Clermont maintain winning start
September 16, 2011
Luke McAlister races clear of the Biarritz defence © Getty Images
Stade FranÃ§ais 19 - 19 Montpellier Agen 24 - 18 Lyon Bayonne 12 - 12 Toulon Biarritz 18 - 23 Castres Clermont Auvergne 34 - 6 Bordeaux Begles Perpignan 12 - 9 Brive Biarritz 9 - 9 Agen Castres 35 - 10 Stade FranÃ§ais
Clermont Auvernge made it four wins from four games in this season's Top 14 with an impressive 22-11 victory over Racing Metro at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir on Saturday afternoon.
Racing had actually opened the scoring in Colombes, with goal-kicking fullback Gaetan Germain landing a penalty just eight minutes in but Clermont responded with a converted try towards the end of the first quarter through former Scarlets centre Regan King.
Germain landed a second penalty, on 25 minutes, but Clermont fly-half Brock James replied in kind just before half-time to leave four points between the two sides at the interval. James struck again 11 minutes into the second half but Racing drew to within one score when No.8 Jacques Cronje crashed over moments after the restart. However, Germain failed to convert, meaning the hosts still trailed by two points.
It mattered not, though, as James then took control of the contest, slotting over two drop goals in the space of seven minutes before the hour mark and then adding a penalty in the final quarter as Clermont ultimately cruised to their fourth successive win this term.
Reigning champions Toulouse had temporarily risen to the summit with a 24-0 victory over Biarritz at the Stade Ernest Wallon the night before.
A penalty from Kiwi recruit Luke McAlister was the only score in an uninspiring opening half as Toulouse went into the break 3-0 up. But after the break they showed far greater attacking quality. Firstly flanker Yannick Nyanga crossed in the 52nd minute with McAlister landing the conversion and then winger Timoci Matanavou touched down minutes later. Again the former Blues playmaker converted.
With 20 minutes remaining McAlister, who combined brilliantly with scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain, surged over the try line himself before converting his own try to cap a personal haul of 14 points. The final try snared a bonus point for Toulouse and ensured they went above Castres at the head of the table.
Castres continued their positive start to the season with a 30-11 victory over Agen at the Stade Pierre-Antoine. Castres raced into a 22-3 lead by half time with tries from centre Romain Cabannes, No.8 Chris Masoe and winger Marc Andreu. Fullback Romain Teulet converted two of tries having already landed a penalty for the hosts. Valentin Courrent scored the only points of the first half for Agen with a penalty.
Courrent doubled his side's tally as they scored the first points of the second period but Teulet immediately countered with a penalty of his own to maintain the hosts comfortable cushion. The game remained a 25-6 until the final ten minutes of the game when Agen winger Benjamin Petre touched down for the visitors only for Castres winger Pierre-Gilles Lakafia to coast in for the score.
Philippe Saint Andre watched his Toulon side beat Bordeaux 27-16 in his last game in charge of the team. Former France boss Bernard Laporte will take over from Saint Andre, who is set to take charge of the national team following the Rugby World Cup.
Toulon led 9-3 at half-time after fly-half Julien Dumora kicked three penalties to a single penalty from his opposite number Gerard Fraser. Benjamin Lapeyre weighed in with another penalty for Toulon just after the break as they extended their lead.
Dumora took up the kicking duties again and landed a further four penalties to give Toulon a 24-9 advantage, replacement Camille Lopez kicking two penalties for the hosts. And that cushion proved significant as hooker Fabien Rofes ran in a try, which was converted by Lopez, with five minutes remaining. Lapeyre's late penalty added extra gloss to Saint Andre's final victory.
Stade Francais claimed their second win of the season as they beat Bayonne 33-18 at the Stade Charlety in Paris, despite having two men sent to the sin bin during the game.
Winger Francis Fainifo and hooker Aled de Malmanche were shown yellow midway through either half but their brief departures did not derail Stade's progress as they ran in three tries. Before his sin binning in the 31st minute, Fainifo set Stade on the way with a try in the opening minute of the game. Former France scrum-half Julien Dupuy converted and was also on target ten minutes later after flanker Perre Rabadan had touched down.
Former Munster fullback Paul Warwick, who was being employed at fly-half for his new club, grabbed Stade's third try in the 22nd minute as the hosts established a 24-7 lead. Further second half penalties from Dupuy and one from Warwick ensured that Stade claimed the victory despite tries for Bayonne from wingers Marvin O'Connor and Garth Ziegler.
Perpignan kept pace with the leaders with a 19-12 win over Montpellier at the Amie Giral. Montpellier had move to within three points, at 12-9, with 20 minutes remaining but winger Adrien Plante crossed for the hosts and fullback Jerome Porical landed the conversion to end hopes of an upset. Porical had earlier landed four penalties for the hosts while Montpellier fly-half Raphael Lagarde scored all 12 points for the visitors.
Fullback Regis Lespinas scored all Lyon's points as they overcame Brive 15-12 at the Stade Amedee-Domenech. Lespinas scored two tries within as many minutes in the first half, converting one of them, to set the visitors on the way to victory. Four penalties from Brive fly-half Mathieu Belie levelled the scores early in the second half. But a penalty from Lespinas in the 67th minute was enough to give Lyon victory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch
Tom Hamilton reports back from the launch of the Guinness PRO12 where there is a renewed sense of optimism with all of the off-field changes to the league
So much for the great Australian revival, writes Greg Growden. It now has the potential of going off the rails after the capitulation at Eden Park
The latest Week in Pictures takes in photographs from the Rugby Championship, the Top 14 and the southern hemisphere domestic scene