Friday, March 14, 2014

Top 14: Benjamín Urdapilleta kicks Oyonnax to victory over Biarritz

With a first away victory of the season Oyonnax can dream of avoiding relegation to the Pro d2. The same cannot be said of Biarritz Olympique, a club that was second in the Heineken Cup as recently as 2010. Biarritz lost the European club final 21-19 against Toulouse but is now the latest small town club from France´s South West set to be relegated to the second division. At the forefront for Oyonnax was Benjamín Urdapilleta who impressed in producing a match winning performance to condemn Biarritz to relegation. 

The match is the only Top 14 fixture this weekend. It was a round seventeen game that was to have been played earlier in the season but had to be postponed due to severe weather impacting the playing surface. It proved to be a blessing for Oyonnax who had injury concerns at the time, including the clubs star of the season thus far, Argentina´s Benjamín Urdapilleta.

The Argentine fly half broke the hearts of Biarritz players and supporters by landing a penalty goal two minutes from full time to seal a narrow 24-22 victory. Urdapilleta played the full match at pivot and did so  in an Argentine 9-10 combination with former Puma Agustín Figuerola. The two players were joined by Francisco Goméz Kodela in the match. The Bordeaux-Begles bound tighthead prop started for Biarritz as did USA winger Taku Ngwenya.

It was the ninth home loss for Biarritz this season while, for Oyonnax, it was the first victory on the road. The result sees Oyonnax close the gap between itself in thirteenth and Bayonne and Perpignan whom both hold a slender advantage and could be overtaken as Oyonnax still has one more game in hand - a match at home against Bordeaux-Begles to be played on April 5. Perpignan will play host to Biarritz next weekend. Should Oyonnax win at home against Montpellier next weekend and either Bayonne or Perpignan lose then it would be out of the relegation zone. 

The Basque club has 23 competition points with five rounds remaining. With the bottom two being relegated it therefore needs to finish no lower than twelfth. The nineteen points separating Perpignan from Biarritz require Biarritz to win all remaining games and for Perpignan to fail to win again. Put differently, Biarritz is not technically relegated but faces a near impossible task. It must defeat all of Perpignan, Castres, Racing Métro, Brive and Bordeaux-Begles. 

Top 14 Standings
1 Clermont 60
2 Toulon 60
3 Montpellier 57
4 Paris 56
5 Toulouse 55
6 Castres 55
7 Racing Métro 52
8 Brive 51
9 Bordeaux 50
10 Grenoble 50
11 Bayonne 43
12 Perpignan 42
13 Oyonnax 39
14 Biarritz 23

No comments:

Post a Comment