Saturday, January 25, 2014

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 17 Wrap

Photo Mundod lavoz
Puma Martín Bustos Moyano kicked
Bayonne to victory over Clermont
Round seventeen of the Top 14 has come to a close and with it the unpredictablity of the competition continues. Predicting who will likely be playing in the play-offs continues to be far from clear while, similarly, the battle to avoid relegation continues with multiple changes in the standings. Not for the first time this season all home teams won their matches. As in earlier rounds there were players from North and South America in action as the last IRB defined region to be alocated a Rugby World Cup continues to contribute quality players to French rugby.

Paris 32-6 Castres
The round began on Friday evening with one match in the French capital. It was a battle between second and third but the home side was far too good in badly defeating the current French champions. The Gonzalo Quesada coached side now leads the Top 14 after Clermont Auvergne was outplayed by a desparate Bayonne the following afternoon. USA international Scott LaValla started in the Parisian back-row as did ther Argentine-Italian Sergio Parisse. Castres´ veteran Uruguayan Rodrigo Capó Ortega started in the second-row.

Racing Métro 25-5 Toulouse
An important win for Racing Métro over Toulouse at the Stade de France on Saturday continues the lottery that is the Top 14 standings. The form of the home side this season has not been good in either the Heineken Cup or Top 14 but the club still has a realistic shot at appearing in the Top 14 play-offs in Lille. The match featured two Pumas with Juan Imhoff setting up Racing Métro´s third and final try. Patricio Albacete set up the second by throwing the intercept pass in the lead up to Mike Phillips´ try. Albacete started in the second-row for a team missing many players to international duty.

Bayonne 18-9 Clermont
Bayonne is out of the relegation zone now after the Basque side defeated Heineken Cup vice-champions Clermont Auvergne on Saturday. Five penalties from former Puma Martín Bustos Moyano saw Bayonne complete a crucial victory. Bustos Moyano was joined in the starting lineup by the player likely to be starting at inside centre for Argentina in 2014 - Santiago Fernández. The former Hindú back again played fly half ahead of New Zealander Stephen Brett.

Biarritz v Oyonnax
With Bayonne winning Oyonnax is now in the relegation zone once again. The club was unable to face bottom of the table Biarritz on Saturday due to heavy rain making the field unplayable. The fixture will be rescheduled with a decision set to be made early next week. For Oyonnax it will enable Benjamín Urdapilleta´s return to likely occur in time for the fixture.

Grenoble 25-19 Perpignan
The atrocious season continues fo Perpignan as the current side is a shadow of the one that became French champions in 2009. Perpignan was riding a wave of popularity that saw it pack Barcelona for a Heineken Cup Quarter Final against Toulon. Perpignan is now on the ferge of entering the relegation zone. The overperforming Grenoble now occupy fourth position.

Montpellier 28-23 Bordeaux
A match featuring two of the best French fly halves was on offer on Saturday. François Trinh-Duc has not been utilizd greatly under Phillipe Saint-André but his form has seen him recalled for the injured Remy Tales. Trinh-Duc faced Pierre Bernard who has been consistant for the club this season. Bernard played fly half meaning Puma Nicolás Sánchez missed out. Also missing was the injured Joaquín Tuculet. Maximilano Bustos started at tighthead prop for Montpellier.

Brive 23-10 Toulon
Like many other sides Toulon suffered from missing players this weekend. Brive had control of the match in the first half as it lead 20-3 after forty minutes and despite only managing one second half penalty the side was able to complete a vital win to move firther away from the relegation zone. Toulon´s only try came in the 77th minute.

1 Paris 52
2 Clermont 50
3 Castres 46 
4 Grenoble 45
5 Montpellier 44
6 Toulouse 44
7 Toulon 42
8 Racing Métro 42
9 Brive 39
10 Bordeaux 37
11 Perpignan 36
12 Bayonne 34
13 Oyonnax 33
14 Biarritz 17

* Play-Offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

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