Toulouse extend unbeaten run
February 17, 2012
Biarritz's Imanol Harinordoquy hauls Perpignan's down Nicolas Mas © Getty Images
Toulouse extended their unbeaten run at the summit of the Top 14 to 11 matches with a 21-10 victory over Agen at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday.
The hosts' impressive record looked in jeopardy in the opening stages as Agen established a 10-3 lead after just 12 minutes with a try from Junior Pelesasa and penalty and conversion from Maxime Machenaud. Two penalties from Lionel Beauxis kept Toulouse in touch before a try from winger Yves Donguy, converted by the fly-half, put the hosts ahead just before half-time.
Beauxis nudged Toulouse further ahead with a penalty after the break and Donguy grabbed his second try in the 56th minute as the hosts went on to maintain their lead at the top of the standings.
Also on Saturday, Bayonne claimed a dramatic 22-22 draw against second-placed Clermont Auverge at the Stade Jean Dauger. The hosts trailed 22-15 with two minutes remaining but a late try from replacement Sam Gerber, converted by fellow substitute Benjamin Boyet, snatched a draw for the strugglers.
The former France international, David Skrela, scored 14 points for Clermont as he ran in a try as well as kicking three penalties, while Morgan Parra, Anthony Floch and Brock James all landed kicks at goal. However three penalties from Cedric Garcia, one from Cedric Heymans and a drop goal from Jacques-Louis Potgieter meant Bayonne were always within striking distance before the thrilling finale.
At the Stade de France, Toulon produced a late show to snatch a 19-19 draw with Stade Francais.
Matt Giteau - forced to fly-half following an injury to Jonny Wilkinson - slotted the conversion to Steffon Armitage's 80th-minute try to secure a share of the spoils for the visitors, who had trailed to a well-taken try by France lock Pascal Pape and four penalties from Julien Dupuy. Wilkinson kicked two penalties before his departure, with Giteau and Benjamin Lapeyre also slotting three-pointers to round out the scoring.
Castres came from behind to beat Brive 15-13 at the Stade Amedee-Domenech despite three yellow cards. An upset appeared to be on the cards when Brive went into the break 8-3 up thanks to a try from Poutasi Luafutu and a penalty from Julien Caminati. Castres could only muster a penalty from Romain Teulet as they were forced to play 20 minutes of the opening 40 with 14 men following yellows to Ibrahim Diarra and former Sharks scrum-half Rory Kockott.
Castres responded in the early stages of the second-half with two drop-goals from Pierre Bernard and penalty from Teulet. Bernard then took on the penalty duties and duly struck a 65th minute effort to safeguard the win despite a late try from Olivier Caisso.
Racing Metro ended a run of four matches without a win with a convincing 33-22 victory over Lyon at the Matmut Stadium. The visitors surged into a 21-3 lead by half time after tries from No.8 Jacques Cronje and winger Sireli Bobo and three penalties and a conversion from Juan Martin Hernandez.
Lyon threatened to force their way back into the match when former South Africa scrum-half Ricky Januarie scooted over in the 48th minute. Hernandez responded with a try for Racing six minutes later to open up a 26-8 lead. The hosts again rallied and scored two tries in two minutes with centre Vinaya Wakanivuga and winger Franck Romanet both touching down. Regis Lespinas converted both scores but Bobo grabbed his second try of the match in the last minute to seal the victory for Racing.
Montpellier continued their pursuit of the top four with a 30-26 victory over Bordeaux Begles. Bordeaux led 26-23 with ten minutes remaining thanks to two tries from winger Blair Connor and four penalties and two conversions from fly-half Camille Lopez. But Montpellier - who kept pace with Bordeaux through tries from Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and Timoci Nagusa along with the boot of scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue - stole the win a try from No.8 Alex Tulou five minutes before the finale whistle.
Scrum-half Kevin Boulogne scored 20 points as Perpignan overcame fellow Top 14 strugglers Biarritz 25-6 at the Aime Giral on Friday night.
Boulogne scored two tries as well as landing four penalties for the hosts as they recorded only their fifth win of the season. The No.9 gave Perpignan a 9-0 lead in the opening 30 minutes with three penalties before two penalties from Jean Pascal Barraque pegged them back at the break.
Soon after the break Boulogne extended Perpignan's lead while fly-half Gavin Hume added a drop goal. The scrum-half then crossed for the opening try of the game in the 58th minute before scooting over again in the 64th minute to seal the victory.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
In the wake of another perfect November series, Monday Maul talks to NZRU CEO Steve Tew about the constant demand for perfection
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton