Toulouse end Toulon's winning run
September 29, 2012
Clermont's Brock James delights at a match-winning drop goal against Stade Francais © Getty Images
Toulouse handed Top 14 leaders Toulon their first defeat of the season with an impressive 32-9 victory at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday night.
In a replay of last season's title-decider, Kiwi fly-half Luke McAlister proved to be the star of the show with a 27-point haul including a try, six penalties and two conversions. The hosts powered to a 19-3 lead at the break against a much-changed Toulon side with Bernard Laporte opting to rest a number of his front line players completely or start them on the bench.
Toulon fly-half Frederic Michalak notched his second penalty soon after the re-start but his side's hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow with a yellow card for Wales international prop Gethin Jenkins. Toulon only conceded another McAlister penalty in his absence and Michalak cancelled that score out just short of the hour mark. But it would be as close as they would get with McAlister adding another penalty before lock Yoann Maestri crossed for a late try that was also converted by his fly-half.
A dramatic last-gasp drop goal from fly-half Brock James propelled Clermont Auvergne to a narrow 28-25 victory over Stade Francais in their clash at the Stade Marcel Michelin on Friday night that means Les Jaunards now top the table. Two tries from winger Waisea Vuidravuwalu and another from fly-half Paul Warwick put Stade Francais firmly in control of the contest with the boot of Jerome Filol helping them to a 22-10 lead at half-time.
Clermont had threatened to go toe-to-toe with the visitors with an early try of their own from loose-head Thomas Domingo but they were chasing the game when the sides emerged after the break. Scrum-half Morgan Parra chipped away at the deficit with three penalties before James levelled things up with a drop goal. Stade stopped the rot with a penalty from replacement Jérôme Porical but his effort was cancelled out by Parra with just two minutes remaining. The stage was then set for James to seal the show and extend his side's staggering unbeaten run at home to 47 games.
Elsewhere on Saturday, former England international Shontayne Hape grabbed the only try of the game as Montpellier edged out Castres 19-12 at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir while newcomers Grenoble continued their impressive start to the campaign with a 27-13 home win against Racing Metro with a brace from centre Nigel Hunt and another try from flanker Henry Vanderglass carrying them to victory.
Perpignan returned to winning ways with a 15-6 victory over Mont-de-Marsan at the Stade Aime Giral with all their points coming courtesy of Wales international James Hook. In the day's other game, Agen made it three wins in-a-row with a 19-15 victory over Bordeaux-Begles with another Welshman in centre Jamie Robinson grabbing the only try of the game for the hosts.
In the weekend's final game, a last-minute penalty from fly-half Benjamin Boyet gave strugglers Bayonne a dramatic 16-15 victory at Biarritz. A first-half try from centre Thibault Lacroix gave the visitors the advantage at the break but the game would build to a stunning crescendo that saw the lead change hands four times in the last ten minutes.
Biairritz took a 12-10 lead on 70 minutes thanks to a penalty from replacement Julien Peyrelongue only for Boyet to edge his side ahead once more from the kicking tee soon after. That score was cancelled out by Peyrelongue less than a minute later but there was still time for Boyet to steal the game for Bayonne with the last act of the game.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column
The latest Monday Maul looks at the hectic final weekend, the Lions hangover, the superb Mike Brown and the 'selfie'
"At the crux of this England team is a lack of fear, they are not afraid to throw playbooks out of the window." Tom Hamilton reports from Twickenham
"These little deft touches, the nuances O'Driscoll has perfected are what Ireland will miss most." Tom Hamilton on Brian O'Driscoll's final Test in Dublin