Saturday, February 16, 2013

Top 14 - Round 18 Wrap

Toulouse 18-19 Perpignan
There were massive celebrations as the mighty Toulouse were defeated at home by a club well down the ladder. Perpignan´s impressive win was against a club missing players to international duty but Toulouse nonetheless had a star-studded side. Patricio Albacete played in the secondrow with a host of former French internationals who are quite clearly better than those in the current French squad joining him. 

Toulon 51-6 Montpellier
A Toulon team without the underperforming French test flyhalf Fredéric Michalak played one of its best matches of the season as Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau saw the club humiliate Montpellier. Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe started in the backrow with a former Springbok and a former All Black. Toulon was missing players as was Montpellier. Santiago Fernández started at flyhalf and Martín Bustos Moyano kicked two penalties playing fullback. An unusual frontrow selection saw Juan Figallo on the bench. He was a secondhalf replacement as was Maximilano Bustos. Lucas González Amorsino did not play as his outstanding form from the 2011-2012 season has not been repeated in the ongoing season. 

Grenoble 27-13 Agen
It is uncommon for a team to defeat Toulouse one week and then lose against Grenoble but such is the competitiveness of the 2012-2013 Top 14 season that there have been surprizes that in previous seasons were extremely rare. Grenoble has been a revelation this season and is not onlt looking safe from relegation but is also a real chance of making the play-off´s in its first season of Top 14 rugby. Argentine fulback Joaquín Tuculet was a 68th minute replacement for Grenoble while former Pumas inside centre Miguel Avramovic and secondrower Esteban Lozada featured for Agen. Avramovic played 80 minutes while Lozada was on the bench.

Racing Métro 15-10 Bayonne
The home team won without scoring a try but this will hardly concern the Gonzalo Quesada coached club. Worrying signs for Argentina as Juan Martín Hernández left the field after only thirteen minutes. The exact problem is yet to be identified but the initial images were not optimistic. He started the match at fullback as one of four Pumas in the starting lineup. Juan Imhoff played left wing, Juan Pablo Orlandi tighthead prop and Alvaro Galindo played in the backrow. Earllier this week Galindo revealed that he would not be staying at Racing Métro next season. He will decide on playing for a rival French club or returning to Argentina.

Stade Français 30-14 Bordeaux-Begles
The Parisians lack the reputation of the past but today´s performance at home was nonetheless strong. In 2012 Nicolás Sánchez replaced Hernández as Argentina´s starting flyhalf and he started in the position today for Bordeaux-Begles. He only last a quaerter of the game though as he was knocked-out and replaced by Camile Lopez in the 20th minute. Former Pumas winger Rafael Carballo also featured for Bordeaux as a second half replacement. USA forward Scott LaValla was a 49th minute replacement for Paris. The reslult means Bordeaux are still only one point out of the relegation zone while for Paris it meant the club edged closer to the top six. It was far from ideal though and Italian supporters will be concerned over the possible suspension over Stade Français Paris´s Argentine-Italian captain Sergio Parisse who may miss out on Six Nations duty. Parisse scored a try in the 4th minute onl to be red carded in the 36th minute.

Clermont Auvergne 56-3 Mont de Marsan
Even without a host of international players Clermont Auvergne was far too strong for the bottom of the table Mont de Marsan. Two players who are not in Phillipe Saint-André´s Six Nations squad but probably should be in it played for Clermont - Aurelin Rougerie and Jean-Marcellin Buttin. Canadian enforcer Jamie Cudmore started in the secondrow and scored a try in the 43rd minute.

Biarritz Olympique 15-9 Castres Olympique 
The final match of the round was a tryless dour encounter but an important one for both teams. Biarritz´s win sees the club move closer to the barrage zone but still havign a lot of work to do. The one point collected by Castres sees the club go ahead of Montpellier and hold a five point lead over the sixth places Grenoble and Racing Métro. The match featured international players from Los Pumas, Los Teros and the USA Eagles. Marcelo Bosch played inside centre and performed well. Taku Ngwenya played on the right wing and almost scored in combination with Bosch while a player expected to make an international come back in 2013, Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega played in the secondrow for Castres.

Top 14 Standings
1 Toulon 66
2 Clermont 60
3 Toulouse 55
4 Castres 50
5 Montpellier 49
6 Grenoble 46
7 Racing Métro 46
8 Perpignan 43
9 Paris 41
10 Biarritz 41
11 Bayonne 35
12 Bordeaux 24
13 Agen 23 
14 Mont de Marsan 14

* Play-Off´s Places
* Facing Relegation

Toulouse v Perpignan

Toulon v Montpellier

Grenoble v Agen

Racing Métro v Bayonne

Paris v Bordeaux

Clermont Auvergne v Mont de Marsan

Biarritz v Castres

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