Saturday, March 7, 2015

Top 14: Americas Exports - Round 19 Wrap

Photo Rugby Rama
Round 19 of the French championship, the Top 14 has come and gone and with it the unpredictability of the competition continues. It remains unclear as to which teams will be relegated and also which teams will be involved in the play-offs. Five teams sit within one loss of the relegation zone at present while the ninth placed Montpellier could rise to fifth next round. The round provided a strong indication of the importance of the Americas to the global game as players from Argentina, Canada, Uruguay and the USA were all involved. Of them many are expected to feature in Rugby World Cup 2015 in England and Wales. The Americas could host the World Cup for the first time in 2023 with Argentina being a very strong candidate.  

Oyonnax 9-3 Toulouse
The round got underway on Friday evening with a notable upset as Oyonnax moved into fifth position after completing a David v Goliath conquest. At the helm was former Pumas fly half Benjamín Urdapilleta who played outside former Pumas scrumhalf Agustín Figuerola. In kicking all nine points for Oyonnax Urdapilleta underlined his reputation as being a God in the small eastern French town. Both Pumas could yet be recalled for the World Cup.  

Bordeaux 22-23 Paris
Away victories are rare in the Top 14 and so when a team wins on the road it is sending a message to rivals. The Parisians continue to be enjoying their best season for more than half a decade. Involved from the bench for the Gonzalo Quesada was USA forward Scott LaValla. Former Puma Francisco Goméz  Kodela played tighthead prop for Bordeaux.

Castres 23-20 Lyon
The two bottom palced sides faced off in France's south-west on Saturday afternoon. For Castres Olympique it was a must-win encounter due to home fixtures being vital competition points. Midway through the second half it appeared that Lyon was on course for a famous away victory as it led by 17-5. Castres, though, hit back to recover and collect four vital competition points. Uruguay's Rodrigo Capó Ortega started in the second-row and Puma Ramiro Herrera started at tighthead prop.

Racing Métro 34-29 Grenoble
A highly entertaining match in Le Havre Racing Métro edged closer to a place in the barrage play-offs. Racing Métro's bonus point victory sees the club sitting comfortably in fourth position six points clear of Oyonnax, Toulouse and Bordeaux. Puma Juan Imhoff scored a second-half tries for the winning team. Involved from the bench was Argentine second-rower Tomás Lavanini.

Montpellier 15-15 La Rochelle
The arrival of South African World Cup winning coach Jake White has failed to turn the fortunes around for Montpellier. The club is outside of the barrage zone and failed to score a try against this season's bottom seed in the competition, La Rochelle. The draw sees La Rochelle out of the relegation zone for the time being. Argentine second-rower Leandro Cedaro started for La Rochelle. He turned down playing for Argentina to instead be capped by Italy. 

Clermont 28-16 Bayonne
A convincing home win sees Clermont marching on to the play-offs. The central French side is sitting much more comfortable than Bayonne which is dangerously close to the relegation zone. Involved for Clermont was Canadian Jamie Cudmore while Bayonne had former Puma Martín Bustos Moyano playing fullback and kicking four goals.

Toulon 34-11 Brive
Reigning champions Toulon remain well placed in sharing a lead with Clermont. On 57 competition points the two clubs are realistically already assured of a place in the final six. Brive, in contrast, is in danger of being relegated. On 35 competition points the club is just one point outside of the relegation zone and two ahead of the bottom placed Castres. Starting at fly half for Toulon was Nicolás Sánchez while his Pumas colleagues Juan Martín Hernández and Juan Fernández Lobbe were replacements.


#
Team
Pts
1
Toulon
57
2
Clermont
57
3
Paris
55
4
Racing Métro
51
5
Oyonnax
45
6
Toulouse
45
7
Bordeaux
43
8
Grenoble
42
9
Montpellier
42
10
Bayonne
37
11
La Rochelle
36
12
Brive
35
13
Lyon
34
14
Castres
33

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