Saturday, March 9, 2013

Top 14 - Round 21 Wrap

Montpellier 15-17 Racing Métro
After getting out to a good early lead Racing Métro almost let the game slip as the visitors failed to score any points at all in the secondhalf. Down 17-3 at the interval Montpellier fought back to lose by two and collect a bonus point but failed to score any tries. Racing Métro scored two but it could have been more. Argentine fullback Juan Martín Hernández intercepted a Montpellier pass and ran almost the length of the field before being tackled and off-loading. Hie would have been expected to have scored a few years ago. His Pumas colleague Juan Imhoff then went over for a disallowed try. Argentina backrower Alvaro Galindo also started the match for Racing Métro and like the Juan´s he played the full match. A fourth Puma features for the visitors with the Bath bound Juan Pablo Orlandi playing the secondhalf. Hernández faced Lucas González Amorosino who played the full match for Montpellier. Agustín Creevy also started, playing hooker and Maximilano Bustos joined him in the starting frontrow. A third Argentine frontrower got game time as the medical joker Nahuel Lobo and winger Martín Bustos Moyano who both came on as replacements.

Perpignan 20-18 Grenoble
A narrow victory for Perpignan increased the clubs chances of a return to the Top 14 play-off´s after having played poorly last season. Perpignan´s win over Grenoble came down to one kick as both sides scored two tries each and kicked two penalties. The difference was that Perpignan landed both its conversions while Grenoble missed one. 

Toulouse 33-32 Bordeaux
It is rare for a team to win against Toulouse in Toulouse but the relegation threatened Bordeaux-Begles very nearly did so. The twelfth placed club was winning the match 32-30 after Pumas flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez kicked a penalty in the 65th minute. Toulouse reclaimed the lead and held on for a nail-bitting victory. Bordeaux scored a bonus point for losing by less than seven points and another one for scoring four tries. Toulouse, in contrast scored only two tries and won by virtue of the boot of Lionel Beauxis. In collecting two points Bordeaux-Begles should now be safe as it still has a match against Mont de Marsan and is playing very well at the moment. Agen, are thus likely to join Mont de Marsan in being relegated to the Pro d2. Sánchez was joined by former Pumas winger Rafael Carballo who, like Sánchez, was on the bench. Argentina´s vice-captain Patricio Albacete started in the secondrow for the home side.

Paris 42-14 Mont de Marsan
A very good win for the Parisians is also great news for Argentine rugby fans as Felipe Contepomi made his return. Los Pumas´ Rugby World Cup 2011 captain had not played rugby since injurying his knee against Wales in Argentina´s first of three November internationals. The 35 year old Contepomi featured for Stade Français from the bench replacing former French international Jerome Porical. Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga started the match at inside centre. It was his second appearance only for the Parisians this season after he was injured playing in The Rugby Championship against the All Blacks and required shoulder surgery. Joining the two South Americans was USA international Scott LaValla who started in the backrow.

Agen 20-30 Bayonne
Two of the lower ranked sides battled it out in Agen earlier today. In a match in which neither team could afford to lose the home side edged closer to being relegated back to the Pro d2 after it failed to score a single competition point in losing by ten points against the visiting Bayonne. Former Argentine international secondrower Esteban Lozada was on the bench for Agen.

Toulon 50-15 Biarritz
While France was again unsuccessful in the Six Nations, Toulon impressed again and did so without the struggling Fredéric Michalak. Toulon scored six tries with former French international scrumhalf Sebastien Tillous-Bordes playing well and former England international Jonny Wilkinson also impressing at flyhalf. Michalak plays in either position for Toulon but the club has proven to play well with or without him. Biarritz is releasing Marcelo Bosch due to his involvement in The Rugby Championship and this has seen the club field other players instead of him. It has not worked as the club continues to struggle. Biarritz still had a Puma playing though with Francisco Gómez Kodela making his return to the side from injury to start at tighthead prop. USA international winger Taku Ngwenya also featured, starting on the right wing.

Clermont 37-10 Castres
Canadian enforcer Jamie Cudmore started for Clermont Auvergne in the secondrow and was yellow carded in the first half. He played against Uruguayan international Rodrigo Capó Ortega who started in Castres´ secondrow. Both Cudmore and Capó Ortega are expected to feautre in Rugby World Cup Qualification matches later on in 2013. Clermont´s win is good news for the likes of Montpellier, Perpignan and Grenoble who are all competing for places in the play-off´s.

Top 14 Standings
1 Toulon 76
2 Clermont 74
3 Toulouse 64
4 Racing Métro 58
5 Castres 58
6 Montpellier 55
7 Perpignan 55
8 Grenoble 48
9 Paris 46
10 Biarritz 43
11 Bayonne 43
12 Bordeaux 31
13 Agen 27
14 Mont de Marsan 15

* Top 14 Play-off´s and Heineken Cup Places
* Facing Relegation

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