Saturday, February 15, 2014

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 19 Wrap

Photo Rugby Rama

Round nineteen of the French championship, the Top 14, was played on Friday and Saturday and continued with the unpredictability that has occurred throughout the season. The top two clubs entering the round both lost against sides considered to be vastly inferior in the mainstream media. The pattern of home clubs winning matches continues as all but bottom of the table Biarritz won at home. The Basque club is increasingly set for a future in the Pro d2 and will be in for a battle as players are set to move on should the club be relegated. 

Grenoble 16-13 Clermont
Top of the table Clermont Auvergne was expected to have no significant problems in overcoming Grenoble on Friday evening but not for the first time this season Grenoble proved to be competitive in defeating a fancied opponent. Despite losing Clermont retain top position due to Stade Français being defeated by Brive on Saturday. Involved for Clermont was Canadian veteran Jamie Cudmore who played 80 minutes of rugby in the second-row.

Toulon 19-13 Castres
In a replay of last seasons Final Toulon overcame the current champions to move to without four points of Clermont. Two South American players entered the match in the 49th minute. Uruguay´s Rodrigo Capó Ortega replaced Scottish international second-rower Richie Gray while the Argentine-Italian veteran tighthead prop Martín Castrogiovanni entered for Toulon. 

Biarritz 6-16 Toulouse
Heineken Cup contenders Toulouse won for the first time this season on the road in the Top 14. The ten point win against bottom of the table Biarritz sees the Basque club´s probable relegation only become likely. The former multiple time Heineken Cup finalists are now facing the reality of playing in the second division as the Top 14 increasingly becomes a competition featuring clubs from larger cities and clubs from outside of the south-west. Involved in the fixture was Argentina´s Francisco Goméz Kodela and USA winger Taku Ngwenya. Both featured for Biarritz. 

Oyonnax v Bordeaux
The relegation threatened Oyonnax had a good opportunity to move up the standings as it had a hoem fixture against Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday. But the elements disagreed as the match had to be postponed leaving the thirteenth placed side now having played two mathes less than Bayonne and Perpignan whom are four points ahead on the table. 

Montpellier 50-19 Perpignan
The local derby has, until recently, been a one-sided affair with Perpignan having been too strong for Montpellier until the arrival of Martín Bustos Moyano in 2010. The former Puma was an important part of the club´s 2010-2011 season in which the club reached the Top 14 final. Prior to then Montpellier had long been a mid-lower table side whilst Perpignan had been champions in 2009. This season, though, Perpignan is in grave danger of relegation. Puma Maximilano Bustos played tighthead prop for Montpellier. 

Racing Métro 18-8 Bayonne
A home win for Racing Métro saw the club remain in touch with the top six while for Bayonne it meant the club coninues to only sit above Oyonnax due to postponed fixtures. Involved for Bayonne were two Argentine players with both Martín Bustos Moyano and Santiago Fernández coming off the bench and Fernández scoring a try. 

Brive 28-12 Paris
Before the season had begun Brive was a club expected by many to be relegated this season. Brive lacks a quality playing roster but has been fortunate to not have been overly effected by injuries. After defeating the Parisians at home Brive is in ninth position while Stade Français has been overtaken by Montpellier. USA international Scott LaValla started for Stade Français Paris while Argentina´s Benjamín Macome played thirty minutes as a second half replacement.

1 Clermont 55
2 Montpellier 53 
3 Paris 52
4 Toulon 51
5 Castres 51
6 Grenoble 49
7 Toulouse 49
8 Racing Métro 48
9 Brive 45
10 Bordeaux 42
11 Perpignan 38
12 Bayonne 38
13 Oyonnax 34
14 Biarritz 17

* Play-offs Zone
* Relegation Zone

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