Sunday, December 22, 2013

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 14 Wrap

Photo Rugby Rama: Benjamín Urdapilleta again kicked Oyonnax to victory
The fourteenth round of the Top 14 continued with the unpredictability that has seen the current season being the most competitive of all time. With twelve rounds remaining any team except bottom of the table Biarritz can be said to having a realistic chance of making the final six. The round featured a number of players from the Americas in action as the last region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup continues to put key players on the fields in France.

Paris 21-6 Grenoble
The round began in Paris on Friday evening in cold conditions with Stade Français completing another win at the new Stade Jean Bouin. Argentina´s Italian captain Sergio Parisse won man of the match. The Parisian team is also coached by former Puma Gonzalo Quesada who played at two Rugby World Cups.

Toulon 43-10 Montpellier
An impressive performance from Toulon sees the 2013 Heineken Cup champions improve its position in the standings. Montpellier was well outplayed for much of the match with the scrum being a serious issue. It did improve when French international Nicolas Mas was replaced by third choice Pumas tighthead prop Maximilano Bustos. Having started in November Bustos will be in contention for a place in the 2014 Rugby Championship.

Brive 9-9 Racing Métro
On paper a draw for Brive against Racing Métro is like a victory for the hosts and humiliation for Racing Métro. But such has been the season of both sides that Brive will be unhappy with the result while for Racing Métro it is yet another underwhelming outcome. The Racing Métro team was not at full strength but still had significantly better players than Brive. Argentina´s Juan Martín Hernández was a second half replacement coming on in the 58th minute.

Castres 37-13 Perpignan
The 2013 champions are now in second place after an impressive demolition performance over 2009 champions Perpignan on Saturday. Starting for the home side was Uruguayan veteran Rodrigo Capó Ortega who played in the second-row. The 33 year old is expected to return for Uruguay for the first time since 2009 when Los Teros face the USA home and away in March with the winner on aggregate qualifying for Rugby World Cup 2015 as Americas 2. 

Clermont 35-6 Biarritz
Clermont Auvergne extended its undefeated run at the Stade Marcel Michelin to a staggering sixty-nine consecutive victories on Saturday. The central French side appears to have a realistic chance of extending its home record until the end of the 2013-2014 season. In the Heineken Cup the club has won its last seventeen matches at home. This weekends victims, Biarritz, again failed to collect any bonus points as the Basque club now lies three wins behind the Oyonnax in 12th position as relegation beacons. USA international Taku Ngwenya played on the right wing for Biarritz while former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela played tighthead prop.

Oyonnax 9-6 Bayonne
When the sides met in the opening round of the Top 14 Bayonne was far too strong. The 39-10 result was dominated by Martín Bustos Moyano who debuted for Bayonne by scoring nineteen points. The result sent a message to Oyonnax of what to expect in the Top 14 and, indeed, so far Oyonnax is yet to win an away match. At home, however, it is a different story as the eastern French club has amassed some important victories. This continued this weekend with a narrow win to go three points clear of the relegation zone. While no tries were scored all points in the match were scored by Argentine players with Bustos Moyano kicking two penalties and Benjamín Urdapilleta three. Neither of the two were selected for the Rugby Championship and neither was Agustín Figuerola who played scrumhalf in a 9-10 combination with Urdapilleta. Joining them in the starting lineup was another Puma as Lucas González Amorosino played fullback. Opposite Urdapilleta was Santiago Fernández who, despite being a medical joker, is being selected ahead of New Zealander Stephan Brett.

Toulouse 18-16 Bordeaux
Similar to Racing Métro and Perpignan the current season has not been the best for Toulouse. But unlike the other two Toulouse is in a healthy position in the standings, for the time being. The battle of the two largest cities in South-Western France was close with the home side sneaking in a two point victory ahead Bordeax had held the lead. Bordeaux-Begles has been in dangern of relegation since returning from the pro d2 while Toulouse is lacking the organization and execution that it is famous for. Nicolás Sánchez was on the bench for Bordeaux.

Top 14 Standings
1 Clermont 45
2 Toulon 41
3  Castres 41
4 Toulouse 40
5 Paris 39
6 Montpellier 34
7 Grenoble 33
8 Racing Métro 33
9 Bordeaux 31
10 Brive 30
11 Perpignan 30
12 Oyonnax 29
13 Bayonne 26
14 Biarritz 17

* Play-offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

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