Sunday, May 5, 2013

Top 14 - Final Round Wrap


Adieu Dr. Felipe
Biarritz 52-17 Paris
A dead rubber in Basque country sees Biarritz end the season on a high. For the Parisians the match was there to be discarded due to the crucial up and coming Amlin Challenge Cup final in which Stade Français can qualify for the 2013-2014 Heineken Cup by winning. It is a tough ask against Leinster but the French side will have more to play for given that Leinster´s place in next season´s Heineken Cup is confirmed. The match at Biarritz saw two Pumas made their final appearances in a Top 14 encounter. Marcelo Bosch played at fullback for the home side while Felipe Contepomi played at flyhalf for the Parisians, making his final appearance as a professional. The pairing could very well recieve game time together in the Rugby Championship as as 12-13 combination. Contepomi will be available for the June tests against England and Georgia while Bosch will not due to him joining Saracens after the Rugby Championship while Contepomi will be begnining his post rugby career as a doctor in Buenos Aires. All playing were USA winger Taku Ngwenya who scored two tries for Biarritz and Argentine tighthead prop Francisco Gomez Kodela who was a replacement. Contepomi was joined by Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga who played fullback and future Puma Juan Cruz Guillemaín who started in the secondrow. The Welsh bound Argentine prop Francisco Nahuel Tetaz was on the Parisians bench.

Mont de Marsan 33-36 Bayonne
Another not so good season for Bayonne has come to a close with the Basque club again finishing well down the standings. It was at times threatened with relegation this season and had serious problems against, the bottom of the table, Mont de Marsan on Saturday. Next season Mont de Marsan will be back in the pro d2 while Bayonne will be looking to improve and will have the services of Argentina´s Martín Bustos Moyano who has transfered from Montpellier.

Montpellier 50-22 Perpignan
Montpellier had everything to play for as a bonus point win would mean the club would finish above Racing Métro in the standings and thus recieve the comparably easier barrage play-off match by taking on Castres rather than Toulouse. Montpellier succeeded and the hero was Argentina´s Martín Bustos Moyano who after three years said goodbye to the Montpellier supporters by scoring twenty-five points including two tries. He was joined in the starting lineup by Santiago Fernández who played inside centre, hooker Agustín Creevy and tighthead prop Maxmilano Bustos. All four players are likely to play for Argentina in 2013 as should Nahuel Lobo who was a replacement prop. 

Clermont Auvergne 67-3 Bordeaux-Begles
Clermont´s remarkable home record continues to grow and now stands at sixty straight home wins after the central French side smashed a Bordeaux side featuring players who usually get little to no game time. With the season saved and Bordeaux-Begles not having been relegated coach Raphael Ibañez was happy to rotate his players. Clermont also rotated some players due to the team being focused on the upcoming Heineken Cup final in which Dublin will see two French teams compete in the European final. Clermont should be the favorite and the clubs should also go into the Top 14 Semi Finals as the team to beat. 

Toulouse 57-7 Grenoble
Another dead rubber match was that of Toulouse v Grenoble as Toulouse was confirmed as being in the barrage play-off´s while Grenoble was confirmed as finishing outside of the top six but safe from relegation. It was a number of noticable players for both sides miss out on playing. Toulouse´s superiority was clear and with the club hosting a barrage match and not competing in the Heineken Cup Final the reigining French champions are well placed. Argentina´s Joaquín Tuculet played fullback for Grenoble and could very well play in either that position or at outside centre against England next month. 

Toulon 43-21 Agen
The final match of Agen in the Top 14 was not the best but the side had nothing to play for. The club´s latest relegation to the Pro d2 should be very worrying given that it is becoming increasingly harder to win promotion to the Top 14 as the case of Lyon OU this season illustrates. Lyon has failed to make the top five of the French second division while Oyonnax could be joined by a former Top 14 side next season as Brive, La Rochelle and Pau are all competing in the Semi Finals. Three Pumas featured for Agen with Belisario Agulla playing on the wing and Esteban Lozada in the second row. Miguel Avramovic was also involved in the match as a replacement. All thrree are to leave Agen with Avramovic linked to Stade Français and the other two rumored to be in talks with rival French clubs. All three should be in consideration for a place against England and / or Georgia next month. 

Racing Métro 29-28 Castres
Considering the possibility of winning and going ahead of Montpellier, should Montpellier not do so well, it was surprizing to see the non-selection of a number of Racing Métro players such as Juan Imhoff. The Pumas winger was one of a number of players rested for Saturday´s match. Indeed, if Castres had not won a bonus point for losing by less than seven points then there could have been some changes in the final positions of the teams that finished 4th-6th. The only starting Puma for Racing Métro was Juan Martín Hernández who continued at fullback but it did not take long for Manuel Carizza to come on from the bench. The Pumas secondrower entered the match in just the 22nd minute which saw him playing opposite Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega who started in the secondrow for Castres. Argentine backrower Alvaro Galindo was on the bench for Racing Métro. He may well start in the backrow for Argentina in June due to him seemingly having been overtaken by the likes of Leonardo Senatore, Tomás Leonardí and Tomás De La Vega in 2012.  


Top 14 Standings
1 Clermont 91
2 Toulon 90
3 Toulouse 79
4 Castres 74
5 Montpellier 73
6 Racing Métro 73
7 Perpignan 61
8 Biarritz 57
9 Bayonne 57
10 Paris 54
11 Grenoble 54
12 Bordeaux 47
13 Agen 31
14 Mont de Marsan 16

* Qualified for Play-off´s and Heineken Cup 
* Relegated to Pro d2


Toulon v Agen

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