Sunday, February 23, 2014

Top 14 Americas Exports - Round 20 Wrap

Benjamín Macome earned his first
start in a Top 14 match
With six rounds remaining the Top 14 remains highly competitive with there being no shortage of clubs that can, on one hand, make the play-offs or on the other be relegated. Round twenty featured twenty-seven tries, the second highest number recorded in a round this season. In action were players from the Americas with Argentina, Canada, Uruguay and the USA all represented. The same region, defined by the IRB as the Americas, is the only one yet to be allocated a Rugby World Cup. 50% of all tournaments have been allocated to Europe with the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland landing matches every time. Argentina 2023 represents an opportunitity to put an end to this as Argentina looms as a irrefutable option as the country has a proud rugby tradition, professionalism, appropriate facilities and notable players who have been involved in the biggest leagues, such as the Top 14, and impressing.

Clermont 42-16 Montpellier
With Clermont Auvergne missing a large number of players to international duty Friday evening´s match was a unique opportunity for Montpellier to end the winning streak of Clermont at the Stade Marcel Michelin. Clermont nhas not lost a home match since being defeated by Biarritz in November 2009. French scrumhalf Morgan Parra was red carded in the first half but Montpellier also had problems in losing players to yellow cards. Without Parra Clermont was still able to win big and obtain the complete five competition points. Canadian veteran Jamie Cudmore started the match in the second-row for Clermont. Puma Nahuel Lobo was on the Montpellier bench covering loosehead prop.

Bordeaux-Begles 25-9 Racing Métro
Bordeaux-Begles moved up the standings with a big home victory ver Racing Métro on Saturday. The visiting side was missing players to international duty and the home side was able to exploit this to its advantage. Starting for Racing Métro was Puma Juan Imhoff while Pumas fly half Nicolás Sánchez came off the bench for Bordeaux. Both players are examples of Pumas in Europe who are likely to be approached by the UAR for places in Los Pampas for the 2016 Suepr Rugby season.

Perpignan 12-6 Brive
The current Top 14 season has been the worst for Perpignan in sa very long time. The 2009 French Champions have struggled and have also been complicated by virtue of players being involved in international action. This weekend´s fixture against Brive was without three flyhalves due to Camille Lopez being injured, James Hooker involved for Wales and Tommaso Allan featuring for Italy. The narrow win eased relegation fears for Perpignan but with six rounds remaining neither Perrignan nor Brive are safe.  

Grenoble 20-22 Biarritz
The most important result of the round occured in Grenoble on Saturday afternoon as the bottom of the table Biarritz completed a crucial away victory to gain four crucial competition points. The club remains deep in the relegation zone but does have enough time left to find a way of avoiding relegation. Starting at tighthead prop for Biarritz was former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela who will join Bordeaux-Begles next season. Veteran USA Eagles right winger, Taku Ngwenya also started for the winning side.  

Paris 29-26 Oyonnax
Another highly competitive match took place on Saturday with the French capital city side Stade Français winning a nail-bitter by three points. The relegation threatened Oyonnax returned home with two competition points for scoring four tries and losing by less than seven. Starting for the Parisians was Argentine international back-rower Benjamín Macome who joined USA international Scott LaValla in the starting back-row. Macome made his third appearance in a Top 14 match but his first in the Stade Français run-on team. Oyonnax had two Pumas involved with former test scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola starting and former fly half Benjamín Urdapilleta coming off the bench. Urdapilleta landed a latre conversion for his team which has two games in hand. 

Castres 29-27 Toulouse
Puma Patricio Albacete captained Toulouse and his team was well in control early on with the team representing the fourth largest French city scoring three early first half tries. Discipline faded though which saw multiple players yellow carded and Castres awarded a second half penalty try. The 22-3 lead vanished as Toulouse performed appallingly in the second half which saw Castres go 29-22 ahead. Toulouse had an opportunity to draw the match though in the final minute after having scored in the corner but the conversion rebounded off the posts. Featuring for Castres was Uruguayan forward Rodrigo Capó Ortega who started in the second-row.

Bayonne 9-15 Toulon
The round came to a close on Sunday with Bayonne hosting Toulon in a match the club needed to to due to Oyonnax having two matches in hand and those matches being against sides the club can defeat - Biarritz and Bordeaux-Begles. Bayonne, though, was not able to collect sufficient competition points. The Basque club secured one point for losing by less than seven while Toulon returned home with four. Featuring for Toulon was Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe. The Pumas captain played his first match for four months and did so as a starting back-rower. Involved for Bayonne were two Pumas with Santiago Fernández starting at inside centre and Martín Bustos Moyano being a replacement.

1 Clermont 60
2 Paris 56
3 Toulon 55
4 Castres 55
5 Montpellier 53
6 Grenoble 50
7 Toulouse 50
8 Racing Métro 48
9 Bordeaux 46
10 Brive 46
11 Perpignan 42
12 Bayonne 39
13 Oyonnax 35
14 Biarritz 21

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