Sunday, November 30, 2014

Top 14: Americas Players Review - Round 12

Photo: Rugby Rama
The competitive nature of the Top 14 was clear in round 12 of the competition played this weekend. Championship winning sides and finalists from recent seasons including Castres, Clermont, Toulouse and Montpellier were all defeated which saw changes to the standings. Involved were players from Argentina, Uruguay and the USA. All three countries will be competing at Rugby World Cup 2015 and will have French based players in their squads. Pumas coach Daniel Hourcade is looking to have four players per position with the identified sixty players being narrowed down by late June in preparation for the World Cup. Many players both certain to feature and fringe selections played in round 12. 

Toulon 27-19 Clermont
Relocated to Nice a crowd of 30,000 were treated to a competitive fixture which Toulon won late in the piece as Clermont Auvergne held a 19-17 lead in the 59th minute. Puma Nicolás Sánchez kicked Toulon to the lead with a penalty in what was part of a personal performance in which he scored twelve points. Also involved from the Americas was Martín Castrogiovanni who has earned over 100 test caps for Italy despite being born and raised in Argentina.

Castres 9-14 Racing Métro
A home loss for Castres Olympique sees the 2013 French champions remaining in serious trouble as the club sits in bottom place of the Top 14. Racing Métro, by way of comparison, are sitting in a very healthy position and are not likely to move down unless being hit by an injury crisis. Starting for Castres were two South Americans with Puma Ramiro Herrera playing tighthead prop and Uruguay's Rodrigo Capó Ortega behind him in the second-row. Racing Métro's Pumas were not involved.

Oyonnax 28-23 Bordeaux
The Argentine halves combination of Agustín Figuerola and Benjamín Urdapilleta started the match for Oyonnax. Both players perfomed well with Urdapilleta proving to be the match-winner as he kicked twenty-three points. Neither player has played for Los Pumas under Daniel Hourcade but both remain possibilities for Hourcade's 60 man identification as does former Argentine tighthead prop Francisco Goméz Kodela who was on the bench for Bordeaux.

Toulouse 22-25 Grenoble
On reputation Toulouse is the strongest French team but the side representing France's fourth largest city has struggled for much of the present season and was upset at home on Saturday by Grenoble. Former Puma Patricio Albacete started for Toulouse in the second-row. The veteran of three Rugby World Cups will never play again for Argentina after a bitter off-field dispute with head coach Daniel Hourcade saw the multiple Top 14 and Heineken Cup champion's test career terminated.

Lyon 23-20 Montpellier
Having started very strongly Montpellier has had a poor series of performances since losing fly half François Trinh-Duc to a broken leg last month. The club continues to drop in the standings and head coach Fabian Galthie's future is seriously clouded. Last season's Pro d2 champions, Lyon were able to win a tight match and with it gain valuable competition points as the battle to avoid relegation is certain to continue into the final rounds as was the case last season. Pumas Francisco Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro and Juan Manuel Leguizamón both started with the latter scoring a second half try.

La Rochelle 19-19 Bayonne
Two teams who have been categorized as relegation prone fought out a 19-19 draw in La Rochelle on Saturday. With the home side not being able to secure the win it remains in the relegation zone. Former Pumas Santiago Fernández and Martín Bustos Moyano both started the fixture. Bustos Moyano kicked eleven points for Bayonne. Both players were not picked by Hourcade at all in 2014 but by no means can either be considered out of the frame. Leandro Cedaro started in the second-row for La Rochelle. The Argentine born and raised forward is capped by Italy.

Paris 20-17 Brive
Coached by former Puma Gonzalo Quesada Stade Français Paris hosted Brive in a Sunday afternoon fixture and were looking for full competition points ahead of the European Challenge Cup fixtures. The Parisians, though, were given a late scare as Brive scored a late penalty and try to finish within three points. USA Eagles back-rower Scott LaValla started for the home side as did Italian captain Sergio Parisse who is from La Plata.

#
Club
Pts
1
Toulon
37
2
Clermont
36
3
Paris
35
4
Racing Métro
33
5
Grenoble
32
6
Bordeaux
29
7
Toulouse
28
8
Montpellier
27
9
Oyonnax
25
10
Bayonne
23
11
Brive
23
12
Lyon
22
13
La Rochelle
21
14
Castres
20

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