Toulouse cement top spot
January 2, 2011
Castres' Ibrahim Diarra tackles Toulouse's Vincent Clerc during their clash at the Stade Municipal © Getty Images
Toulouse continue to set the Top 14 pace following a 23-16 victory over Castres at the Stade Municipal on Sunday.
Tries from fullback Maxime Medard and flanker Thierry Dusautoir and 13 points from the boot of fly-half David Skrela propelled the hosts to their 10th victory of the campaign that leaves them six points clear of second-placed Montpellier. A try from winger Marc Andreu along with two penalties and a conversion from fullback Romain Teulet ensured the visitors went into the break on level terms and they took the lead early in the second half but were unable to hold onto their advantage.
Jonny Wilkinson kicked 18 points and Rudi Wulf scored two tries as Toulon beat Biarritz 38-26 at the Stade Mayol. The England fly-half converted tries from Wulf, Jeremy Sinzelle and Gabirieli Lovobalavu as well as landing three penalties and a drop-goal for the hosts. Former England fullback Iain Balshaw scored an early 4th minute try for Biarritz but Toulon overhauled their opponents despite a further Biarritz try from Taku Ngwenya. Julien Peyrelongue, Dimitri Yachvili and Damien Traille shared the kicking points for Biarritz.
Racing Metro jumped up to third in the Top 14 as they beat second-placed Montpellier 28-16 in Paris. Two converted tries from centre Albert Vulivuli and winger Mirco Bergamasco in the space of three minutes just before half time did the damage for Montpellier as they slipped from 6-3 down to a 20-3 deficit. Vulivuli's opening effort was Racing's first try at home in the Top 14 since September. Montpellier fly-half Martin Bustos Moyana had kicked a penalty in response to Jonathan Wisniewski's two shots at goal.
The Racing fly-half added another three-pointer after the break before Sireli Bobo crossed for a third try for the hosts. Montpellier flanker Mamuka Gorgodze went over for a 62nd minute try with centre Santiago Fernandez converting as well as adding another two penalties. But Racing held on for the win puts them level on points in the table with Montpellier.
Clermont Auvergne maintained their presence near the top of the table with a 34-9 victory over bottom side Bourgoin. Centre Gavin Williams scored a try, two penalties and four conversions in a 19-point haul for Clermont. Forwards Thomas Domingo, Sione Lauaki and winger Julien Malzieu all went over for the hosts at the Stade Marcel Michelin. Fly-half Alberto di Bernardo kicked three penalties for Bourgoin as they slumped to their 13th defeat of the campaign.
Struggling Agen bounced back from defeat to Toulouse last time out to beat Bayonne 21-3 at Stade Armandie. Three penalties from Conrad Barnard gave the hosts a 9-0 half-time lead before they accelerated away in the second half. Winger Saimoni Vaka crossed early in the 50th minute and fellow winger Romain Edmond Samuel went over late on with Barnard converting. Bayonne, who beat Toulon last time out, could only manage three points through the boot of scrum-half Julien Audy.
Stade Francais's troubled season continued as they drew 26-26 with second bottom La Rochelle at Stade Marcel Deflandre. La Rochelle No.8 Thomas Soucaze scored two tries while fullback Benjamin Dambielle contributed 16 points with both conversions and four penalties. Stade scrum-half kicked three penalties while Englishman Ollie Smith and fly-half Lionel Beauxis went over for the visitors. Beauxis also kicked a drop-goal as the sides ended level.
Perpignan recovered from defeat to Clermont Auvergne by beating Brive 23-16 at the Aime Giral stadium. Fly-half Nicolas Laharrague kicked two penalties and converted tries from wing Julien Candelon and No.8 Damien Chouly for Perpignan while fullback Jerome Porical added another penalty late on. Brive fullback Alexis Palisson landed three penalties and converted Ronnie Cooke's try for the visitors.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton