Sunday, December 29, 2013

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 15 Wrap

Photo AB: Santiago Fernández directed the traffic at fly half against Toulouse
Round 15 of the French national rugby competition, the Top 14 was played entirely on Sunday as the LNR and clubs looked to give their players the chance to celebrate christmas with their families. 

Paris 19-12 Perpignan
The capital city side is looking like play-offs material for the first time in five years. Stade Français has not had a lot of success since winning the Top 14 in 2007 but with former Puma Gonzalo Quesada having arrived this season the club is proving to be vastly improved and currently sits in second position behind 2010 champions Clermont Auvergne. The Parisians home win over 2009 champions Perpignan at the Stade Jean Bouin featured Italy´s Argentine captain Sergio Parisse who was a starting back-rower and USA international Scott LaValla who played the second half.

Clermont 33-19 Oyonnax
The phenomenal home record of Clermont Auvergne continues as the central French side has now won seventy home matches in a row. Today´s victory sees the club hold on to first position and look like being a certain team to feature in the play-offs. Starting for Clermont was Canadian Jamie Cudmore who played in the second-row. Oyonnax started two Argentine players with former international scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola and current outside back Lucas González Amorosino being joined by former Argentine fly half Benjamín Urdapilleta in the second half. The loss for Oyonnax sees the western French side return to the relegation zone. 

Bordeaux 27-23 Brive
A vital match for the relegation picture saw Bordeaux-Begles hosting Brive at the Stade Chaban-Delmas which hosted four matches at Rugby World Cup 2007. The Bordeaux-Begles club was in the second division during the World Cup and for quite some time both before and after. Brive had been a mid-table side in the Top 14 only to be relegated in the 2010-2011 season. The two sides have had similar seasons and both need as many points as possible to retain their places for the 2014-2015 season. Los Pumas fly half Nicolás Sánchez was on the bench for the fixture.

Grenoble 20-16 Castres
Home teams have proven to have a substantial advantage over the visitors throughout the current season and this was again clear in Grenoble as the 2012 Pro d2 champions defeated the 2013 Top 14 champions to stay in touch with the sides currently inline for play-offs qualification. Uruguayan Rodrigo Capó Ortega started in the second-row for Castres. The match was played at the largest stadium in Grenoble - the Stade des Alpes. 

Montpellier 48-22 Biarritz
An ideal outcome for Montpellier occurred against bottom of the table Biarritz as the home side completed a bonus point victory in scoring six tries to three. With the higher ranked Casters, Toulon and Toulouse all losing Montpellier is less than one victory behind all of them. Only Clermont is presently out of Montpellier´s reach. Argentina front-rower Maximilano Bustos was a 50th minute replacement for the winners while USA winger Taku Ngwenya started and was a try scorer for Biarritz who are now thirteen points behind the 12th placed Bayonne.

Bayonne 21-13 Toulouse
Bayonne´s impressive home performance sees the Basque side continue its up and down season. The club is out of the relegation zone again but far from being safe. The visiting giants of Toulouse again failed on the road as the club is remarkably yet to win an away fixture in the Top 14 this season. Santiago Fernández was the starting fly half for Bayonne while Martín Bustos Moyano started on the wing and kicked a penalty. Also involved was Patricio Albacete who played in the second-row for Toulouse.

Racing Métro 14-3 Toulon
The final match of the round was, like the six others, a win for the home team. In defeating Toulon Racing Métro stay in touch with the play-offs teams and are tied with Grenoble for a share of seventh position. The team, though, is far from producing quality rugby as the star-studded side continues to underperform this season. Argentina´s Juan Martín Hernández was on the bench for Racing Métro.

1 Clermont 49
2 Paris 43
3 Castres 42
4 Toulon 41
5 Toulouse 40
6 Montpellier 39
7 Grenoble 37 
8 Racing Métro 37
9 Bordeaux 35
10 Brive 31
11 Perpignan 31
12 Bayonne 30
13 Oyonnax 29
14 Biarritz 17

* Play-Offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

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