Monday, January 7, 2013

French Top 14 - Round 15 Wrap

Biarritz 16-11 Agen
One of the most underperforming teams this season has no doubt been Biarritz. The Basque club has been well off the pace and despite sacking the coaches the team remains in a crisis. It would usually be expected to collect a bonus point home victory over Agen but the club was relieved just to win and it was a tough assignment. Agen are in a much worse position than Biarritz with the club facing relegation. It will be very happy to have earned a bonus point for losing the match by less than seven points. Marcelo Bosch was on the bench while Miguel Avramovic started for Agen and Esteban Lozada returned from injury to come off the bench only to be yellow carded quickly. The USA was also represented in this match as Taku Ngwenya´s mortgage of the Biarritz 14 shirt continued.

Clermont Auvergne 36-18 Montpellier
A good result for Clermont maintains the sides perfect record at home. Clermont has now won 53 matches in a row at the Stade Marcel Michelin and there are not many teams left to visit the stadium this season who, on form, can be said as likely to win there. Clermont will host the Exeter Chiefs next weekend in a Heineken Cup match. The French side is likely to get a bonus point win to confirm itself as the winner of the Group before playing the Scarlets in Llanelli on January 19. On form Clermont will also win in Wales, will host a Quarter Final. Clermont´s win over Montpellier featured Canada´s Jamie Cudmore who came off the bench in the 50th minute. Despite the score suggesting Montpellier were well beaten the game featured two tries per team (with Clermont also getting a penalty try) and it was the visitors who scored first with Argentina´s second choice tighthead prop Maximilano Bustos scoring in the second minute. It was converted by Martín Bustos Moyano who started on the wing and scored eight points. Santi Fernández played the final quarter after coming off the bench. 

Grenoble 14-12 Castres
A major clap was claimed as Grenoble defeated the fourth placed Castres to shake up the race for the play-off´s. The top three are all but guaranteed with Toulon, Clermont Auvergne and Toulouse being the best teams this season. Castres and Grenoble are currently looking like making the final six together with Montpellier but Biarritz, Paris, Perpignan and Racing Métro are all alive and any of them could make the cut. Grenoble´s victory over Castres was without Joaquín Tuculet.

Perpignan 26-16 Bordeaux-Begles
The fight to avoid relegation heated up in Perpignan as Bordeaux-Begles left without scoring any competition points to now sit level with Agen. But Bordeaux-Begles was extremely unlucky after Perpignan scored a try in the final minute. It means that Perpignan are still in with a chance of making the play-off´s while the visitors must simply play to avoid dropping to the second division. Two Pumas featured in the match with Nicolás Sánchez starting at flyhalf and kicking three goals while Rafael Carballo also started, playing on the left wing. Both should feature for Argentina in 2013 with Carballo a genuine contender to play centre in the June internationals now that Gonzalo Tiesi is likely to miss out due to his certain involvement in The Rugby Championship. 

Paris 21-13 Bayonne
Stade Français´s rollercoaster season continues as the Parisians recovered from a bad defeat last weekend against Montpellier to defeat sturgglers Bayonne. The win was far from impressive as all of Paris´s points came from the boot of fullback Jerome Porical. No Pumas featured in this match with Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga and Felipe Contepomi needing plenty more recuperation. There were two from the Americas in action however. The Argentine-Italian Sergio Parisse played in the back row while the USA´s Scott LaValla played in the secondrow.

Mont de Marsan 12-16 Toulouse
Reigning Top 14 Champions Toulouse failed to spark yet again as the multiple time Heineken Cup winning club continues to play very poorly. Usually a match against the bottom of the table side would see Toulouse winning by fifty points but, instead, the team winning the bonus point was Mont de Marsan and Toulouse only scored one try. Argentina´s vice-captain Patricio Albacete did not play for Toulouse. 

Toulon 15-19 Racing Métro
In theory a match between the Top of the Table side and a team in the bottom half of the table played at the home of the top side should be a comfortable victory. Racing Métro, however, went to Toulon and conquered and in doing so Toulon lost at home for the first time this season. The Racing Métro team that won featured four Pumas players with Juan Martín Hernández playing tactically very well at fullback. He took on Toulon from inside his own 22 and more often than not it proved to be screwed. He is looking increasingly less likely to play more at flyhalf for either club or country. Joining him in the back three was Juan Imhoff who had few opportunities. Alvaro Galindo started in the back row and had a good all-around performance while Manuel Carizza tackled very well and otherwise was sound in the secondrow for Racing Métro. Juan Pablo Orlandi did not feature however while Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe played 30 minutes for Toulon as a replacement. Corcho will be certain to start next weekend in Toulon´s home match against the Cardiff Blues. Racing Métro will also be in Heineken Cup action, taking on Saracens in Paris. 

Top 14 Standings
1 Toulon 57
2 Clermont 53
3 Toulouse 50
4 Castres 44
5 Grenoble 42 
6 Montpellier 41
7 Biarritz 36
8 Racing Métro 34
9 Perpignan 34
10 Stade Français 32 
11 Bayonne 26
12 Bordeaux 18
13 Agen 18
14 Mont de Marsan 8

* Play-Off´s Places
*  Facing Relegation

Biarritz v Agen

Clermont v Montpellier

Grenoble v Castres

Perpignan v Bordeaux

Paris v Bayonne

Mont de Marsan v Toulouse

Toulon x Racing Métro


  1. Clermont scored 3 tries to 2 by the way, and one of Montpellier's was a consolation so they were quite dominant.

    Do you agree that Carizza is underrated? He is an unsung player in the shadow of Albacete, but always works hard and hits a lot of rucks, is a very solid tackler and doesn't concede many penalties or make many unforced errors either. The Scarlets made a big mistake not to sign him, the locks they signed instead haven't been nearly as effective as he is.

    1. Carizza is rated highly in Argentina but elsewhere I´d say his talents are not noted. The Scarlets couldn´t afford him. There were talks though. Carizza in combination with Albacete is very good, as good as any club or international combination that I am aware of.