Toulon reclaim top spot
September 21, 2013
Toulon's Danie Rossouw powers into the Bayonne defence at the Stade Mayol © Getty Images
Toulon climbed back to the Top 14 summit with an 18-12 victory over Bayonne at the Stade Mayol on Saturday.
Bayonne, who entered the game on the back of three straight defeats, were on course for a notable upset at half-time thanks to two Stephen Brett penalties but Toulon were very much in touch thanks to a try from Josua Tuisova. Fly-half Jonny Wilkinson edged the hosts ahead shortly after the break but a yellow card for scrum-half Michael Claassens and another Brett penalty saw the lead change hands once again. But Toulon rallied with winger David Smith crossing for their second try that was converted by Wilkinson. A second yellow card - this time for lock Ali Williams - offered Bayonne hope and Brett brought his side to within three points only for Wilkinson to steady the home side's nerves with a match-clinching second penalty.
Stade Francais pulled level on point with Toulon with a narrow 16-15 victory over Oyonnax at Stade Charles Mathon. Three Julien Dupuy penalties gave Stade a 9-6 lead at the break but Benjamin Urdapilleta pulled his side level with his third penalty midway through the second half. A yellow card for Oyonnax replacement Hemani Paea proved pivotal with Stade's Hugo Bonneval crossing for the only try of the game in his absence. Dupuy's conversion was crucial with Urdapilleta's late penalty bringing his side to within a point but it was as close as they got.
Montpellier had previously occupied top spot following their crushing 43-3 victory over Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Yves du Manoir on Friday night. Morgan Parra opened the scoring for the vistors with a penalty in the second minute of the game but that was as good as it got for Clermont who entered the game on the back of five straight victories. Once again, scrum-half Jonathan Pelissie was the star of the show for Montpellier with a 33-point haul including two first half tries.
Fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc kept the scoreboard ticking over with his side's third try after the break and Clermont's day took a turn for the worse with a yellow card for winger Sitiveni Sivivatu just short of the hour mark. Trinh-Duc turned the screw with his second try and a yellow card for flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo did little to tarnish the hosts' impressive victory.
Toulouse pulled level on points with Montpellier with a 26-9 victory over Castres at the Stade Ernest-Wallon on Saturday. Fly-half Luke McAlister gave the hosts an early advantage with a penalty but the lead changed hands with two penalties from Castres centre Daniel Kirkpatrick. Toulouse hit back immediately with a try from scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain. McAlister added another penalty before the break and he took the game away from Castres in the second half with a further penalty and a try that he also converted. Replacement Yacouba Camara wrapped up the win with Toulouse's third try in the closing moments of the game.
Racing Metro remain hot on the leaders' heels following a 26-19 success against Bordeaux Begles at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir. Two tries from winger Marc Andreu and the boot of Jonathan Wisniewski put Racing on course for their third straight win although the visitors stayed in touch thanks to a try from Metuisela Talebula. Bordeaux-Begles' Pierre Bernard kept his side in the contest with three second half penalties but a try from replacement playmaker Jonathan Sexton and a further penalty saw the hosts home.
Elsewhere, Grenoble heaped woe on Biarritz with a 27-21 win at the Parc des Sports Aquilera despite suffering three yellow cards. First half tries from Matthew Nicolas and Dayna Edwards set the tone for the contest and Roland Bernard added another after the break with seven penalties from Biarritz scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili only enough for a losing bonus point.
In the day's other game, Brive scored a commanding 31-6 victory over Perpignan at the Stade Amédée-Domenech. Riaan Swanepoel grabbed a try in either half with Sisa Koyamaibole adding a third. Perpignan's indiscipline proved costly with the Catalans losing Watisone Votu, Dewald Duvenage and Paulica Ion to yellow cards with their only return two James Hook penalties.
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