Top 14 Orange
Toulouse leave it late against Racing
January 27, 2012
Toulouse's Gillian Galan crosses for the game-winning try in his side's clash with Racing in Saint Denis © Getty Images
Toulouse solidified their position at the summit of the Top 14 standings with a dramatic victory over Racing Metro at the Stade de France on Saturday afternoon.
Fly-half Lionel Beauxis landed a penalty and a brace of drop goals to help the reigning champions into a 9-0 lead at the break. However, Racing got off the mark when scrum-half Sebastien Descons slotted a penalty two minutes into the second period and the same player was on hand to convert after replacement prop Andrea Lo Cicero had driven his way over the whitewash on 51 minutes.
Former All Black Luke McAlister slotted a penalty shortly after his introduction to edge Toulouse back in front but Decons responded in kind to make it 13-12 to Racing with just 13 minutes to go. Toulouse refused to go away, though, and they nicked a fine win when Gillian Galan crossed for a converted try five minutes before the end of a bruising contest.
Toulouse's lead at the top of the table remains six points, with second-placed Clermont Auvergne having battled their way to a 17-10 victory over Bordeaux Begles at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Clermont opened up an eight-point lead by the end of the first quarter, with fly-half Brock James kicking an early penalty before fullback Jean-Marcel Buttin touched down just before the midway point of the first half.
Bordeaux came storming back, though, and went in two points to the good at the break after a penalty from Bruce Reihana and a converted try from replacement Hikairo Forbes just before half-time. However, James nudged Clermont back in front and then David Skrela came off the bench to secure a hard-earned win for the visitors with a penalty and a drop goal.
James Hook played a full game as Perpignan lost 17-9 to Brive earlier in the day, just over a week before the fly-half is set to start for Wales against Ireland in Dublin. Hook came through the Top 14 clash at Stade Amedee-Domenech, which resulted in Brive moving above Perpignan in the table.
The visitors had established a 9-0 lead in the opening 20 minutes thanks to three penalties from fullback Jerome Porical. But the hosts went on to score 17 unanswered points with tries from fullback Scott Spedding and flanker Simon Azoulai, and seven points from the boot of Julien Caminati.
Toulon produced a stirring second-half showing as they romped to a bonus point-clinching 50-10 victory over 14-man Bayonne at the Stade Felix-Mayol.
The hosts only led 15-3 at the interval, with fly-half Jonny Wilkinson having outscored opposite number Benjamin Boyet by five penalties to one during a half which saw Bayonne winger Yoann Huget sent off for clashing with Toulon centre Mathieu Bastareaud, who has sent to the sin bin.
Toulon stretched their advantage when Steffon Armitage crashed over on 53 minutes but Bayonne posted a swift reply through Boyet. However, Toulon finally made their numerical advantage pay in the final quarter, with Geoffroy Messina, Armitage again, Luke Rooney and Alexis Palisson all crossing as they ultimately coasted home.
Biarritz failed to follow up their thrilling Heineken Cup win over the Ospreys last weekend as they lost 29-23 to high-flyers Castres at the Stade Pierre-Antoine.
The visitors, who thrashed the Welsh region 36-5, had led 14-10 early in the second half after Dimitri Yachvili converted tries from Benoit Guyot and Pelu Taele-Payihi. But Castres hit back with winger Romain Martial grabbing his second try of the match and fullback Romain Teulet finishing the match with 16 points while Rory Kockott landed the last penalty. Biarritz could only manage two further penalties from Yachvili and a drop-goal from Damien Traille.
Lyon hauled themselves off the bottom of the table with a hard-fought 19-11 victory over Agen at the Matmut Stadium.
After goal-kicking scrum-half Maxime Machenaud had helped the visitors into an early 6-3 advantage, Lyon took control of the game when Fijian No.8 Sisa Koyamaibole flopped over just before the half-hour mark for a try which was converted by fullback Romain Loursac.
The latter then knocked over two quickfire penalties early in the second half before adding a third with seven minutes to go to put the game beyond Agen. However, the visitors did have a chance to at least salvage a losing bonus point with just over a minute to play but Silvere Tian's late try went unconverted.
Montpellier shrugged off their recent Heineken Cup woe with a 38-6 victory over Stade Francais in their Top 14 clash at the Stade Yves du Manoir on Friday night.
Winger Martin Bustos Moyano was the star of the show with a 26-point haul that propelled the hosts to their third successive league victory that lifts them back into the play-off places. Further tries from centre Paul Bosch and winger Timoci Nagusa ensured a valuable bonus point with replacement Benoit Paillaugue rounding out the scoring with a last-minute conversion.
Stade Francais, who returned to domestic matters having booked a place in this season's Amlin Challenge Cup quarter-finals, took a first half lead through the boot of scrum-half Julien Dupuy but the visitors had little answer to Montpellier's second half onslaught with a second penalty after the break all they could muster.
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