Sunday, January 5, 2014

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 16 Wrap

Pato Albacete featured for Toulouse
Round sixteen of the Top 14 saw a number of interesting results and continued with the theme of home sides tending to win their matches. There were, nonetheless two visiting teams who did win their matches. The largest winning margin was twelve points as five of the matches were decided by a converted try or less. Teams both in contention for a place in the play-offs and facing relegation were involved in crucial matches. Players from Argentina, Uruguay and the USA were in action as the last IRB defiend region to be allocated a World Cup, the Americas, continues to produce players of note.
Castres 15-9 Bordeaux
The round began on Friday evening with the 2013 champions completing a difficult victory over the relegation threatened Bordeaux-Begles. The result seees Castres hold firmly onto third position while a bonus point for the visitors has Bordeaux-Begles now just two points behind Racing Métro. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega started in the second-row for the host side while Puma Nicolás Sánchez started for the visitors but was replaced early with an ear injury. He scored three points with a third minute penalty. 

Toulon 21-22 Grenoble
The 2013 Heineken Cup champions have not been playing to the same level as last season with injuries to key players, notably in the back-row having had a notable impact on the team´s performances. The club has nonetheless still been able to win most matches and was expected to do the same on Saturday against the mid-table Grenoble. It failed to eventuate however as the visiting side underlined why the Top 14 is the most competitive professional league in the world.

Biarritz 6-18 Paris
Atrocious weather conditions in Biarritz saw reliable goalkickers Dimitri Yachvilli and Julien Dupuy miss regulation kicks. But the Basque club was not concerned with the weather at all. Instead the team was focused on collecting competition points by winning the match. The club was unable to do so and is now sixteen points, or four victories, behind the twelfth placed side Oyonnax. Chances of avoiding relegation are therefore slim to nil. The Gonzalo Quesada coached Parisians, on the other hand, are enjoying their best season since 2008 and appear likely to be in the Semi Finals. Former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela started for Biarritz as did USA winger Taku Ngwenya while the Argentine-Italian Sergio Parisse started in the back-row as did USA Eagles forward Scott LaValla.

Oyonnax 6-0 Racing Métro
Oyonnax was rocked by the news that fly half Benjamín Urdapilleta had been ruled out of rugby for at least six weeks. The Argentine has been in strong form all season kicking the western French side the numerous home victories. With him missing and Racing Métro visiting the club was not in a position of confidence but it pulled off yet another upset at home to get itself out of the relegation zone. Pumas fullback Lucas González Amorosino started for Oyonnax as did former Argentine international scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola. Also involved was Juan Martín Hernández who was a replacement for the scoreless visitors.

Perpignan 20-8 Bayonne
Neither Perpignan nor Bayonne will be involved in the play-offs. So poor has the season been for both sides that they are now entirely focused on avoiding relegation. A long road remains ahead for both sides with Bayonne currently facing relgation on thirty points and Perpignan far from being safe on thirty-five. Martín Bustos Moyano and Santiago Fernández have been starting regularly for the club but both were on the bench for this clash.

Brive 15-9 Montpellier
Brive is, in theory, the team most likely to be relegated due to it having been promoted from the Pro d2 last season by winning the final after failing to finish in first position. But like the Pro d2 champions, Oyonnax, Brive is proving to be a worthy side in the Top 14. The team´s win over Montpellier sees the club got five points clear of the relegation zone. Montpellier collected a bonus point but dropped out of the top six. Argentina´s Maximilano Bustos came off the bench for French tighthead prop Nicolas Mas in the 50th minute. 

Toulouse 19-12 Clermont
The round came to a close on Sunday evening with the classic between Toulouse and Clermont Auvergne. Many players involved are likely to be starting for France next month in the Six Nations but the quality of rugby was lacking as Clermont failed to score a try and Toulouse´s only try came from a pass which had gone forward yet was awarded by the video referee. Puma Patricio Albacete played for Toulouse in the second-row.

1 Clermont 51
2 Paris 47
3 Castres 46
4 Toulouse 42
5 Toulon 42
6 Grenoble 41
7 Montpellier 40
8 Racing Métro 38
9 Bordeaux 36
10 Brive 35
11 Perpignan 35
12 Oyonnax 33
13 Bayonne 30
14 Biarritz 17

* Play-Offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

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