Toulouse open their account with victory over Lyon
September 4, 2011
Toulouse centre Florian Fritz spots a gap in the Lyon defence © Getty Images
Lyon 9 - 19 Toulouse Bordeaux Begles 18 - 6 Bayonne Toulon 0 - 17 Clermont Auvergne Biarritz 9 - 9 Agen Castres 35 - 10 Stade Français Montpellier 12 - 28 Brive Racing Metro 47 - 23 Perpignan
Defending champions Toulouse notched their first win of the new Top 14 season with a 19-9 victory over Lyon at the Stade Gerland.
Fly-half Luke McAlister put the visitors in control with two penalties before winger Yves Donguy crossed for what would be the only try of the game just past the half hour. McAlister's conversion cemented their adavantage and saw them go into the break 13-3 ahead with Lyon, whose points came from the boot of fullback Mark van Gisbergen, down to 14-men following the sin-binning of flanker Eugene N'Zi. Van Gisbergen chipped away at Toulouse's lead with two second half penalties but on each occasion saw McAlister cancel his effort out with one of his own. As a result Toulouse bounced back from their opening day defeat to Bayonne to claim a valuable away win while Lyon remain winless since their return to French rugby's top flight.
Racing Metro followed up their fine opening-day victory over Montpellier with an even more impressive 47-23 hammering of Perpignan in Colombes on Saturday afternoon. Jonathan Wisniewski opened the scoring with a third-minute penalty but three successful strikes on goal from the ever deadly Jerome Porical saw Perpignan open up a six-point lead by the midway point of the first half.
However, Wisniewski reduced the home side's arrears with another penalty before Racing took command of the contest with a brace of tries from centre Henry Chavancy shortly before the break. Wisniewski converted both, and sandwiched a penalty in between for good measure, as Racing went in 23-9 to the good at the interval. Wisniewski increased his and Racing's points haul when he crossed for a try of his own four minutes into the second period which he converted himself. Virimi Vakatawa followed his fly-half over three minutes later as Racing surged 28 points clear.
Perpignan did manage to rally, putting a far more respectable slant on the scoreline with tries from Rudi Coetzee and Gavin Hume, either side of another three-pointer from Wisniewski. However, Racing, fittingly, had the final say, with replacement front-row Thomas Bianchin flopping over with five minutes to go for the bonus point-clinching score.
Clermont Auvergne are also two from two after the champions from the season before last recorded a surprisingly straightforward 17-0 victory over Toulon at the Stade Felix Mayol later in the day.
After a predictably tight and tense opening to a clash between two of the biggest sides in France, Brock James broke the deadlock with a penalty on 23 minutes. The veteran Clermont fly-half added another ten minutes later before the visitors' scored what would prove the game's only try just before the interval, through fullback Jean-Marcel Buttin. Toulon did not look remotely like scoring let alone turning the game around in the second period and Clermont put the game beyond their toothless hosts with two more sweet swings of James' boot.
Castres bounced back from their humbling at the hands of Perpignan last weekend by hammering the evidently still fragile Stade Francais 35-10 at the Stade Pierre Antoine.
Stade began to unravel almost right from kick-off, with lock Gerhard Mostert seeing yellow after just over 60 seconds of action. Castres fullback Romain Teulet knocked over two penalties while Stade were down to 14 before the hosts pulled clear with two converted tries in the space of five minutes midway through the first half from wingers Mathieu Nicolas and Marc Andreu.
Former Munster ace Paul Warwick finally got Stade off the mark when he slotted a penalty on 33 minutes but Teulet replied on kind with the last kick of the half to put 20 points between the two sides at the break. Andreu crossed for his second try of the afternoon, on 56 minutes, as Castres pulled further clear and although Stade did manage a consolation try through Alexander Rokobaro, the hosts claimed a deserved bonus point when No.8 Chris Masoe bounded through to score with five minutes to go.
Montpellier are surprisingly pointless after two games, with last season's runners-up suffering a dismal 28-12 defeat at home to Brive. Brive raced into an early nine-point lead courtesy of three penalties from fullback Julien Caminati, their cause aided by the sin-binning of Montpellier lock Aliki Fakate nine minutes in, but the boot of Raphael Lagarde ensured that the hosts reached the break on level terms.
Caminati and Lagarde traded a couple more penalties at the start of the second half before the former struck twice more before the end of the third quarter to put six points between the sides. Brive then silenced the Stade Yves-du-Manoir with two tries in the space of three minutes through wing duo Clement Marienval and Jacques Boussuges and held on quite comfortably thereafter to claim a terrific win on the road.
Agen maintained their good start to the season by nicking a 9-9 draw in their clash with Biarritz at the Parc des Sports Aguilera. The first half was a turgid affair which finished with the two sides locked together at six points apiece, with Biarritz fly-half Julien Peyrelongue having replied to two penalties from opposite number Conrad Bernard with a brace of his own.
Depressingly, the second half was even more devoid of meaningful action and for a long time it appeared that Peyrelongue's third penalty of the game, which arrived at the end of the third quarter, was going to be enough to win the game for the Basques. However, Valentin Courrent snatched a share of the spoils for Agen when he landed a penalty with seven minutes remaining.
Newly-promoted Bordeaux Begles tasted victory in the Top 14 for the first time as they saw off Bayonne 18-6 at the Stade Chaban Delmas on Saturday evening. Outclassed by Stade Francais in Paris on the opening day, Bordeaux proved far more competitive on home soil, taking the lead just two minutes in with a penalty from fly-half Gerard Fraser.
Scrum-half Cedric Garcia replied soon after for Bayonne but team-mate Dwayne Haare saw yellow on 21 minutes and Garcia landed the resulting penalty to edge the home side back into lead. The Bordeaux fly-half struck again moments later but Garcia hit back whilst Bayonne were still playing with reduced numbers to leave the game delicately balanced at the break. However, Fraser landed three more penalties as Bordeaux ultimately saw the game out with little discomfort, Bayonne's hopes of turning the game around effectively ended by the sin-binning of lock Troy Flavell eight minutes before the end.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
He teed up Obolensky's try, fought in Burma and played cricket for Warwickshire - we Rewind to look at the story of Peter Cranmer
With the World Cup just a year away, Tom Hamilton picks out five matches to ensure you have tickets for
Ahead of November's USA-All Blacks match, America's ESPN Magazine explains rugby to its readers who may not be familiar with the game
Tom Hamilton talks to World Cup-winning captain John Smit about life after rugby, his fears over the South African exodus and the World Cup