Top 14 Orange - Round 19
Toulouse crushed by Clermont
March 3, 2012
David Skrela kicked Clermont to victory over Toulouse © Getty Images
Clermont Auvergne closed the gap at the summit of the Top 14 with a comprehensive 35-5 win over Toulouse at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Saturday.
Former France fly-half David Skrela did a number on the reigning champions - his former employers - kicking seven penalties and the conversion to Gonzalo Canale's second-half try.
Les Jaunards led 12-5 at the break after Skrela's first four efforts from the tee canceled out a try to Toulouse winger Aurelien Imperial. He picked up where he left off in the second-half, kicking two penalties before Canale crashed over in the 57th minute.
His seventh kick sailed over after the hour mark, with his replacement - Brock James - coming on to convert Brent Russell's try at the death.
Jonny Wilkinson kicked 14 points to help Toulon to a 19-6 win over Montpellier at the Stade Mayol on Friday evening.
The game came to life in the second-half with a penalty try late on helping Toulon towards their win. The two teams were locked at the break with the scoreboard showing 3-3. Wilkinson opened the scoring after 14 minutes only for Benoit Paillaugue to knock over three points of his own after 35 minutes.
Wilkinson kept the scoreboard ticking over in the second 40 with Toulon taking the lead 6-3 despite being down to 14 men for the first 10 minutes of the second-half following Christophe Samson's sin-binning. The former England fly-half knocked over another six points to stretch the lead to nine points.
And in the 70th minute, Toulon secured the victory with a penalty try allowing Wilkinson an easy conversion. A late Martin Bustos Moyano penalty - when Montpellier were down to 14 men - proved to be scant consolation for the away side.
France scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili proved his fitness by scoring 25 points as Biarritz thrashed Bordeaux Begles 38-13 on Saturday. The 31-year-old was left out of France's squad to face Ireland in the Six Nations on Sunday as he continues his comeback from a back injury. And he responded by scoring two tries and kicking three conversions and three penalties to help Biarritz to their fifth win of the season.
Biarritz established a 17-3 lead by half thanks to a try, two conversions and a penalty from Yachvili, along with a try from hooker Arnaud Heguy. Camille Lopez scored Bordeaux's only points of the first half with a 39th minute penalty.
Yachvili and Lopez exchanged penalties early in the second half before Biarritz scored 15 points in seven minutes with the France scrum-half grabbing another try, conversion and penalty. Taku Ngwenya also touched down. Bordeaux responded with a try from Louis-Benoit Madaule, which was converted by Lopez. But Biarritz had the final word with a penalty from Benoit Baby.
Wales international James Hook came through 80 minutes but could not prevent Perpignan from losing their 12th match of the season as they were defeated 22-17 by Agen. Hook, who missed Wales' triumph over England at Twickenham last weekend with illness, started at fly-half for Perpignan and kicked two penalties and a conversion seven days before Wales continue their Six Nations Grand Slam bid against Italy.
The 26-year-old, though, was outgunned by Conrad Barnard, who finished the match with 17 points. The fly-half converted Junior Pelesasa's 13th minute try and landed four second-half penalties to guide Agen to victory. A second-half try from Damien Chouly and a drop-goal from David Mele accounted for Perpignan's other points.
Racing Metro put the brakes on Bayonne's recent resurgence thanks to a late Sireli Bobo try, the Paris side pulling through 22-21 at the Stade Olympique Yves du Manoir.
Until the giant Fijian's 70th minute intervention the game had been a tale of the kickers, with Bayonne's Jacques-Louis Potgieter and Cedric Garcia battling Gaetan Germain and Italy wing Mauro Bergamasco, who will hope to be back on international duty next weekend in Cardiff.
Wales scrum-half Mike Phillips started for Bayonne, who included All Blacks wing Joe Rokocoko in the unfamiliar position of outside centre. Four Potgieter penalties gave the visitors a first-half lead, with Germain kicking six points either side of a drop-goal from Juan Martin Hernandez.
The pattern was similar after the break, where Potgieter gave Bayonne an 18-12 lead before Bobo struck, with Bergamasco converting and adding a penalty to put the home side clear of a late kick by Garcia.
Brive were able to put clear water between themselves and the relegation dogfight by beating Stade Francais 25-9 at the Stade Amedee Domenech.
Flanker Thibault Dubarry and replacement hooker Iuri Natriashvili bagged tries for the home side, while Julien Caminati and Mathieu Belie shared five penalties. The visitors managed only three penalties - from fly-half Felipe Contepomi - despite fielding a strong side.
England lock Tom Palmer was joined on the field by Samoa fullback Paul Williams, Pumas centre Martin Rodriguez, former Wallaby David Lyons and All Blacks hooker Aled de Malmanche, but a callow performance leaves them stranded in mid-table.
In Saturday's late game, Castres played out a dour 6-6 draw with basement boys Lyon at the Stade Pierre Antoine. The visitors remain rooted to the bottom of the table, four points adrift of Bayonne and Biarritz, their primary rivals. Castres, meanwhile, missed out on a chance to close the gap on Toulon in third.
The last hour of the match was scoreless, with the final action coming after 21 minutes when Lyon fullback Regis Lespinas landed the second of his penalties to level the scores. His opposite number, Romain Teulet, slotted two of his own for the hosts.
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