Toulouse topple Racing in thriller
September 9, 2011
Brent Russell races clear to score for Clermont Auvergne against Bordeaux © 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
Reigning champions Toulouse ended Racing Metro's perfect start to the new Top 14 season with a dramatic 41-36 victory at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday afternoon.
The hosts were eight points down with just nine minutes to go when fly-half Luke McAlister reduced their arrears with a penalty. Yannick Jauzion then dived over to score to send the home fans wild and McAlister converted the try before landing a late penalty to put the seal on a remarkable come-from-behind victory which left Racing, who had claimed bonus point-victories in their opening two games, utterly shell-shocked.
Racing had made a blistering start in the south west of France, with winger Sireli Bobo touching down after just three minutes of play. However, they only managed three penalties from Jonathan Wisniewski in the remainder of the half as they went in 25-16 adrift at the interval following Toulouse tries from Yannick Nyanga, Jauzion and, right on half-time, Clement Poitrenaud.
However, tries from wing Virimi Vakatawa and No.8 Jacques Cronje saw them game swing back in Racing's favour. There was to be an almighty sting in the tail, though, as McAlister, who finished with 21 points to his name, and Jauzion combined to turn the match on its head.
While Racing faltered, Clermont Auvergne maintained their 100 per cent start to the season with a 34-6 victory over newly-promoted Bordeaux on the Friday night.
Following victories at home to Lyon and away to Toulon, Clermont cantered to a straightforward victory in Clermont-Ferrand. Former Springbok winger Brent Russell scored his side's first try in the 32nd minute which was promptly followed by another try from opposite wing Seru Noa Nakaitaci. Brock James converted both scores to put the hosts 20-6 up at the break after two earlier penalties from the Australian fly-half.
Two penalties from Bordeaux fly-half Camille Lopez in either half failed to spark a comeback from the visitors and Clermont secured their bonus point with second-half tries from lock Loic Jacquet and replacement Kevin Senio. Both of which were converted by James.
Agen held off a second-half comeback from Lyon to claim their second victory of the season with a 24-18 triumph at the Stade Armandie. Remy Grosso's try in the 64th minute had levelled up the scores but replacement Valentin Courrent landed two penalty goals to secure the victory for second-placed Agen.
Courrent had already slotted two penalties after replacing starting fly-half Conrad Barnard, who himself notched a drop-goal and three penalties. Lyon's other scores came through a early try by Franck Romanet, two penalties from fly-half Xavier Sadourny and one three-pointer from former Wasps fullback Mark Van Gisbergen.
There was little rest bite for under pressure Toulon coach Philippe Saint Andre as his side drew 12-12 with Bayonne at the Stade Jean Dauger. Saint Andre, who is due to take up the reigns of the national team following the World Cup, came under fire from owner Mourad Boudjellal following their defeat to Clermont last time out.
And his side again failed to spark with their only points coming from the boot of Julien Dumora. Still Bayonne were similarly toothless as they relied on four penalties from fly-half Benjamin Boyet to gain a draw.
Biarritz's sluggish start to the season without key players such as Dimitri Yachvili and Imanol Harinordoquy continued as they slumped to a 23-18 defeat at home to Castres. The teams were locked at 12-12 as they went into the break with Biarritz fly-half Julien Peyrelongue landing four penalties and Castres fullback Romain Teulet kicking two penalties and a drop-goal along while fly-half Remy Tales also slotted a drop-goal.
However Tales' try early in the second half and a subsequent penalty from Teulet gave the visitors a cushion, which proved plump enough to survive two further penalties from Peyrelongue. Teulet had the final word with a penalty to take his haul up to 15 points.
Montpellier claimed a 19-19 draw against Stade Francais after a strong second-half comeback at the Stade Charlety. Stade led 16-6 early in the second period following three penalties and a conversion from former France scrum-half Julien Dupuy and a 35th minute touch down from centre Jonathan Danty.
However Montpellier fly-half Raphael Lagarde slotted two penalties to add to his two in the first half and, after Dupuy had landed another penalty for the hosts, replacement Eric Escande crossed to take the visitors within two. And Lagarde kept his nerve to add the conversion and claim only their second point of the season.
Perpignan moved up to fifth in the table after a 12-9 victory over Brive at the Aime Giral. Twice Perpignan fullback Jerome Porical put the hosts ahead with early penalties only for his opposite number Mathieu Belie and fullback Julien Caminati to erase the lead.
The hosts failed to take advantage when Brive No.8 Julien Ledevedec was shown a yellow card in the 18th minute, but two second-penalties from Porical, in contract to a solitary effort from Belie, secured the tight win for Perpignan.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Huw Richards profiles French forward Walter Spanghero, a man who even rugby's hard men thought was a tough nut
"To be part of the Commonwealth Games, I'd wear anything. I'd wear a clown suit." Tom Hamilton talks to Scotland's Sean Lamont
Scrum Sevens looks back at how rugby has fared in both the early Olympics and the past four Commonwealth Games
"Cheika's been phenomenal. He gives you an incredible level of mental strength." Tom Hamilton talks to Waratahs star Jacques Potgieter