Begles
The relegation threatened Bordeaux-Begles not only lost against this seasons surprize package but was unable to pick up a bonus point. As such Agen´s huge loss against Racing Métro matters not. There is room for optimisim from a Bordeaux-Begles perspective given that it has a points for and against record of -70 points which is significantly better than the three other sides that occupy the bottom four. Bayonne has a record of -111, Agen of -163 and Mont de Marsan of -193. Bordauex-Begles should therefore be able to retain its place in the Top 14 for next season. One of the best Bordeaux players this season has been Camille Lopez who has been prefered to Argentina´s Nicolás Sánchez for many matches. Sánchez played the final 12 minutes this weekend. Another young Pumas back, Joaquín Tuculet came off the bench to play the final four minutes for Grenoble.

Clermont Auvergne 48-3 Bayonne
Another home win for Clermont Auvergne and another bonus point one sees the central French side continue its spectacular season which has the club favorite to win its group in the Heineken Cup and quite possibly dispute the final against Toulon. The same two are the leading sides in this seasons Top 14. Bayonne is having a hot and cold season with the Basque club far from being threatened with relegation but the side looking more likely of falling than climbing the standings. Canada´s Jamie Cudmore started the match in the secondrow for the winners. He is virtually assured of returning to international colors in 2013 to help Canada compete against the USA in qualifying matches for Rugby World Cup 2015. 

Castres 16-18 Toulouse
The local derby was another example of how well Castres is playing this season and how poorly Toulouse is. The French champions have been utterly of their game with losses agaisnt the Ospreys and Grenoble in the weeks leading up to this match. Usually Toulouse would be expected to win agaisnt Castres by 10 points or more but the French giants will be happy to have won at all as for the third week in a row Toulouse failed to score a try. Lionel Beauxis scored all its points as her kicked six goals. The Argentine international player of the year Patricio Albacete featured for Toulouse, playing 80 minutes in the secondrow.

Montpellier 54-16 Paris
A demolition job at the Stade Yves Du Manoir sees Montpellier close the gap between itself and Castres to just two points. The six tries to one performance featured a master class display from Argentina´s Martín Bustos Moyano. Despite being in the Pumas squad in 2012 and in previous years he has been unable to break into the match day 23 at all with his only test being his debut against Chile before he played porfessional rugby. Bustos Moyano scored a try and kicked ten goals  to score 29 points. He must surely feature for Argentina in 2013, possibly as the starting right winger and goalkicker in June. Bustos Moyano was joined in the starting lineup by Santi Fernández who played at inside centre, Agustín Creevy at hooker and  Juan Figallo at tighthead prop. Maximilano Bustos played half of the match from the bench for Montpellier.

Toulon 46-13 Perpignan
Top of the table Toulon had a match of two halves as it started slowly with Perpignan scoring the only try of the first half in just the third minute. Toulon took the lead through the boot of Jonny Wilkinson and then scored four second half tries to complete a bonus point victory to maintain its seven point advantage in the competition while in losing Perpignan drop to sit even with Racing Métro. Los Pumas skipper Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe started the match in the backrow for Toulon.


Top 14 Standings
1 Toulon 56
2 Clermont 49
3 Toulouse 46 
4 Castres 43
5 Montpellier 41
6 Grenoble 38
7 Biarritz 32
8 Racing Métro 30 
9 Perpignan 30
10 Paris 28
11 Bayonne 26
12 Bordeaux 18 
13 Agen 17
14 Mont de Marsan 7 

* Play-off´s Places
* Facing Relegation

Mont de Marsan v Biarritz

Clermont v Bayonne

Castres v Toulouse

Montpellier v Stade Français Paris

Toulon v Perpignan

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