Sunday, November 2, 2014

Top 14: Americas Players Review - Round 10

Photo La Nacion
The weekend before the start of the November international window featured a full round of Top 14 rugby. Involved were players set to feature for a host of countries this month, including players from the Americas such as Nicolás Sánchez (pictured to the right) who debuted for Toulon earlier today. With the competition being incredibly tight all competition points on offer need to be obtained. A failure to do so can see big teams relegated. Biarritz and Perpignan were cases in point last season and the 2013 French champions are now, after ten rounds, placed bottom of the table.

Lyon 17-41 Toulouse
Not since April 2013 had Lyon lost at home. This changes on Saturday, though, as Toulouse put on a classy performance to make it five wins in a row. Criticism over Toulouse has argued that the club is on the way down and will not be able to repeat the performances that resulted in trophies in France and Europe until recently. The loss sees Lyon dropping behind Bayonne, La Rochelle and Brive while Toulouse are just two points outside of the barrage zone. Pumas Patricio Albacete, Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro and Juan Manuel Leguizamón were not involved in the match.

Brive 21-15 Castres
At home Brive is a team to be taken very seriously. Seldom do teams visit the Stade Amédée-Domenech and return with a victory. Brive's ability to compete at home is contrary to its record on the road and with the Top 14 being such a tight competition any points on offer need to be obtained. Involved for Castres were two players expected to be a part of Rugby World Cup 2015. Uruguayan second-rower Rodrigo Capó Ortega and Argentine tighthead prop Ramiro Herrera both started for Castres.

La Rochelle 21-15 Montpellier
Since having lost François Trinh-Duc to injury Montpellier has gone from contenders to strugglers. The impact in which the number one fly half in France has on his team is, at times, extraordinary. A month ago this fixture ought to have seen Montpellier winning cleanly but, instead, La Rochelle continues to be an impressive team at home and looking like a strong chance at avoiding relegation. Argentina's Leandro Cedaro started for La Rochelle in the second-row. He was selected by Santiago Phelan but turned down the offer to play for Italy. Montpellier's Argentine players were not involved in this match.

Racing Métro 17-21 Oyonnax
An away victory for Oyonnax eases the fears of relegation. Going into the match Racing Métro had double the points to that of Oyonnax but now the smaller club has greatly aided its chances. Juan Imhoff started for the home side. Playing on the right wing the Puma set up a try with an impressive offload in a tackle. The performance of note in this match, however, was by former Puma Benjamín Urdapilleta. Despite not having played for a full strength Argentine team ever he has been capped but has not been able to break into the top side. Against Racing Métro he scored all of this team's points. Also invovled was Agustín Figuerola. The former Pumas scrumhalf was a replacement for Oyonnax.

Paris 39-22 Bordeaux-Begles
The Gonzalo Quesada coached Stade Français Paris completed an impressive bonus point victory on Saturday evening to move back up the table into third position. Involved was Italy's captain Sergio Parisse who is from Argentina. Former Puma Francisco Goméz Kodela played at tighthead prop for the visitors who, despite the result, remain well placed in fourth position. Scott LaValla did not feature for the Parisians due to his involvement in the USA v New Zealand match in Chicago.

Bayonne 24-13 Clermont
Last season Bayonne saved itself from relegation in the final round of the competition. With the Top 14 increasingly been evenly fought the team was thought of as being a likely contender for relegation come May 2015. Currently sitting in ninth the club is not out of trouble but with wins against teams such as Clermont Auvergne there is reason for firm optimism. Three Pumas were in Bayonne's lineup for the match with Martín Bustos Moyano scoring the opening try on the right wing. Santiago Fernández played inside centre while new signing and current Puma Benjamín Macome was a late replacement back-rower. Clermont's Canadian Jamie Cudmore was given a rest for this match. 

Toulon 61-28 Grenoble
The final match of the round was the only one not played on Saturday. The Sunday afternoon south-eastern France derby between Toulon and Grenoble featured Puma Nicolás Sánchez making his debut appearance for Toulon.In a memorable debut he scored sixteen points as Toulon ran out comfortable winners to move ahead of Clermont Auvergne into first position. Sánchez is expected to be named at fly half for Argentina against Scotland on Saturday November 08.

Racing Métro
La Rochelle

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