Saturday, April 19, 2014

Top 14: Americas Exports Round 25 Wrap

Photo France Info
The penultimate round of the Top 14 was played on Friday and Saturday in France. It featured a host of players from the Americas, the final IRB defined region to be allocated a Rugby World Cup. Players from this region delivered important performances for French clubs who remain fighting hard to secure every competition point possible to secure qualification for the new European competition in addition to the Top 14 play-offs. Many other clubs are also fighting for their survival as a second club will be joining Biarritz in the second division next season. With one round remaining three clubs are tied for the second relegation slot. 

Castres 22-15 Montpellier
The opening match of the round was played on Good Friday with the 2013 French Champions, Castres, hosting the top of the table Montpellier. The visiting side has already confirmed it will be in the play-offs as it cannot finish outside of the Top Six. It is, nonetheless, still playing to avoid the barrage to qualify directly for the Semi Finals which are to be played in Lille. Involved for Castres were two South Americans. Uruguayan veteran Rodrigo Capó Ortega started in the second-row while uncapped Argentine prop Ramiro Herrera played started at tighthead prop. Montpellier´s three Pumas props are all injured. 

Oyonnax 19-19 Toulouse
The relegation threatened Oyonnax hosted Toulouse in a vital match on Saturday afternoon. The small town side from eastern France was playing to avoid relegation and the club managed to secure two competition points to place significant pressure on both Bayonne and Perpignan who had matches to play later on in the day. Former Puma Benjamín Urdapilleta continued to play well for Oyonnax. The fly half continued with the Buenos Aires halves combination as he started outside Agustín Figuerola. Both players performed well with Figuerola directing traffic well and Urdapilleta kicking well at goal and also creating the first try of the match. He secured a late draw as he landed a 74th minute penalty. Patricio Albacete played in the second-row for Toulouse.

Perpignan 31-46 Toulon
Relocated to Barcelona´s Olympic Stadium Saturday´s match in Spain was one with Perpignan fighting for survival. The 2009 French Champions are now tied with Oyonnax and Bayonne after failing to secure a single point from the match against reigning European champions, Toulon. Perpignan´s final round opposition is to be Clermont Auvergne and to avoid relegation Perpignan is required to become the first team in five years to defeat the club in Clermont. Pumas captain Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe played in the back-row for Toulon who now top the standings.  

Grenoble 21-21 Bayonne
The pressure was on both Grenoble and Bayonne to win. A victory for Grenoble would be enough to remain in the Top 14 next season while Bayonne needed points to avoid being overtaken by Oyonnax. Grenoble started very well to hold a 13-0 lead but a good come back saw the match become very much an even contest. Grenoble held a lead heading into the final minutes only for Argentina´s Martín Bustos Moyano to kick Bayonne to a draw to secure two Top 14 competition points. The Cordoba winger kicked eleven points and was joined in the starting lineup by Pumas inside centre Santiago Fernández who played fly half.

Biarritz 19-13 Brive
The bottom of the table and already relegated Biarritz Olympique won at home on Saturday evening in a match which does not alter the fortunes of either itself of the visiting Brive. Involved in the fixture was former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela who will be playing for Bordeaux-Begles next season. USA international Taku Ngwenya was not involved for Biarritz. His future remains unknown both for club and country.

Racing Métro 22-6 Clermont Auvergne
Racing Métro will be playing in the new European competition next season. The club´s home win over Clermont Auvergne confirmed that the club will be one of the top six clubs at the end of the Top 14 regular season. Featuring for Racing Métro were Juan Imhoff and Juan Martín Hernández. The pair started in the back-three and both scored points. Hernández kicked a seventh minute drop goal while Imhoff scored an impressive second half try to confirm the victory and deny Clermont any competition points. Canadian Jamie Cudmore did not play for Clermont Auvergne. 

Paris 37-23 Bordeaux
The Gonzalo Quesada coached Stade Français Paris returned to winning ways with a fourteen point home victory over Bordeaux-Begles in the final match of the round. Stade Français is now tied with Toulouse for a place in the barrage and has everything to play for in round twenty-six. Despite both clubs having Pumas the only Argentina player involved was Italian captain Sergio Parisse who scored a try. USA international Scott LaValla did not feature for the home side. 

1
Toulon
73
2
Montpellier
71
3
Clermont
69
4
Racing Métro
69
5
Castres
66
6
Paris
64
7
Toulouse
64
8
Bordeaux-Begles
59
9
CA Brive
56
10
Grenoble
53
11
Perpignan
50
12
Bayonne
50
13
Oyonnax
50
14
Biarritz
30

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