Saturday, October 5, 2013

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round Nine Wrap

Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga returned for Paris in round nine
Further evidence that the current Top 14 season is the most competitive of all time was seen in round nine as a number of upsets occured. So close is the competition that the only side not in sight of the play-offs after nine rounds is that at the foot of the table. The other clubs are all within two wins of the sixth places side. 

Biarritz 12-16 Perpignan
One team in serious danger of being relegated is Biarritz. The former French powerhouses remain bottom of the table and yet to find its grove. While the team should be able to string some wins together at some point in time it cannot wait too long as there is a huge gap between 12th and 14th position meaning the threat of relegation cannot be ignored. Biarritz was unable to score a try as it lost against Perpignan on Friday. It fielded a team including a Puma and an Eagle. Francisco Goméz Kodela started at tighthead prop while Taku Ngwenya played on the right wing.

Brive 34-0 Castres
Last seasons second best side from the Pro d2 thumped the Top 14 champions in one of six matches on Saturday. The 34-0 victory confirmed Brive as a team not to be taken lightly even though it is back from the second division. Neither side fielded players from the Americas but Castres appears set to confirm the arrival of Santiago Fernández shortly. The Pumas inside centre confirmed that he had signed a pre-contract with Castres before returning to Argentina ahead of the 2013 Rugby Championship. 

Bordeaux 34-6 Bayonne
Biarritz´s Basque neighbor, Bayonne is another side in trouble. The club´s loss against Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday sees the club remain in 13th position. Having held a 6-0 lead thanks to two penalties from Martín Bustos Moyano Bayonne was then unable to score again. Bustos Moyano played the match at fullback.

Toulon 25-19 Clermont
Toulon moved up in the standings to go top of the table after defeated Clermont-Auvegne at home on Saturday. The match saw both teams scoring one try each and Clermont have problems with the referee as two players were yellow carded. The Argentine-Italian Martín Castrogiovanni was on the bench for Toulon in this match. Delon Armitage took the opportunity to end any issues between himslef and Brock James following last seasons Heineken Cup final

Montpellier 45-20 Oyonnax
The traditional hot-bed of French rugby the south-west is dominating the relegated threatened sides. So much so that five of the bottom six are all from the region. The one from elsewhere is Oyonnax which has been very strong at home but not so much on the road. The western French side was beaten badly by Montpellier who scored a bonus point win on Saturday. Maximilano Bustos was on the bench covering tighthead prop for Montpellier and Agustín Figuerola was the reserve scrum-half for Oyonnax. Also playing for the visitors but in the starting lineup was Benjamín Urdapilleta who kicked three goals.

Racing Métro 20-22 Grenoble
A result that should have never have occured did on Saturday as the high spending Racing Métro was defeated at home by Grenoble. The club has struggled to play to its stereo-typical levels with Irish international fly half Jonny Sexton having been a major underperformer so far. Juan Martín Hernández and Juan Imhoff will be back from international duty to help the club.

Toulouse 28-10 Paris
A bonus point home win for Toulouse sees the club´s up and down season continue. The club has had some good wins and some shocking losses but can now concentrate on its opening Heineken Cup match against Zebre this coming Friday. Stade Français Paris will not play in the Heineken Cup and will instead be a contender for the Amlin Challenge Cup. The club welcomed back Martín Rodríguez Gurruchaga from international duty. He was in the Pumas squad but did not make the team at all in the 2013 Rugby Championship. He started at fullback for Paris while USA Eagle Scott LaValla started in the back-row. The Parisans are coached by Gonzalo Quesada who played for Argentina in two Rugby World Cups and could be a future Pumas coach.

1 Toulon 27
2 Montpellier 27
3 Paris 26
4 Clermont 25
5 Perpignan 24
6 Grenoble 23
7 Toulouse 22
8 Racing Métro 22
9 Brive 22
10 Bordeaux 21
11 Castres 20
12 Oyonnax 17
13 Bayonne 16
14 Biarritz 8

* Play-Offs Zone
* Relegation Zone
Biarritz v Perpignan

Brive v Castres

Bordeaux v Bayonne

Toulon v Clermont

Montpellier v Oyonnax

Racing Métro v Grenoble

Toulouse v Paris

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