Saturday, February 9, 2013

Top 14 - Round 17 Wrap

Racing Métro 12-6 Clermont Auvergne
With France playing in the Six Nations against Wales round 17 of the Top 14 was one in whcih clubs with few or no international players had a significant advantage. On Saturday this was extrememly evident as leading clubs all lost. It was also true on Friday as top three club, Clermont Auvergne was far from the team that has played so well this season. It lost in a dour, tryless match against Racing Métro. The result means Racing Métro continue to improve after a poor start to the season. The club is now on the verge of entering the play-off´s zone. It got the win with four Pumas starting. Juan Imhoff played on the elft wing, Juan Martín Hernández at fullback, Juan Pablo Orlandi was tighthead prop and Manuel Carizza started in the secondrow. Clermont also had a player from the Americas involved as the Canadian enforcer, Jamie Cudmore played secondrow against Carizza.

Castres 44-13 SF Paris
A big win for Castres sees the club consolidate its position in the top six. It is in fifth position, seven points clear of Grenoble and Racing Métro who are tied on 42 competition points. Castres welcomed back Uruguayan secondrower Rodrigo Capó Ortega from injury. He started in the number 5 shirt, playing 51 minutes. Stade Français also had a plaer from thre Americas with USA international Scott Lavalla coming off the bench in the 50th minute. 

Bordeaux-Begles 41-0 Toulon
Racing Metro´s win had been an upset of sorts but not unexpected unlike Bordeaux-Begles´s impressive win over Toulon. The top of the table side visited the relegation threatened Bordeaux club and left humiliated. Bordeaux won with a bonus point to get out of the relegation zone for the time being. The win featured former Pumas winger Rafael Carballo who started on the left wing. There was no place, however, for current Pumas flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez who continues to be underused by the club. Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe played at number 8 for Toulon.

Mont de Marsan 32-14 Grenoble
Bottom of the table Mont de Marsan hosted Grenoble in a match featuring the two sides weho won promotion from the Pro d2 last season. Grenoble has adapted greatly to the Top 14 while Mont de Marsan are all but guaranteed to be dropping abck to the Pro d2. The teams win was, in effect, for nothing as both Agen and Bordeaux-Begles lost, the other two clubs currenrtly looking like being in danger. Argentine fullback Joaquín Tuculet started for Grenoble.

Agen 22-9 Toulouse
Agen greatfully hosted a depleted Toulouse side on Saturday afternoon. Toulouse was missing a host of players to international duty whle Agen was missing nobody. The result is great news for the clubs chances of survival but it did not score enough tries. Unlike Bordeaux-Begles and Mont de Marsan Agen won without socring a bonus point. Former Pumas centre Miguel Avramovic made his return from injury to start in the midfield for Agen. Esteban Lozada came on in the 62nd minute in the secondrow while Patricio Albacete started in the same position for Toulouse.

Bayonne 13-10 Perpignan
An important home win for Bayonne sees the club continue to sit at a comfortable distance ahead of the clubs facing relegation. Perpignan should have won the match and in losing have seen rival clubs go ahead in the overall Top 14 standings. 

Montpellier 33-10 Biarritz
International duty meant that Montpellier was missing more than just its captain and starting flyhalf. It was also missing Gorgodze who was playing for Georgia in Tblissi against Portugal in a World Cup qualifier. Biarritz was at closer to full strength but was, nevertheless, badly beaten as Montpelleir´s form since the turn of the year continues to be highly impressive. Montpellier fielded a team featuring five Argentine players in the starting lineup and a sixth on the bench. Biarritz had one starting and a second on the bench and also had a USA player. Santi Fernández started at flyhalf, Lucas González Amorosino at fullback and  Martín Bustos Moyano was a replacement in the Montpellier backline. The Montpellier frontrow was 100% Argentine with Juan Figallo playing loosehead prop, Agustín Creevy at hooker and Maximilano Bustos at tighthead prop. A player in competition with Bustos was on the bench for Biarritz, making his return from an injury lay-off. Francisco Gomez Kodela entered the match in the 46th minute to join Marcelo Bosch who started at inside centre and USA Eagles winger Taku Ngwenya who played on the right wing. 

Top 14 Standings
1 Toulon 61
2 Clermont 55
3 Toulouse 54 
4 Montpellier 49
5 Castres 49
6 Grenoble 42
7 Racing Métro 42
8 Perpignan 39
9 Paris 37
10 Biarritz 37
11 Bayonne 34
12 Bordeaux 23
13 Agen 23
14 Mont de Marsan 14

* Play-Offs Places
* Facing Relegation

Racing Métro v Clermont Auvergne

Castres v Paris

Bordeaux v Toulon

Mont de Marsan v Grenoble 

Agen v Toulouse

Bayonne v Perpignan

Montpellier v Biarritz

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