Sunday, December 1, 2013

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 13 Wrap

Photo Rugby Wrap Up: Argentine Fly half Benjamín Urdapilleta impressed for Oyonnax
With the Top 14 season now officially having reached the midway mark in terms of rounds it is time to begin making predictions about how the remainder of the season will unfold and who are the contenders for the title and for relegation. The clubs presently with thirty or more competition points appear to be those in contention for a place in the play-offs which means there are ten teams with the remaining four looking like being those out to avoid relegation. Basque clubs Bayonne and Biarritz find themselves at the bottom now with Biarritz being two wins behind the the 12th placed Oyonnax. Brive is the other team outside of the top ten and could well drop further given its squad lacks the same depth as those lower down.

Perpignan 23-30 Clermont
The round began on Friday evening with Perpignan hosting Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Amié Giral. With players back from international duty the home side was expected to win but, instead, the visitors from central France completed a late victory which sees the club move to top of the table. Canadian veteran second-rower Jamie Cudmore came off the bench in the 48th minute for Clermont.

Paris 23-0 Toulon
Reigning Heineken Cup Champions Toulon have had a season lacking consistency and this continued on Saturday as Stade Français kept Toulon pointless in the French capital. The Gonzalo Quesada coached team included Argentine-Italian Sergion Parisse in the starting lineup while USA Eagles star Scott LaValla was on the bench. Toulon also had an Argentine player capped more than 100 times for Italy as Martín Castrogiovanni was on the bench.

Biarritz 15-22 Bordeaux
Heading into round thirteen the Biarritz v Bordeaux-Begles clash was one of vital importance for relegation. Biarritz was favorite due to the club hosting the fixture and Bordeaux not having its best possible lineup starting. Bordeaux was, nonetheless, much mroe organized and came out on top by scoring three tries to two. One of the two Biarritz tries was scored by USA winger Taku Ngwenya who was joined in the starting lineup by former Pumas tighthead prop Francisco Goméz Kodela. None of Bordeaux´s three Pumas were involved.

Castres 46-16 Bayonne
At home Castres Olympique has been very strong but on the road the 2013 Top 14 Championship winning club has been far less impressive. Saturday´s home fixture against struggling Bayonne offered the club a chance at playing some attacking rugby and the team did just this by scoring five second half tries. The scores had been 13-6 at the interval before Castres turned the match on its head. Starting for Castres was Uruguayan Rodrigo Capó Ortega who again started in the second-row. Bayonne had two Pumas on the field and both of whom also started.Santiago Fernández played at fly half while the goalkicking Martín Bustos Moyano played on the right wing and scored eleven points.´

Oyonnax 26-9 Brive
Another Argentine goalkicker was in action in the Top 14 on Saturday but he was involved in seeing his club complete a very significant victory. With Oyonnax and Brive being the two promoted teams from the last seasons Pro d2 and neither side having a high budget both clubs are thought of as being a high chance for relegation. Both have players whom have played Top 14 rugby previously for other clubs while Oyonnax´s player of the season thus far has clearly been Benjamín Urdapilleta. The Argentine international remains out of the frame for international duty but has been seeing Oyonnax to one home victory after another and against teams including Toulon and Clermont. It is likely that Oyonnax will soon be above Brive and Urdapilleta may well make the June squad again. Urdapilleta scored twenty-one points on Saturday and was joined by Agustín Figuerola who played scrumhalf and Lucas González Amorosino at fullback.

Racing Métro 17-22 Montpellier
A home loss for Racing Métro sees the Greater Paris side fall to sit just one point ahead of Bordeaux-Begles. Such has been the sides performances this season that the club will need to improve significantly or it will very shortly be within reach of the relegation zone. Two Pumas were involved in the match itself with Juan Imhoff starting on the left wing for Racing Métro and Maximilano Bustos coming on as a replacement at tighthead prop for Montpellier.

Grenoble 25-18 Toulouse
Another team lacking consistency this season is Toulouse. The French giants have dropped matches which the club would be expected to win by big margins and this repeated itself on Saturday evening as Grenoble completed a seven point victory at the city´s largest stadium, the Stade des Alpes. A number of Toulouse regular first choice players were not involved with one of them being Patricio Albacete.

1 Clermont 40
2 Toulouse 36
3 Castres 36
4 Toulon 36
5 Paris 35
6 Montpellier 34
7 Grenoble 33
8 Racing Métro 31
9 Bordeaux 30
10 Perpignan 30
11 Brive 28
12 Oyonnax 25
13 Bayonne 25
14 Biarritz 17

* Play-offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

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