Saturday, August 30, 2014

Top 14: Americas Players Review - Round 3

Photo France TV Sport
Round three of the Top 14 was played on Friday and Saturday in France and, despite the home teams winning most matches, there were a number of surprises such as La Rochelle and Oyonnax defeating teams with far larger budgets. Moreover after just three rounds of the new season big teams including Castres and Clermont have dropped matches at home while those to have won promotion from the Pro d2 are proving to be worthy of places in the premier division.  The top five after two rounds all lost in round three. In action were players from North and South America, rugby's only continents yet to have been allocated hosting rights to a Rugby World Cup. With the IRB becoming World Rugby the option of Argentina hosting in 2023 becomes stronger. 

Clermont 20-21 Montpellier
The round got underway in central France on Friday evening but did not go as expected for the home side as Clermont's fortress suffered a late defeat with unwanted French fly half François Trinh-Duc seeing the southern visitors home. Involved for Clermont was veteran Canadian international Jamie Cudmore who is expected to play in a fourth Rugby World Cup next year.

La Rochelle 37-25 Toulouse
No side should be taken likely. Such was the manner of La Rochelle's second half performance over heavy weights Toulouse that the home side appeared far from being fresh from the second division. Toulouse rested a number of regulars for the away fixture including former Puma Patricio Albacete who was on the bench.

Grenoble 37-23 Bordeaux
Argentina's opposition side during the recent warm-up period ahead of the Rugby Championship, Grenoble completed its first win of the season and did so in style. The former home of Nicolás Sánchez and Joaquín Tuculet powered to a bonus point victory at the Stade des Alpes.

Oyonnax 33-6 Paris
Also taking place in western France was a match expected to see the visiting side complete a second away victory to remain undefeated. Yet despite having knocked-over Castres in round one the Parisians were badly outperformed by Oyonnax who had former Pumas Benjamín Urdapilleta running the play in fine style. Uradpilleta played fly half outside another former Puma, Agustín Figuerola. The eighteen points scored by Urdapilleta included a second half try. Argentina-Italian Sergio Parisse was on the Stade Français bench.

Castres 30-6 Bayonne
The 2013 French champions completed a first win of the season and did so with Uruguayan forward Rodrigo Capó Ortega back from injury. Capó Ortega started in the second-row as he has done so for much of his career. Involved for Bayonne was unwanted Puma Santiago Fernández who played inside centre. Martín Bustos Moyano missed the match through injury while Ramiro Herrera of Castres is with Los Pumas in New Zealand.

Lyon 24-6 Brive
The winners of last season's Pro d2, Lyon also won for the first time this season. The big-city side has been attempting to prevent what went wrong several seasons ago when the club lasted just one season in the Top 14 by building a more balanced team and one featuring better players. Juan Manuel Leguizamón is one who will feature following the Rugby Championship.

Racing Métro 17-10 Toulon
A below full-strength Toulon side was found wanting in Paris in the final match of the round. It sees the club lose for the first time since March 22 when Toulon lost 22-16 against Clermont at the Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin. The result does nothing to change Toulon's position in the competition though as Toulon is tied with three others on nine competition points. Both players were without Pumas as Juan Imhoff and Juan Martín Fernández Lobbe are set to face the All Blacks next Saturday in Napier.

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

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