Saturday, February 8, 2014

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 18 Wrap

Photo L´Express
Hernández impressed on Saturday
The leading French international players were not able to play for their respective clubs this weekend due to the Six Nations championship test match against Italy. It left some clubs shorthanded and, in some instances, clubs were also missing players taking to the field for Italy, Ireland, Scotland and Wales. There were, nonetheless, a host of notable players in action involving players from North and South America. With the IRB having a record of allocating every second Rugby World Cup to Europe the ever increasing exposure of elite players from the Americas in top level professional competitions underlines the possibilities of an expanding market in both North and South America. 



Bordeaux 38-17 Grenoble
The fight to avoid relegation is a season-long struggle for a number of teams. Both Bordeaux-Begles and Grenoble were playing Pro d2 rugby until recently but have been able to establish themselves as m id-table sides in the Top 14. Both clubs have been threatened with relegation at times but appear likely to survive the drop. Bordeaux´s bonus point win edges the club to within touch of the play-offs places and two wins above the relegation zone. None of the club´s three Pumas featured this weekend. 

Clermont 25-13 Paris
The top of the table clash on Saturday afternoon in central France saw Clermont Auvergne win yet again at home and to overtake the Parisians to claim top position in the standings. Involved in the match were three players from the Americas. Canadian enforcer Jamie Cudmore started in the Clermont second-row and USA utility forward Scott LaValla started at blindside flanker for the visitors. Also featuring for Stade Français was Argentine international back-rower Benjamín Macome who was a replacement.

Castres 17-16 Oyonnax
The 2013 champions had a rough time at home against the relegation threatened Oyonnax. Castres was expected to maintain its strong home record while Oyonnax was not thought of as possible as picking up its first away win of the season against the current champions. But with both teams scoring one try Oyonnax very nearly got itself out of the relegation zone. Oyonnax is now for points behind Perpignan and Bayonne and a further two behind Brive. Involved for Oyonnax was Puma Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino who played fullback while former Puma Agustín Figuerola was a replacement scrumhalf. Benjamín Urdapilleta is expected to reurn from injury shortly.

Bayonne 9-6 Brive
A mandatory home win for Bayonne against a team who could also be relegated sees Bayonne give itself some breathing distance for the time being. With Biarritz facing near certain relegation Basque rugby would be without reputation in the Top 14 next season were Bayonne to fail. The club faces a difficult final eight rounds but has a workable fixture schedule. Starting for Bayonne was Santiago Fernández at flyhalf and Martín Bustos Moyano on the right wing. Bustos Moyano kicked two penalties in the win. 

Perpignan 19-19 Racing Métro
A draw in Perpignan sees the 2009 French champions falling further down the standings to now, remarkably, be faced with the realistic possibility of relegation. Perpignan is now tied with Bayonne and cannot afford to drop future home matches or it could be joining Biarritz in the red zone. Los Pumas fullback Juan Martín Hernández kicked fourteen points for Racing Métro playing at fly half while Juan Imhoff also started. Racing Métro are now just one point outside of the play-offs zone. 

Toulon 33-20 Biarritz
A strong start for Biarritz had the bottom of the table side looking like completing an upset victory but it did not eventuate as Toulon finished strongly to complete a bonus point victory. Biarritz now has a four victory handy cap to conquer if it is to retain its status as a Top 14 team beyond this season. Starting for Biarritz was USA winger Taku Ngwenya while the Bordeaux-Begles bound tighthead prop Francisco Goméz Kodela was on the bench.

Toulouse 12-15 Montpellier
The future of Guy Noves at Toulouse is not likely as the long time serving headcoach has been far from happy with the performance of Toulouse throughout the Top 14 competition this season. The powerhouse team has not won an away Top 14 match all season and has now lost at home against a team which many feel is not of the same calibre, Montpellier. Second choice tighthead Pumas prop Maximilano Bustos started in the position for Montpellier while reserve Pumas loosehead prop Nahuel Lobo was on the Montpellier bench. Starting for Toulouse was second-rower Patricio Albacete who was one of three Toulouse players injured in the match.

Standings
1 Clermont 54
2 Paris 52
3 Castres 50
4 Montpellier 48
5 Toulon 47
6 Grenoble 45
7 Toulouse 45
8 Racing Métro 44
9 Bordeaux 42
10 Brive 40
11 Perpignan 38
12 Bayonne 38
13 Oyonnax 34
14 Biarritz 17

* Play-offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

Both Oyonnax and Biarritz have a game in hand

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