LIVE STREAM & PREVIEW: France’s Semi-Finals Have Old Champs as Underdogs


Posted by Freedom Maitrel on Friday, June 5, 2015

Sunday June 7, 2 PM (Stade George Carcassonne d’Aix-en-Provence)

argonautes mvp Argonautes d’Aix-en-Provence                 (8-2)


 Black Panthers de Thonon-les-Bains            (6-4)

Match broadcast live Sunday, April 7, 2 PM on Panthers TV

France - Argonautes v. Thonon

Who would have thought that the back to back champions in France would face the newly-promoted upstarts in the semifinals? With an extremely well-engineered regular season (8 wins, 2 losses), the Argonautes of Aix-en-Provence proved they have indeed earned their way back among the Elite.

As for the Black Panthers, 2015 was treacherous and it was not until the last day that the defending champions found themselves in the playoffs which the Nice Dauphins almost caused them to miss. But head coach Larry Legault’s team was able to find the resources to qualify for the semifinals, their fourth in a row since 2012. Will they be able to as much punch a ticket for the final in Charléty?

Based on their two clashes this season, which saw the Panthers dominate the Argonautes at home (41-13) but then drop a shoot out in the second, a 37-34 defeat, this one is hard to predict. And while the Argonautes had a better regular season, the counters will be reset to zero for the playoffs.

Nevertheless, the Argonautes have reason to be optimistic – they have a major advantage in that the semi-final will be played at the Stade George Carcassonne in Aix-en-Provence. They have only lost once at home this season and that was to the undefeated Cougars.

Another advantage in favor of Provence is their offense. Head coach Kenneth Suhl’s team averaged 36 points per game, tops in the French league in 2015.

However, the Black Panthers were not far behind scoring an average of 27 points per game, good for third in France.  Also, this semi-final may come down to whose defense will play the best and who can handle the searing heat expected. The temperature could get as high as 34°C in Aix-en-Provence at kick off time (2p).

Match-ups to watch

France - semi final pics

Milton Knox Jr. & Stephen Yepmo (RBs Black Panthers) V. Jesse Kirstatter & Alexandre Gallo (LBs Argonauts)

At Aix-en-Provence, Milton Knox Jr. and Stephen Yepmo will have the difficult task of leading the ground attack of the Black Panthers. On paper, this duo should have an advantage as they combined for 1,650 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns in the regular season. But linebackers Jesse Kirstatter and Alexandre Gallo may well be the best linebacking tandem in the league.  With 74 and 62 solo tackles respectively on the entire season, and Le Gallo and Kirstatter have dominated their positions in 2015.  These two have excelled in the art of creating turnovers so the Black Panthers duo are fully warned.

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