Castres stunned by Montpellier
January 10, 2010
Biarritz centre Damien Traille is tackled by Stade Francais' James Haskell during their clash at the Stade de France © Getty Images
The upsets continued in the latest round of Top 14 action with lowly Montpellier handing leaders Castres a rare defeat that allowed Clermont Auvergne to leap-frog them at the top of the table.
Montpellier, fresh from claiming the scalp of Stade Francais ten days ago, claimed a 15-0 victory over Castres at Stade Yves-du-Manoir. The boot of fullback Federico Todeschini carried the hosts to victory with four first half penalties with his side's final score coming from fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc.
As a result, Clermont Auvergne's narrow 16-15 victory over title rivals Toulouse at Stade Ernest Wallon saw the climb to the top of the table on points difference. The hosts took control of the contest with an early try from No.8 Shaun Sowerby but a penalty from Clermont centre Seremaia Bai soon reduced the arrears. Toulouse fly-half Jean Baptiste Elissalde extended the home side's lead on the quarter hour with a drop goal before Bai slotted one of his own.
Toulouse winger Vincent Clerc grabbed his side's second try midway through the half, that was converted by Elissalde, but Bai kept Clermont in touch with his second penalty before the break. Clermont fly-half Tasesa Lavea crossed for a crucial try in the second half and replacement scrum-half Morgan Parra's conversion proved to be the match-winning score.
The action kicked off on Friday where Perpignan beat Racing Metro in our Game of the Week to climb to third place in the table.
Elsewhere on Saturday, Stade Francais beat fellow play-off hopefuls Biarritz 25-15 in front of a bumper crowd at the Stade de France in Paris. After a surprise loss to Montpellier and a dour 6-6 draw with Montauban in recent rounds, the colourful Parisians conjured some much-needed momentum with 20 points from the boot of fullback Lionel Beauxis seeing them home.
Toulon bounced back from their hammering at the hands of Clermont Auvergne last time out with an 18-7 victory over Montauban at the Stade Félix-Mayol. The visitors stole the initiative with Fijian winger Vilimoni Delasau grabbing an early try that was converted by fly-half Cedric Rosalen. But back came Toulon with a try from scrum-half Fabien Cibray and second after the break from lock Jocelino Suta. Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson chipped in with a conversion, penalty and a drop goal.
Basement side Albi were edged out by Brive who followed up their shock win over Perpignan with a 17-15 win at the Stade Municipal. A penalty try for Brive was the only difference between the two sides in the first half but tries from Albi No.8 Vincent Clement and scrum-half Kevin Boulogne put the hosts on course for a rare win before English centre Jamie Noon responded for Brive. Boulogne edged his side ahead once more only to see Brive fullback Alexis Palisson steal the game.
Bourgoin's clash with Bayonne was postponed after falling victim to the cold snap to have swept across Europe.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin