Toulouse fight back to secure draw
March 22, 2014
Toulouse recorded 19 unanswered points in their second half against Stade © Getty Images
Montpellier remain within sight of Top 14 leaders Clermont after earning a 22-8 victory at Oyonnax, the promoted club's second home loss of the 2013-14 campaign. It took third-place Montpellier up until the 67th minute to score the first try of the game through Timoci Nagusa, but Francois Trinh-Duc ensured that the visitors had full control of the fixture before that. The fly-half scored four penalties, a drop goal and conversion to finish with 17 points to his name.
Reigning champions Castres are another name in contention to finish in the top four, with Rory Kockott once again the player leading his side to triumph as they beat Brive 38-6. The fixture was marred by no less than six cards - three yellows coming before half-time, after which Damien Neveu and Dominiko Waqinburotu of Brive were shown red, along with Yannick Forrestier of the home side. Antonie Claasen's 19th-minute try was converted by Kockott, who would kick another three first-half penalties to give his team a 16-3 lead going in at the break. The two-man advantage that came in the second period would have its impact, as Remy Grosso, Geoffrey Palis and Paul Bonnefond each touched down in the second period for a bonus-point win.
Perpignan's 16-10 win over Biarritz wasn't quite as full of drama, with Welshman Aled Brew grabbing an 11th-minute try for the Basque visitors, Richard Haughton making it a good day for the Britons and answering with a score of his own for the hosts just nine minutes later. Though the scores were tied at 10 points apiece going in at half-time, James Hook rose to kick all six points of the second period, a vital three points for Perpignan as they look to move away from the bottom of the table.
Bordeaux came away from Bayonne happy thanks to a 23-22 win over their hosts, Pierre Bernard claiming 13 points from the tee to make the most of those tries scored by Darly Domvo and Louis-Benoit Madaule. Joe Rokocoko, Marvin O'Connor and Mathieu Ugalde crossed over for Bayonne, who looked capable of completing the comeback in periods, but ultimately had to settle for a losing bonus point, dropping to 12th in the table as a result of Perpignan's win.
Racing Metro kept themselves in the hunt for a play-off place with a 26-13 win at Grenoble despite being on the back foot for long periods and having to play out the closing minutes with 14 men. For Grenoble, a third straight defeat has left their own play-off hopes hanging by a thread.
Toulouse scored 19 unanswered second-half points to clinch a 27-27 draw from Stade Francais, having trailed 27-8 at half-time. Guy Noves' side were lacking in initiative and after 30 minutes, scrum-half Julien Dupuy was leading Stade's assault, scoring inside the ninth minute before Jules Plisson and Alexandre Flanquart further compounded the visitors' misfortune. Toulouse refused to accept their fate in the nation's capital, though, and the Stade de France played host to a sensational comeback, with Jano Vermaak and substitute Joe Tekori each crossing over for tries in the first 10 minutes of the second period. Following a scoreless half-hour, Yohan Montes scored in extra time to give the visiting outfit a lifeline, and Jean-Marc Doussain's resulting conversion ensured Toulouse left Paris with more than just a losing bonus point in tow.
Clermont extended their unbeaten home run to 74 matches thanks to a 22-16 win over Toulon on Friday evening, claiming first place in the Top 14 standings as a result. The match was a reversal in the outcome of last season's Heineken Cup final and heaps further misery upon Toulon head coach Bernard Laporte, whose 13-match touchline ban was increased to 16 games earlier in the day, guaranteeing he'll be absent for the remainder of the campaign. Napolioni Nalaga sprinted from the halfway line to score Clermont's only try of the game, with Aurelien Rougerie contributing to his side's build-up. Morgan Parra, now back from suspension, scored Clermont's other 17 points from the tee. Xavier Chiocci scored a short-range try for Toulon in the second half, but Freddie Michalak, filling in for Jonny Wilkinson, could only score three penalties and a conversion altogether, which proved insufficient. Wilkinson was introduced with 15 minutes remaining but was unable to turn the fixture in his team's favour. Parra's kicking ensured that his side's slight lead was maintained, and with the European calendar once again picking up in a fortnight's time, Clermont take a crucial step in their hunt for domestic silverware.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
The Scotland coach enters his first Six Nations with at least one familiar face to look to for inspiration - Joe Schmidt. He chats to Tom Hamilton
Italy coach Jacques Brunel spoke to ESPN ahead of his final season as Italy coach and tells of his desire to experiment and evolve
"There's no bull with me, I just tell it straight." Tom Hamilton talks to Warren Gatland in an exclusive interview
With the retirement of Adam Jones, Welsh rugby says goodbye to a great player and one of its biggest personalities too, writes Tom Hamilton