Sunday, August 24, 2014

Top 14: Americas Players Review - Round 2

Photo: Rugby Time
Round two of the 2014-2015 Top 14 took place in France on Friday and Saturday and with it a pattern of results is already starting to emerge as there are four winless clubs and only five yet to be defeated. This season, in other words, is likely to see a notable difference in the standings unlike the previous season when teams, aside from Biarritz Olympique, tended to all win their home matches. Involved were players from North and South America - rugby's only continents never to have been allocated a Rugby World Cup. The need for rugby to to break out of the shackles of previous hosts being considered repeatedly for future events. 

Toulouse 35-6 Castres
The 2014 defeated finalists Castres were badly defeated in the opening match of the round on Friday. The local derby between the big city Toulouse and small town Castres saw the traditional powerhouse club that is Stade Toulousian powering to an impressive bonus point victory. Involved was Patricio Albacete, the unwanted Argentine second-rower who could have been a key replacement in Salta for Los Pumas on Saturday. Castres was missing Ramiro Herrera who started for Los Pumas.

Brive 6-21 Clermont
Clermont remains undefeated after completing an away victory against Brive on Saturday. Similar to Toulouse the night before the Clermont team had numerous strong performances from French internationals past and present which underlines the lack of an argument of Phillipe Saint-Andre who claims the French team is suffering from imports. Canadian veteran Jamie Cudmore started in the second-row for the winners.

Bayonne 38-12 Oyonnax
Two sides that avoided relegation last season in the final round faced-off on Saturday in a match-up which was far from being even. The home side, Bayonne, dominated the first half in scoring four tries to two to hold a 31-12 lead with a bonus point in the bad at the interval. One of the tries was scroed by former Puma Santiago Fernández who was playing at inside centre. Two other former Pumas started the match with Agustín Figuerola and Benjamín Urdapilleta continuing their 9-10 combination for Oyonnax. Urdapilleta landed a conversion.

Bordeaux 30-21 Racing Métro
In years gone by the Top 14 had been dominated by small town teams from France's south-west. This is no longer the case as only Bayonne and Castres fall into the category this season. Bordeaux and Racing Métro are both big city sides and when France hosted Rugby World Cup 2007 both were in the second division. Racing Métro has been a powerhouse since winning promotion but Bordeaux with a strong development system is a team to been respected. Bordeaux's home win sees the side undefeated unlike Racing Métro who was without Juan Imhoff who is injured but expected to face New Zealand in Napier next month.

Montpellier 20-17 Grenoble
A tight contest between two big city teams saw the stronger of the two, on reputation, come out on top. Montpellier, consequently, completed its first win of the season while Grenoble narrowly lost as was the case in the opening round. Former Puma's loosehead prop Nahuel Lobo did not feature nor did Maximilano Bustos who is sidelined with a serious back injury.

Toulon 60-16 La Rochelle
At the end of the season Toulon are likely to be involved in play-offs matches for the right to play in the Top 14 final while La Rochelle could be back in the Pro d2. The manner in which Toulon defeated La Rochelle suggests the season could be a very long one for the visiting club. All home matches will need to be prioritized to collect competition points. Toulon was missing Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe who started for Argentina and Bryan Habana, Juan Smith and Bakkies Botha who were involved for the Springboks. Even without such players the team was far too strong.

Paris 23-20 Lyon
Two big city French sides played the final match of the round and it was the home side that came out on top as Stade Français was given a late scare with Lyon scoring a penalty try and a try in the final quarter. Italy's captain, Sergio Parisse, from Argentina played in the Parisian back-row. Lyon was without Juan Manuel Leguizamón who started in Salta. Stade Français is coached by former Puma Gonzalo Quesada who did not use USA Eagle Scott LaValla.

1
Toulon
9
2
Toulouse
8
3
Clermont
8
4
Bordeaux
8
5
Paris
8
6
Bayonne
5
7
Montpellier
5
8
Brive
5
9
Racing Métro
4
10
Grenoble
2
11
Lyon
1
12
Oyonnax
1
13
Castres
1
14
La Rochelle
0

No comments:

Post a Comment