Sunday, August 25, 2013

Top 14 Pumas Abroad - Round Two Wrap

Photo: Rugby Rama Benjamín Urdapilleta impressed for Oyonnax
Early indications are that the 2013-2014 Top 14 is going to be very hard to predict. After two rounds there are no clear dominant sides nor are there sides emerging that look set to spend the season avoiding relegation. Such has been the early season competitiveness that no side has one every match nor has any side lost both. Like in round one there were a number of shocks in round two and there were also Argentine players in action.

Toulon 41-14 Racing Métro
The round kicked-off on Friday evening with a match in Toulon. What would in most cases be an evenly disputed contest was instead a one-way street with Toulon over powering the northern visitors. Both clubs were missing Pumas who were injured rather than playing against South Africa in Mendoza. Bryan Habana, of Toulon, did play though. Argentine-Italian Martín Castrogiovanni was on the bench for Toulon.

Oyonnax 30-19 Clermont
A derby of sorts in eastern France was nothing shot of being David v Goliath. Powerhouses Clermont Auvergne faced Oyonnax in an away fixture which was the first ever home Top 14 match for last seasons Pro d2 champions. As in the 2012-2013 season Argentine Benjamín Urdapilleta was at flyhalf for Oyonnax. Playing against Brock James the unwanted Puma kicked 15 points and was joined by former Pumas scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola in a 9-10 combination. Should both recieve regular game time and the side be able to produce more good results then there is every chance of either or both players representing Argentina in November.

Biarritz 19-12 Montpellier
Two other Argentine players unwanted for the Rugby Championship were starters not long after the completion of Oyonnax´s phenomenal victory. Francisco Goméz Kodela and Maximilano Bustos were the starting tighthead props for Biarritz and Montpellier. Both have been in Pumas squads under Phelan but neither were deemed to be in the top three Argentine tighthead props at the time of naming a thirty man squad. They are behind Juan Figallo, Matías Díaz and Juan Pablo Orlandi. 

Castres 34-6 Grenoble
having failed to find form in its opening round fixture the 2012-2013 champions Castres hit back with a thunderous home win in round two. The bonus point victory over Grenoble featured Uruguayan forward Rodrigo Capó Ortega. He played secondrow for Castres and remains a possibility to feature in the North America v South America play-off for Rugby World Cup 2015 in march. 

Perpignan 27-28 Paris
A late dropgoal saw Stade Français sneak in an important away victory, and a rare one in Perpignan. It sees the teams tied together with Brive, Biarritz and Bayonne on five competition points. Starting for the Parisians was the Argentine-Italian Sergio Parisse who played at the back of the scrum. 

Toulouse 40-3 Bayonne
Having been humiliated by Bordeaux in the opening round Toulouse responded with a strong win over Bayonne on Saturday. The bonus point win sees Toulouse sit in second place, one point behind Toulon. The only points scored by Bayonne came from the boot of Martín Bustos Moyano. The goal-kicking winger landed a first half penalty for the visitors.

Brive 25-12 Bordeaux
Any side that defeats Toulouse means business while any team that is in the Top 14 after winnind promotion is expected to struggle. Neither stereotype was correct on Saturday though as Brive kept Bordeaux tryless in completing a thirteen point home victory. On the park for Bordeaux was former Pumas winger Rafael Carballo who last played a test match in 2010. 

Top 14 Standings
1 Toulon 7
2 Toulouse 6
3 Castres 6
4 Brive 5
5 Biarritz 5
6 Perpignan 5
7 Paris 5
8  Bayonne 5
9 Clermont 4
10 Bordeaux 4
11 Oyonnax 4
12 Racing Métro 4
13 Grenoble 4
14 Montpellier 3

* Play-Off´s Zone
* Relegation Zone

Toulon v Racing Métro 

Oyonnax v Clermont

Biarritz v Montpellier

Castres v Grenoble

Perpignan v Paris

Toulouse v Bayonne

Brive v Bordeaux

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