Saturday, March 30, 2013

Top 14 - Round 23 Wrap

Biarritz 33-16 Grenoble
Round 23 started on Good  Friday with one match being played. In went conditions the home side overcame  a good start from Grenoble who had gone ahead in the 17th minute with a penalty try. Biarritz scored two tries with one of them going to USA Eagles winger Taku Ngwenya who scored in the right hand corner.  he was joined in the back-three by Marcelo Bosch who in styarting at fullback played against his Pumas teammate Joaquín Tuculet. The third choice Pumas tighthead prop was also involved in the match as Francisco Gómez Kodela came off the bench for Biarritz in secondhalf. The result sees Biarritz move, for now, into 8th position but are well off the pace as the 6th placed Montpellier have eight further points which will likely become twelve or thirteen today as the team faces bottom placed Mont de Marsan. Grenoble, in contrast is in nineth place and is safe from relegation but its impressive early season form has vanished. The club will need to recruit well to succeed next season.

SF Paris 11-43 Toulon
Stade Français moved its home match from Paris to the northern French city of Lille. The match was played at the 50,000 capacity Lille Métropole but despite being a huge occassion the Parisians were hugely disappoinintg in losing by a big scoreline. Toulou won by scoring four tries to one and the first was scored by Argentine captain, Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe. The returning backrower started the match as one of two players from the Americas. The other was his teammate, Delon Armitage who was born in San Fernando, Trinidad and Tobago but after being raised in England played for the English and started at rugby World Cup 2011. None of Stade Français´s players from the Americas featured.

Bordeaux 39-13 Bayonne
A five tries to one romp should have been enough to save the season for Bordeaux-Begles. The club had been in the relegation zone for much of the season but is now looking pretty and comfortable unlike Agen. Bordeaux-Begles needs to recuirt well for the 2013-2014 season with it needing bigger and better forwards. The club is home to two of the best flyhalves in France - Camille Lopez ad Argentina´s Nicolás Sánchez. Lopez started the match and looked good. he should be starting at flyhalf against the All Blacks in June. Sánchez was on the bench for this match while former Pumas winger Rafael Carballo started on the right wing and scored a try. 

Clermont 66-21 Agen
A massive win for Clermont Auvergne sees the club go into next weekends Heineken Cup Quarter Final in good form. Agen, in contrast are now all but certain to be relegated to the Pro d2. Clermont won the match today by ten tries to three and did so without Canadian enforcer Jamie Cudmore who withdrew from the match due to health concerns. Agen welcomed back Belisario Agulla from injury. He was on the bench while former Pumas centre Miguel Avramovic started in the midfield.

Mont de Marsan 17-30 Montpellier
An important home win for Montpellier gives itself some comfortable breathing space. While there are still three rounds remaining it is now likely that the same six teams currently qualifying for the play-offs will indeed be the final six. Mont de Marsan will be back in the Pro d2 and will need to recruit well or will be a midtable side. Montpellier´s win was by three tries to two and one of the tries was scored by a Puma as Lucas González Amorosino scored in the 16th minute. It was converted by Martín Bustos Moyano who joined González Amorosino in the starting back-three. Second choice Pumas tighthead prop, Maximilano Bustos also started while two other Pumas were on the bench. Agustín Creevy entered the match in the 51st minute at hooker while Nahuel Lobo played 20 minutes at prop. 

Perpignan 20-21 Castres
A one point defeat for the home team whould mean that it will not not be able to make the Top 14 barrage. It is still in touh with Racing Métro and Montpellier but needs resutls now to go its way if it is to succeed in reaching the final six. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega missed out on playing due to injury. In sad news for rugby fans former Perpignan winger, Samueli Naulu died this weekend in an accident. Our thoughts are with his family.

Racing Métro 26-27 Toulouse
An epic contest at the Stade de France saw Toulouse come from behind to win thre match by a single point after Vincent Clerc scored with one minute remaining. With Lionel Beauxis landing the conversion Toulouse stole victory. The try was a valid one but it needed confirmation from the video referee. The match featured five Pumas with Patricio Albacete starting in the secondrow for Toulouse and facing off against his Pumas colleague Manuel Carriza. Elsewhere Racing Métro fielded Alvaro Galindo in the backrow but was replaced in the secondhalf. Both Juan Imhoff and Juan Martín Hernández started in the back-three with Imhoff playing right wing and Hernández playing fullback. All five players are likely starters for Argentina´s first match of the 2013 Rugby Championship against South Africa in Bloemfontein.

Top 14 Standings
1 Toulon 82
2 Clermont 80
3 Toulouse 73 
4 Castres 66
5  Montpellier 63
6 Racing Métro 63
7 Perpignan 57
8 Biarritz 51
9 Grenoble 49
10 Paris 46
11 Bayonne 45
12 Bordeaux 41
13 Agen 27
14 Mont de Marsan 15 

* Play-Off´s Places
* Facing Relegation

Biarritz v Grenoble

Paris v Toulon

Racing Métro v Toulouse

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