Top 14 Round 14 Wrap-Up

Top 14 Round 14 Wrap-Up

Ultimate Rugby and Larissa Falls wrap-up Round 14 of the French Top14. 

Perpignan v Racing 92

FT = Perpignan 26 – 5 Racing 

Racing went down to Catalan County as favourites but were handed a rude awakening by a Perpignan outfit unbeaten at Stade Aime Giral in their last 5 Top14 appearances. The home side led from the opening score to the final siren, kicking it off with 2 converted tries to Backs Louis Dupichot and Tom Ecochard, inside the initial 25 minutes. Fly-Half Jake McIntyre- taking the kicking duties in the absence of Tommaso Allan who’s with Italy- added both conversions. Racing’s first and last score of the day was a Janick Tarrit try on the half hour mark, but that was quickly erased when Perpignan’s prolific Winger Tavite Veredamu went over for the side’s third try of the half, to give the hosts a 19-5 lead. Despite amassing more carries, meters and passes- and with a matchday still consisting of Internationals such as Ben Arous, Chat, Laclayat, Imhoff, Habosi, Wade- the Parisian league leaders couldn’t up the scoreboard after the main break. It was USAP once again who would cross thanks to sub Igancio Ruiz, and thus, handing his side an all-important 79th minute Offensive Bonus Point victory. 

Clermont v Lyon

FT = Clermont 38 – 21 Lyon 

It was all one-way traffic in the first half when Clermont’ welcomed Lyon on Saturday. The home side racked up an impressive 5 unanswered tries before LOU salvaged pride before halftime. ASM Winger Alivereti Raka crossed as early as the second minute before he added his- and the teams second- just 4 minutes later to have the club 12-0 up inside 7 minutes; the Winger would finish the day with leading stats in carries (17), line breaks (3), and dominant tackles (3). It didn’t get any better for Lyon who conceded another trio of tries; 2 through Peceli Yato and a solo effort from Joris Jurand. Clermont Fly-Half Belleau was 4 from 5 from the kicking tee with the conversions, whilst things went from bad to worse for the Wolves as Backrower Liam Allen picked up a Yellow. It wasn’t until moments prior to the halftime whistle did Lyon score; courtesy of Half-Back pairing Baptiste Couilloud and Leo Berdeu. Le Rouge et Noir’s scorers were the same to open the second period. ASM sub Darricarrere’s final try gave them the Offensive Bonus Point regardless of Englishman Joel Kpoku’s late cross for the visitors. 

La Rochelle v Montpellier 

FT = La Rochelle 18 – 10 Montpellier 

The opening half of La Rochelle versus Montpellier wasn’t anything to write home about with only 3 penalty goals kicked; 2 v 1 in favour of the home side to give them a slender 3-point halftime lead. Les Maritime came out of the changing rooms and furthered their scoreboard advantage courtesy of Brice Dulin’s try, which was dutifully converted by Fly-Half Antoine Hastor who was released from the extended French 6 Nations squad. Man-mountain Levani Botia was next to score with Stade Rochelle beginning to pull away even more so; 18-3 after an hours play. Despite accruing more carries, line breaks, meters, and entries, Montpelluer’s only try- from Baptiste Edochio- was to come because of La Rochelle’s Judicial Caricoriet seeing Yellow. Carbonel- who was a shining light for the visitors with 14 carries and 3 line breaks- added the extras to give his side some respectability on the board. 

Toulouse v Bayonne

FT = Toulouse 46 – 26 Bayonne

Toulouse and Bayonne threw on an absolute cracker of a match which featured no less than 11 tries and four Yellow Cards in an afternoon where the home side were celebrating their 500th French League match- the first Top14 side to do so! Stade Ernest-Wallon didn’t have to wait long for the tries to fall with ST’s Winger Bituniyata striking first blood inside the opening 10 minutes. Vincent Giudicelci hit back for Bayonne, but it was short-lived as Dupont- in at Fly-Half- took the reigns as only he can. He crossed for his own try before sending over Inside Centre Pita Ahki unopposed with a gorgeous behind the back, flick pass. L’Aviron did out-score Toulouse in the final 10 minutes of the half helped largely by Le Noir et Rouge losing 2 Forwards to the bin in quick succession. Even with the 2-man disadvantage, it was the home side who came out the changerooms and scored straight away courtesy of Albans Placines. Both sides then exchanged further tries before Toulouse Full-Back, Mallia, put the icing on the cake with the Offensive Bonus Point locked in on the final siren, after some more Dupont magic who he executed a cross-field kick to perfection. 

Oyonnax v Stade Francais

FT = Oyonnax 19 – 23 Stade Francais 

This game was the perfect example of sport being not about how you start, but about how you finish. Oyonnax made light work of Stade Francais right up until the main break with the home side running out to a 16-3 lead thanks to a try from Theo Millet, and 11 points from Fly-Half Domingo Miot. Conversely, Stade had a meager penalty goal until the 39th minute when Julien Delbouis crossed for the away side; Segonds adding the extras to have the team a lucky 6 points behind. The Parisian side did struggle to create attacking opportunities- entering Oyonnax’s 22 only 4 times- but they did make up for that with first-rate execution; averaging 4.2 points per visit to the Red Zone. The Top14’s Player of January, Jeremy Ward, scored a 5-pointer for the Pink Army before sub, Zach Henry added the conversion and then a penalty on the 65th minute to hand his side their first lead of the match; a win away from home; and top spot in the Standing’s. 

Pau v Castres

FT = Pau 33 – 44 Castres  

Pau versus Castres was an entertaining match-up with almost a point a minute being scored. The first half was a constant exchange of tries with Pau striking first with a Dan Robson 5-pointer inside the first minute. Youngster Gailleton scored the second to give Pau a 14-0 lead after only 7 minutes. But Castres stayed toe to toe, hitting back with their own brace of tries (Botitu and Popelin), with each team dotting down for another just before halftime. The hosts took a 27-21 advantage into the changerooms with the 5-point difference coming thanks to the accuracy of the league’s leading points scorer, Joe Simmonds. He soon went from hero to zero after coping a Yellow right after the break, consequently gifting CO a penalty try, and their first lead of the game for which they would not surrender. Although Olympique received 2 of their own Yellows in the second period, they would still go on to outscore the home team 16-6 courtesy of a Nathanuel Hulleu try and 9 Louis Le Brun points from the tee. Pau continued their mid-season slump with their fourth consecutive league loss.  

Toulon v Bordeaux 

FT = Toulon 32 – 37 Bordeaux  

It was despair for Toulon and delight for Bordeaux with the last play of the game deciding the score. If the ending was bad for Toulon, then the start was worse, with UBB’s Winger Madosh Tambwe crossing the goal line inside 60 seconds. RCT had to wait until the 12th minute before big-man Gigashvili forced his way over from close range to score. While Ben Tapuai was in the bin for UBB, Toulon’s Leicester Fainga’anuka scored the first of his days brace, whilst No.8 Selevasio Tolofua made sure Toulon took a handsome 22-13 lead into the halftime break after scoring his own 5-pointer. The second period saw the teams trade tries, and despite missing their starting Half-Backs, UBB were the ones to up the pressure through current Fly-Half, Garcia, with his side accruing 10 unanswered points. Enzo Herve- on for Dan Biggar- nudged over a penalty with 7 minutes remaining and only a 2-point buffer. It all looked set to be enough for RCT, but UBB’s Outside Centre, Depoortere (unlucky not to be with France), had other things on his mind when he went for a 79th minute 80 metre individual try to hand his side victory at Stade Mayol! 

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