Clermont and Castres tied at the top
October 21, 2011
Kini Murimurivalu scored one of Clermont's five tries © Getty Images
Clermont Auvergne moved to the summit of the Top 14 Orange table with a resounding 39-3 win over struggling Perpignan at the Stade Aime Giral on Friday night.
The Catalans were humiliated at their fortress by Clermont, who ran in five tries to temporarily establish a four-point cushion at the top. Fullback Jean-Marcel Buttin crossed for the opener just before the 20-minute mark, with new signing Nathan Hines and Fiji international Kini Murimurivalu also capitalising before the break.
Perpignan were denied a response after the restart as a maul was held up over the line and they failed to recover. Murimurivalu turned creator for Clermont's fourth, scored by replacement Alexandre Lapandry, and the reliable Brock James came off the bench to lay on a final try at the death, his cross-kick snaffled by Noa Nakaitaci. Perpignan's only points came from the boot of Jerome Porical on seven minutes, but the fullback was wide with several simple attempts before being withdrawn with 11 minutes remaining.
Castres had the opportunity to retake the top spot if they managed a bonus-point win away at Montpellier on Saturday but only just edged a hard-fought game 21-16 to draw level with Clermont on 30 points.
It was the home side who took the initiative with a try in the opening minute of the match through rampaging Georgian flanker Mamuka Gorgodze and led 10-9 at the break with Beneoit Paillaugue notching a conversion and two penalties. Castres' contribution to the scoreboard came through the boot of scrum-half Rory Kockott.
And it was the boot of Kockott which eventually led Castres to the win with him adding a further 12 points from penalties in the second 40. Try as they might, last year's Top 14 runners-up Montpellier tried to get a foothold in the game but could only muster a further two penalties through Paillaugue and Bustos Moyana.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Top 14 champions Toulouse demolished the Bordeaux Begles 56-6 at home.
Despite only leading 11-6 at half-time with scrum-half Nicolas Bezy crossing, Toulouse turned the screw in the second 40 running in a further six tries with French fly-half Lionel Beauxis converting all six scores. Flying winger Timoci Matanavou ran in a 14 minute hat-trick and was joined on the scoreboard by Yannick Nyanga, Clement Poitrenaud and Yves Donguy. Bezy also added nine points from the tee to round off an impressive victory against a beleaguered Bordeaux side to tie up third spot for the home side.
Ominously for the rest of the Top 14, Toulouse were without Luke McAlister and still have the likes of Gary Botha, Luke Burgess and Gurthro Steenkamp to arrive along with their French contingent.
Bernard Laporte's Toulon are in fourth after seeing off Racing Metro 16-9 in Paris.
In a low-scoring and uninspiring affair, Jonathan Wisniewski's boot put the hosts in front with two penalties but Toulon's Jonny Wilkinson slotted two of his own to draw the game level by the half-hour mark. And a Luke Rooney try - converted by Wilkinson - put the visitors in front at the break leading 13-6.
Neither side managed to get a foothold in the match in the second-half with just three points from both sides the sole contribution to the scoreboard as Toulon returned south with four points in the bag.
Stade Francais' slow start to the season continued as they were easily despatched by Agen - who started the day just one place above the Parisian outfit - with the home side running out 37-13.
Agen were in firm control at the break leading 23-6 with Stade's points coming from the boot of former Leicester scrum-half Julien Dupuy. Agen fly-half Conrad Bernard contributed three first-half penalties and they also crossed for two tries thanks to Adri Badenhorst and Saimoni Vaka.
However, the second-half descended into a ill-disciplined affair with five players being shown yellow cards. Stade prop Stanley Wright and Agen hooker Jalil Narjissi were dismissed in the 46th minute after a skirmish with Agen flanker Adri Badenhorst following five minutes later. Stade faced the last 10 or so minutes with 13 men on the field after replacements David Attoub and Gerhard Mostert were sent to the sin-bin but by this stage, the game was effectively out of their reach. Former Munster back Paul Warwick crossed in the 52nd minute for Stade but Maxime Machenaud re-asserted Agen's lead eight minutes later with a late penalty try securing the bonus point for the home side.
Meanwhile Biarritz's poor start to the season showed no signs of abating as they were held to a 15-15 draw by fellow strugglers Lyon at home.
It was match of nip-and-tuck as Mosese Ratuvou gave the away side the lead after just five minutes, with Regis Lespinas adding the extras, but Biarritz struck back in the 18th minute through Dany Haylett-Petty. Despite having flying winger Taku Ngwenya in their ranks, they failed to add to their try count in the first 40 a Marcelo Bosch their only other points to show for the first 40. And Lespinas drew the game level in the dying seconds of the first-half to make it all square the break.
Try as they might, Biarritz failed to run riot in the second-half and instead it was the away side who went ahead through blindside Vincent Clement. Lock Manuel Carizza drew the game level with a score of his own but it was the last points of the match as the two sides had to settle for a draw which leaves Biarritz at the foot of the table.
Brive moved into sixth on Saturday with a commanding 30-10 win over Bayonne.
In a dire first-half, Brive went into the break 7-0 up thanks to a try from lock Arnaud Mela with Julien Carminati adding the extras. But the second-half saw more running rugby with hooker Virgile Lacombe crossing in the 52nd minute with Marvin O'Connor striking back 14 minutes later for Bayonne as the away side threatened a comeback. But it proved to be in vain as Brive secured the four-try bonus point through replacements Retief Uys and former Bath winger Jacques Boussuge.
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