Friday, January 17, 2020

European Rugby - Last Rites for 28 Clubs


Champions and Challenge Cups


EPCR Pool Play - Round 6 Preview

The European Professional Club Rugby tournament group stages conclude Friday through Sunday with 16 clubs advancing into the knockout frame first weekend in April between the brace of Cups, Champions and Challenge. And that means 28 will have naught to do that first weekend in April as there’s sure to be no happy ending for those XVs this year on The Continent. Six teams from each tournament qualify for extra time with numbers one and two at their respective tables earning a bye first round.
In Champions Cup heading into the weekend, only Group 3 is contendible yet as Clermont and Ulster are three table points apart with Clermont ahead, so a win by the French club takes the pool; Auvergne are on the trot at Twickers v Quins so no foregone conclusion there as Ulster host a thus far listless Bath (0-5-0) at Ravenhill.
Of Groups already won: Leinster (24 table points), Exeter, Racing and Toulouse (all on 22 tps), are in the market for a rest first round of playoffs. Clermont, too theoretically, but that would require near wholesale loss by the aforementioned group winners for that to happen.   
One pair of numbers 2s from the groups will advance with Clermont/Ulster most likely going and Sarries or Gloucester or Saints, currently all on 14 pts, providing the final knockouteer. Glasgow Warriors, on 12 points now, got a shot at the knocks, but that’ll be Chicken Little Days should that unlikely event occur.
Nine clubs after six post-season slots and the devil take those in the rear.

Upcomes Round 6


                Saturday, 1.18:

                                Benetton Treviso (6) v (24) Leinster at Stadio Comunale di Monigo: wrapping up the group;

                                Lyon (7) v (14) Northampton Saints at the Matmut: travelers need the bonus-point to remain in contention for a match seven in April;

                                Harlequins (9) v (20) Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham: travelers need this to close the group in their favor;

                                Ulster (17) v (4) Bath in Kingspan at Ravenhill: homeys’ll want the win plus one for extra time come April;

                                Exeter (22) v (10) La Rochelle at Sandy Park: closing the group but Chiefs are yet in contention for a rest first weekend of playoffs so they’d like the bonus-point win here and now;

                                Sale Sharks (7) v (12) Glasgow Warriors in AJ Bell at Salford City: pretty much for Queen, country and contract;
               
                Sunday, 1.19:

                                Munster (11) v (2) Ospreys at Thomond Park: Q, c&c and homeys won’t like that;

                                Saracens (14) v (22) Racing 92 at Allianz: must win large, Corsairs! Racing chasing the respite;

                                Montpellier (8) v (5) Connacht in GGL at the Altrad: see Sharks v Warriors;

                                Toulouse (22) v (14) Gloucester at Ernest Wallon: crucial for the extended life of travelers and equally so for homeboys who’d like the rest first round;


Challenge Cup
The undercard, as it were, has four groups also won, with excitement in Group 1 as three clubs could win the pool this weekend. Castres (18 tps), Dragons (15) and Worcester (15) all have a shot at taking the group. Castres are at Worcester, so bang-bang-bang there and the winner likely moving on, unless Dragons, who host luckless Enisei STM, count a thousand points which may not be as far-fetched a thought as it might initially seem.
Bristol, who lead the tournament in table points at 24, need victory on the trot at Zebre to earn the bye while Toulon can do the same with a five-pointer against Bayonne at the Mayol... that’s a likely the way Le Toulonnais are rocking the shop with old (not really) Eben Etzebeth onboard these days.
For the remaining two slots, that contentious G1 may provide a supplemental while Edinburgh (16 tps hosting Agen so it could be a fiver); Section Paloise, on 15 tps now but they host hot-hot Leicester who’re yet seeking a rest first round of knockouts should either Bristol or Toulon falter, so that's an explosion waiting to happen.


Upcomes Round 6

                Friday, 1.17.20:

                                Dragons (15) v (0) Enisei STM at Rodney Parade: got to count as many points as possible, home side!

                                Worcester Warriors (15) v (18) Castres Olympique at Sixways: outcome could result in a Dragons ascension; a draw here might short the sheets;

                Saturday, 1.18.20:

                                Cardiff Blues (13) v (1) Cammi Calvisano at the Arms Park: should be a bunch for the home side;

                                Section Paloise (15) v (22) Leicester Tigers at Stade du Hameau: homeys need it, big;

                                Brive (4) v (6) Stade Français at the Amédée-Domenech: for Q, c&c:

                                Zebre (11) v (24) Bristol Bears at Lanfranchi: home side looking good of late, but Bears could earn the 1st playoffs round respite with victory; monkey wrench? Actually homeys gotta a shot at extra time should the four in front of them lose, and the last time Zebre were in a position to make the post-season was... never!

                                Edinburgh (16) v (0) Agen at Murrayfield: homeys gotta win big and pray for help;

                                Wasps (11) v (22) Bordeaux-Bègles at the Ricoh: visitors need all points;
                                               
                                London Irish (7) v (14) Scarlets at Madejski: visitors will want the bonus-point, which may not be sufficient to earn an extra-time berth, yet that’s what they’ll be seeking;
                                                               
                                Toulon  (23) v (7) Bayonne at the Felix Mayol: home team has an outside shot at a rest 1st playoffs weekend, but that’ll require a 5-pointer here and either Leinster or Bristol to fail.





Sunday, January 12, 2020

EPCR WRaps - Champions and Challenge Cups



European Professional Club Rugby - Challenge Cup - Round 5
On the Weekend, By the Numbers
20+ table points will more than likely make extra time come April, possibly high-teens.

If you’re thinking, “Hey, what’s with Toulon? It’s like Wilkinson is back or something. Well that something is a new engine that’s got a springbok in its step, or in another words, two words: Eben Etzebeth. And if you’re thinking, “He’s kinds old isn’t he?” He’s not. He’s only 28, barely out of the cradle for a second row; he’s just been around for a good bit and has established himself by determined, savvy action on the pitch and there’s a lot of him at 20 stone and a tad more than 203 cm; he covers a bunch of ground standing, but when he moves, he can put a bit of wind behind him as well.

Home Happy: Bayonne, Bordeaux-Bègles, Bristol, Castres, Leicester, Worcester
Road Warriors: Pau, Toulon, Wasps, Zebre

12           for Bordeaux 10, Matti Jalibert, on 3-and-2 off his shoe and the home side shut the front (and rear) door(s) of their pool with the 32 - 17 victory over Edinburgh at Chaban-Delmas, #1 in the T14 topping #1 in GPro14 Conference B;

7              try Pau served up Cammi Calvisano in front of their faithful at the Pata, 47 - 19; 17 for Section Paloise 10, Clovis Lebail, on the conversions of 5-from-7 and a grounding of his own as the French club kept their extra time hopes up, though only just;

12           for Wasps 10, Lima Sopoaga, on 6-of-8 trys converted and a suspenders set from the big blindside, Ashley Johnson, and 12, Jimmy Gopperth, who made the bonus-point between them in the 52 - 24 throttling of Agen;

15           for Castres 15, Julien Dumora, on 5 conversions and 1 grounding, and homeys got on top of their group after 42 - 14 happiness over Dragons at Pierre Fabre; Olympique now lead the group wherein 3 teams could yet take the mantle next week;

14           point halftime advantage, 19-5, made 17 by day’s end and Bayonne got the bonus-point over London Irish at home, 27 - 10;

2              point lead in the 76th, 24-22, could not be held by Stade Français and a grounding by Zebre relief engine, George Biaji, made 7 by 9, Guglielmo Palazzani, had the 29 - 24 road happy;

17           for Bristol 10, Callum Sheedy, on a perfect 7-and-1 true sticks for fun and 7-try Bears ate Brive at Ashton Gate, 52 - 3;

5              trys between a brace of Warriors youngsters, 13 Ollie Lawrence (3 and 18 years) and relief 15 Noah Heward (2 and 20) assisted their home, 66 - 10, win over Enisei STM;

4              trys by the midpoint whistle and Toulon were ready to go home with the win; travelers added a sticksplitter for tallies of 27 and 8 at Parc y Scarlets and in doing so, closed the pool and maybe Scarlets playoffs hopes.

15           for Leicester 10, George Ford, on 3-and-3 and Tigers won the pool with 30 - 20 victory, eliminating Dragons from extra time;



Upcomes Round 6

                Friday, 1.17.20:

                                Dragons (15) v (0) Enisei STM at Rodney Parade: got to count as many points as possible, Blues!

                                Worcester Warriors (15) v (18) Castres Olympique at Sixways: outcome could result in a Dragons ascension;

                Saturday, 1.18.20:

                                Cardiff Blues (13) v (1) Cammi Calvisano at the Arms Park: should be a bunch for the home side;

                                Section Paloise (15) v (22) Leicester Tigers at Stade du Hameau: homeys need it, big;

                                Brive (4) v (6) Stade Français at the Amédée-Domenech: for Q, c&c:

                                Zebre (11) v (24) Bristol Bears at Lanfranchi: home side looking good of late, but Bears could earn the 1st playoffs round respite with victory;

                                Edinburgh (16) v (0) Agen at Murrayfield: homeys gotta win big and pray for help;

                                Wasps (11) v (22) Bordeaux-Bègles at the Ricoh: visitors need all points;
                                               
                                London Irish (7) v (14) Scarlets at Madejski: visitors will want the bonus-point, which may not be sufficient to earn an extra-time berth, yet that’s what they’ll be seeking;
                                                               
                                Toulon  (2) v (7) Bayonne at the Felix Mayol: home team has an outside shot at a rest 1st playoffs weekend, but that’ll require a 5-pointer here and either Leinster or Bristol to fail;

               European Professional Club Rugby - Champions Cup
Round 5 -On the Weekend - By the Numbers

All pools won save for Group C, which’ll be sorted last round, next weekend.

10           for Harlequins 10, Brett Herron, on 2-and-2 struck from his shoe and travelers upended Bath at the Rec, 25 - 19; USA Eagles midfielder, Paul Lasike, aided well his club’s double v the swimmers;

1              point adrift at the midpoint, 15-16, no problem for homeboys as La Rochelle returned for victory over Sale at the Marcel Deflandre, 30 - 23;    

17           for Saracens 19 years old 10, Manu Vunipola, on 1-and-5 sufficient the task of dispatching Ospreys at Liberty, 22 - 15, but only just as a 4th minute red and a 32nd minute yellow enabled a brace by home side’s 15, Dan Evans, in exploitation of those judgements and for the moment, big birds led in minute 42, 15-12; a grounding by Sarries 11, Alex Lewington in the 52nd, its completion by Vunipola and a further sticksplitter by the young standoff made the result and Saracens yet in the pool;

             Clermont sticksplitters, braces by the 9s, Morgan Parra and his reliever Grieg Laidlaw, and a dropped goal by 10, Camille Lopez, along with 2 trys against all Ulster 9, John Cooney had, a 1-2-1 triple made for a 29 - 13 final and a new leader in Group 3;

4              tickets total issued at the Sportsground with travelers ending the match with only 13, though Stade Toulouse persevered, topping Connacht on the trot, 21 - 7, to claim the group;

31           for every manjack at Scotstoun as Glasgow and Exeter did the sister-kiss and each counted 3 table points for the leveling of one another; 14 points scored by Chiefs during intervals of Warriors yellow card assessment service; double for El Jefes 8man, Matt Kvesic, in the win that wins the group for travelers, while the emotionless outcome more than likely ends the Warriors ability to enter the extra-time frame;

             trys and 5 table points for Gloucester as Cherry-and-Whites opened up Montpellier after taking a 7-3 lead to the sheds at the midpoint and grounding 3 additional trys in the second stanza at Kingsholm for the 29 - 6 victory;

3              periods of 15 v 14 during which Leinster scored 21 points, the margin of victory in the Irish Province’s 42 - 21 win over Lyon; double for flyer Dave Kearney and the 14 counted by 10, Ross Byrne, on 7-from-7 completion perfection for the home side in the effort that secures the group and, at present, the highest table points total in the Cup;

6              lead changes in the lively and frenetic activity at Franklin’s Gardens with Northampton 13, Fraser Dingwall, dotting the terminal go-ahead at ’78 and the home team grounding another in the 21st minute of extra time for the 33 - 20 win over Benetton;

5              points behind at the midpoint, 11-16, not a worry for Racing who returned for 5-point victory, dotting the bonus-point score well into extra-time for the 39 -22 win over Munster;





Upcomes Round 6

                Saturday, 1.18:

                                Benetton Treviso (7) v (24) Leinster at Stadio Comunale di Monigo: wrapping up the group;

                                Lyon (6) v (14) Northampton Saints at the Matmut: travelers need the bonus-point to remain in contention for a match seven inn April;

                                Harlequins (9) v (20) Clermont Auvergne at Twickenham: travelers need this to close the group in their favor;

                                Ulster (17) v (4) Bath in Kingspan at Ravenhill: homeys’ll want the win plus one for extra time come April;

                                Exeter (22) v (10) La Rochelle at Sandy Park: closing the group but Chiefs are yet in contention for a rest first weekend of playoffs so they’d like the bonus-point win here and now;

                                Sale Sharks (7) v (12) Glasgow Warriors in AJ Bell at Salford City: pretty much for Queen, country and contract;
               
                Sunday, 1.19:

                                Munster (11) v (2) Ospreys at Thomond Park: Q, c&c and homeys won’t like that;

                                Saracens (14) v (22) Racing 92 at Allianz: must win large, Corsairs!

                                Montpellier (5) v (8) Connacht in GGL at the Altrad: see Sharks v Warriors;

                                Toulouse (22) v (14) Gloucester at Ernest Wallon: crucial for the extended life of travelers and equally so for homeboys who’d like the rest first round;






                                 
                                 

                
               
                                 


Friday, January 10, 2020

EPCR Champions Cup Round 5: tock-tick


European Professional Club Rugby - Champions Cup
Round 5 - Preview

All pools have the potential to become shuttered after this weekend’s contests, some more likely than others.


Upcomes Round 5

                Friday, 1.10.20:

                                La Rochelle (5) v (6) Sale Sharks at Marcel Deflandre: should be good competition; both are competitive in their leagues just now, though this match will be played for Queen, country and contract and it should be a dilly!

                                Bath (3) v (5) Harlequins at the Rec:  Queen and Country... and contract! travelers won their home half and would like to do the double, while their hosts would not like that; these boys are even on table points in the English League and this result may affect the remainder of each club’s campaigns;

                               
                               
                Saturday, 1.11:

                                Ospreys (1) v (10) Saracens at Liberty Stadium: travelers need five here; homeys may not comply; Corsairs on the big roll now, while their hosts continue to founder like a flounder... more flop than flip... homeys searching for the plot just now...

                                Clermont Auvergne (16) v (17) Ulster at the Michelin: Match of Round 5; visitors only-just topped their adversaries in the second round; a win by the home XV may secure extra-time;

                                Glasgow Warriors (9) v (19) Exeter Chiefs at Scotstoun: homeboys campaign lost a wheel last time out in tournament play and will need a big fix to regain traction; visitors can close pool today; a loss by Glasgow exits them from playoffs frame;
                                 
                                Connacht (8) v (18) Toulouse at the Sportsground: travelers close pool or home team keeps innit? Sleeper of the Weekend; visitors shocked last outing and will like to prove that an anomalous instant; hosts are rolling the coaster recently, so could be which side shows up will be the factor of decision;
                               
                                Gloucester (9) v (5) Montpellier at Kingsholm: Cherry-and-Whites on the cusp and need a b-p win here; their guests are experiencing an uncommonly rocky road in their season campaign and a road win would go far in a redemptory way;

                Sunday, 1.12:    
                               
                                Leinster (19) v (7) Lyon at the RDS: pool closing time; the Irish province are best in show in any league at the present time; their guests may be resting some slightly-wounded warriors to better serve their T14 run; this outcome may be a foregone conclusion already;

                                Racing 92 (17) v (11) Munster at La Defense: visitors winnit, they're yet innit; a loss puts travelers unhappily in Parisian streets of a Sunday evening and homeward bound out of the tournament playoffs frame;

                                Northampton Saints (9) v (6) Benetton Treviso at Franklin’s Gardens: home side needs a b-p here and now; Saints gotta win and they gotta win large, while their opponents on this day have nothing to lose but the match and their positions in the first XV; could be better competition than one might expect;




Challenge Cup Round 5 Preview: tick-tock

Challenge Cup - Round 5 - Preview


                Friday, 1.10.20

                                Stade Français (4) v (6) Zebre at Jean-Bouin: for pride and contract; home team will be attempting the double as they pipped this weekend’s guests by a point last month in Northern Italy; guests found substance previously lacking in hammering their opponents last outing in GPro14 action; this should be a free-flowing affair with a commensurate cumulative points total;

                                Agen (0) v (6) Wasps at Stade Armandie: for queen and country; Hornets will attempt the double today after looking competitive in their last pair of league fixtures, splitting near, won-lost results with playoffs-situated sides recently; homeboys haven’t had a happy ending since middle of October though this could be a turning point in their season;

                                Castres Olympique (13) v (15) Dragons at Pierre Fabre: this’ll go far in determining the pool winner; Olympique are rolling right now, not having lost since the middle of November in all matches; travelers can claim the group with victory here today;

                                Bayonne (2) v (7) London Irish at Jean-Dauger: visitors vagrant chances may disappear here; visitors haven’t won since November, while homeys got a win in December; as in the first two matches today, this outcome will not affect the playoffs frame, yet the competition will be fluid and wide-open; gonna be a goody!

                               
                Saturday, 1.11.20:

                                Bordeaux-Bègles (17) v (16) Edinburgh at Chaban-Delmas: for the group; contest ‘twixt two of the top performers in their respective leagues; Home team haven’t experienced sadness since mid-October, while the Scots have lost only once in their recent seven games; rock ‘em-sock ‘em of the highest order;
                               
                                Cammi Calvisano (1) v (10) Section Paloise at Pata Stadium: travelers must win to keep their extra time plans in play; expect Pau to go all out, while Cammi may surprise: pressure’s off individual players who may respond with significant efforts;

                                Worcester Warriors (11) v (0) Enisei STM at Sixways: this’ll be five for homeys; champions of the Russian home league having a rough go of it in Europe; home side is one of three in their group that could move on into the extra-time platform, but they’ll need maximum points here; any joy to be found by travelers must begin with better discipline;

                                Bristol Bears (19) v (9) Brive at Ashton Gate: home team could close the pool now and here; however, Bears have dropped their last three fixtures and appear to be having trouble keeping their opponents from the try zone, while Brive have yet to win on the trot this season in all competitions;

                                Scarlets (14) v (18) Toulon at Parc y Scarlets: gonna sort this group now-now, bang, rockin’ the Parc! travelers coming strong with no losses since mid-October, while hosts realize that this result may determine their post-tournament activity;

                Sunday, 1.12.20:
               
                                Leicester Tigers (18) v (13) Cardiff Blues at Welford Road: homeboys can win the group today, but should travelers triumph, the quartet is up for grabs; this outcome will affect the remainder of both clubs’ seasons



 


Monday, January 6, 2020

EuroPro WRaps: Gallagher, Guinness and the Top 14

The three European Leagues are on break for a fortnight as European Professional Club Rugby tournaments, Champions and Challenge Cups, complete Rounds 5 and 6.

Gallagher Premiership Round 8 WRap - By the Numbers

12 teams, all in England; 22-match, home-away schedule; semifinals June 12; Grand Final, June 20

Home Happy: Gloucester, Leicester, Sale, Saracens
Road Warriors: Exeter, Northampton


Saracens approaching positive table points count, though they’ve yet a steeply uphill pathway to playoffs. Exeter and Northampton at the front by a bonus-point plus ahead of a pack of six who’re within six match points of one another.
As in Top 14, there’ll be additions/omissions to rosters in Round 9 as replacements for those who may be conscripted for international, 6Nats release.

On the Weekend, By the Numbers

                14           for Sale 10, Ruan du Preez, on 4-and-2, as Sharks put down half dozen trys in the 48 - 10, 5-point rout of Harlequins at Salford City; last 2 five-pointers made 7 by du Preez relief, USA Eagles 10, AJ MacGinty;

                16           for Leicester 10, George Ford, on a triple of 4-1-1, a brace from 14, Jonny May, and the initial points in the 2nd minute by loosehead, Ellis Genge, made for the 31 - 18, 5-point victory for the Big Cats over Bristol at Welford Road; the Bears, once top of the table, have not won since road joy at Exeter second weekend in November... heading in the waaay wrong direction and that ursine crew is now out of the playoffs frame... at this time;

                4              trys by minute 30 and 10 groundings overall as Saracens continue their emergence from the Premiership dungeon with comprehensive, 62 - 5 win past Worcester at Barnett Copthall; double for Sarries flyer, Rotimi Segun in the happy;

                5              points for Gloucester in the 29 - 15, bonus-point, home victory over Bath at Kingsholm; all visitor points coming off the toe of 5-penalty strike standoff, Rhys Priestland;

                15           for Exeter 10, Gareth Steenson, perfect for the day on the conversion of all 6 trys by Los Jefes and travelers counted 5 table points after the 45 - 28 victory at Madejski over London Irish;

                             count midpoint cushion for Northampton, 14-10, before Saints blew away Wasps at the Ricoh, 45 - 28; 1 red ticket at ’65 and a yellow at ’70 no effect on the Holy Rollers as they scored the last points of the match at ’79 with only 13 players as 6’5”, 300 pound 11, Taqele Naiyaravoro, touched down late;        



upcoming Round 9

                Friday, 1.24.20:

                                Northampton Saints (28) v (13) London Irish at Franklin’s Gardens: should be a comfortable nickel for homeboys;

               
                Saturday, 1.25.20:

                                Bath (17) v (11) Leicester Tigers at the Recreation Ground: Big Cats take Bath?

                                Bristol Bears (18) v (23) Gloucester at Ashton Gate: Bears getting towards necessity and Cherry-and-Whites will like to exploit that;

                                Exeter Chiefs (29) v (22) Sale Sharks at Sandy Park: tough ask for travelers against frontrunners;

                                Worcester Warriors (17) v (12) Wasps at Sixways: visitors may overtake hosts on the chart this time;

                Sunday, 1.26.20:

                                Harlequins (12) v (24) Saracens at Twickers: could be the death knell for Corsairs extra time hopes


Guinness Pro14 Round 10 WRap
14 teams = 2 conferences of 7 in 5 countries on 2 continents playing home-away within the conference, plus non-conference teams once, plus 2 additional games for a 21-match schedule; Grand Final on June 20th at Cardiff City Stadium, with playoffs on the four weekends preceding that date
While Leinster runs hard and fast away from everyone, the competition takes a break and its eyes-on European Tournaments, Champions and Challenge Cups, for the next coupla; however the African sides take the opportunity to catch-up the rest of the table on games-played.
League play commences at Round 11 for everyone in the middle of February.

Home Happy: Dragons, Edinburgh, Leinster, Ulster, Zebre
Road Warriors: Glasgow, Scarlets

By the Numbers:

                11           for Scarlets 15, Leigh Halfpenny on three, first forty 3-pointers and the conversion of 9, Gareth Davies, 27th minute try against only a brace of converted touch downs and travelers got the 16 - 14 victory over Cardiff Blues; all winning points scored in the first half, while home team drew within 2 just past the hour mark;

                18           for Ulster 9, John Cooney, on a triple of 5 conversions, 1 penalty strike and 1 try as home side worked Munster at Ravenhill, 38 - 17, for 5 points;

                13           for Glasgow 10, Peter Horne, on 4 conversions and a touch down, while little brother 9, George, dotted a brace as road Warriors blasted Benetton in northern Italy, 38 - 19, never trailing in the rout;

                16           for Zebre 10, Carlos Canna, on 5-and-2 struck from his shoe and 5-try home team delivered the rude whatfor to Cheetahs, who’ve come off a fortnight holiday fattening, albeit in a flatly and unseemly manner; double for flyer, Charlie Walker, in the initial victory for Zebre of their 2019-20 campaign;

                68           minutes of competition at 15 against 14 after a 12th minute rouge for travelers, too large a pit from which to escape as Edinburgh rogered SoKings, 61 - 13, at Murrayfield; 14 for house 10, Jaco van der Walt on 7-of-9 conversions and the Scots are now in first position in Group B;

                12           counted within the final 10 minutes and Dragons returned from a handful down, 13-18, to ground Ospreys at Rodney Parade, 25 - 18;

                             try Leinster had the bonus-point by the 20th en route to a 54 - 7 thrashing of Connacht that sees the province as best in the country, best in the league by far; doubles for 8man, Max Deegan, and 13, Gary Ringrose;
               

Upcomes makeup Rounds 9 & 10
                 Saturday, 1.25.20:
                                Southern Kings (6) v (21) Cheetahs at Mytjalies-Mandela Bay:
                Saturday, 2.1.20:
                                                 Cheetahs (21) v (6) Southern Kings at Free State Stadium:


Top 14 Wrap - Round 13

Home Happy: Bordeaux Bègles, Montpellier, Racing 92, Stade Français, Toulon
Road Warriors: La Rochelle, Lyon,

 At the halfway mark in the 26-match season, Bordeaux have stretched their lead at the head of the class with Lyon keeping pace, and a pack of five snarlers are coming hard, two-plus bonus-point wins adrift the leaders. Racing and Toulouse are on the march with one loss apiece in their recent handful of contests, while Toulon have clawed their way back into contention by not losing in the league since second weekend in October.

Round 14 will go at the end of this month. There will be noticeable differences in the complexion of the XVs as international players will have been released for 6Nats duties. The weekend at the end of January could very well be titled, “The Round of Depth”.

On the Weekend, By the Numbers

                5              table points for Bordeaux though only 3 trys grounded by the home team in the 22 - 3, stymieing of Bayonne at Chaban-Delmas;

                19           for 2019 RWC-winner and Montpellier 10, Handre Pollard, on 2-and-5, while his oppo 10, 21 years old Brive standoff, Enzo Hervé, knocked 16 true the sticks on 1-and-4 from the floor; Pollard’s 77th-minute conversion of 21 years old  flyer, Thomas Darmon’s try had homeboys comfortably ahead, 29-16, but 10 points for the travelers in extra time nearly did the trick; result: 29 - 26, for Montpellier at the end of the day;

                24           for La Rochelle 10, Jules Plisson, on a triple of 5-3-1 and travelers secured a critical bonus-point road win at Stade du Hameau, 44 - 13, over Pau; 8-9-10, Victor Vito-Kirwan Barlow-Jules Plisson combination fluid right now;

                17           for Racing 10, Teddy Irbaren, on a 3-2-1 triple and home team rising at La Défense, 27 - 19, over Clermont; 14 for traveler 9, Grieg Laidlaw, on 1-and-4 from the floor;

                12           points, 12-0, the halftime advantage squandered by Agen as a 75th-minute conversion by travelers 10, Jonathan Wisniewski, meant 13 - 12 joy for visiting Lyon at the Armandie;

                2              trys for Stade Français blindside, Sekou Macalou, aided the home side’s first victory in the new year and their third straight outcome without a loss as they continue their trek from relegation position with 30 - 18 victory over Toulouse;

                            yellows tickets issued, 4 for Castres and 3 for homeys - 1 of them gone to red - and Toulon trounced their guests at Casino Night in the Mayol, 40 - 3; bonus-point try by the 36th minute and a brace of penalty trys awarded during the first forty in the fulsome fractivity;
               



Upcomes Round 14
               
                Saturday, 1.24.20:

                                Lyon (44) v (36) Toulon at Stade Gerland: numbers 2 and 3 on the chart get after the pill in a blockbuster beginning to the second half of the season;
                                Brive (25) v (23) Section Paloise at Stade Amédée-Domenech: each within hailing distance of the playoffs just now, victory will help that cause;

                                Castres (23) v (32) Racing 92 at Pierre Fabre: home team in danger of dropping into the abyss and must win, while visitors are charging now and would like this result;

                                La Rochelle (33) v (31) Montpellier at Marcel-Deflandre: Match-match-match-of-Weekend; winner for the playoffs frame;

                                Clermont (28) v (20) Stade Français at the Michelin: travelers on a roll, yet that may end here;

                                                               
                Sunday, 1.26.20:

                                Bayonne (23) v (18) Agen at Jean Dauger: lower end derby with dropspot as the prize perhaps;

                                Toulouse (30) v (47) Bordeaux Bègles at the Ernest-Wallon: time for home side to get going after their last pair of abject un-happies; visitors say, wot? M-o-W, M-o-W!