Top 14 - Round 16 Review
Montpellier comeback rocks Stade
December 30, 2009
Montpellier lock Mamuka Gorgodze crashes into the Stade defence © Getty Images
Toulouse 22 - 11 Perpignan Bayonne 19 - 23 Racing Metro Biarritz 23 - 6 Bourgoin-Jallieu Castres 30 - 7 Montauban Clermont Auvergne 52 - 10 Brive Toulon 41 - 13 Albi Montpellier 25 - 23 Stade FranÃ§ais
Montpellier hauled themselves clear of the Top 14 relegation zone and further dented Stade Francais' playoff bid by coming from behind to win 25-23 at the Stade Yves du Manoir.
A brace of tries early in the second-half from outside-centre Geoffroy Messina gave Stade control after a keenly-contested first-half ended poised at 6-6. Stade pivot Lionel Beauxis had responded to a Federico Todeschini penalty with a drop-goal, but it was the Montpellier fullback who took the spoils with a superb haul from the kicking tee.
The Argentina international kept his side in touch by converting replacement hooker Joan Caudullo's 63rd minute try and he kept his cool to slot two late penalties to win the game and take his personal tally to 20 points.
Toulouse followed up their strong European form by beating reigning champions Perpignan 22-11 at the Stade Ernest Wallon in our Game of the Week.
Leaders Castres beat Montauban at the Stade Pierre Antoine, although they failed to register a bonus-point in a 30-7 win that was tight until a late burst swung the game towards the home side.
Montauban wing Shannon Paku's try cancelled out an early Romain Teulet penalty, but the Castres fullback was on target twice more to secure a narrow 9-7 lead at the break. The score remained the same until the 68th minute when former All Black flanker Chris Masoe powered over for Castres, with his breakthrough proving pivotal.
Joe Tekori extended the hosts' lead and Yohan Audrin's late score brought them close to a bonus-point, but time was against them.
Brive's difficult season continued with a 52-10 hammering at the hands of Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
Luciano Orqera scored all of Brive's points with a late try and a penalty in a difficult evening when they were unable to match the pace and power of their hosts, who scored seven tries to keep the pressure on Castres.
Brent Russell opened their account on nine minutes and the former Springbok centre was joined on the scoresheet by wing Julien Malzieu, fresh from inking a new deal to remain at the club until 2012. Kevin Senio and Wesley Fofana added tries before half-time and there was no let up from Vern Cotter's men after the break.
Hooker Mario Ledesma and prop Lionel Faure celebrated rare scores and Samoan centre Gavin Williams completed the rout on the final whistle. Brock James landed all of the conversions and a drop-goal to pile the misery on Brive.
Racing Metro maintained their strong push by scraping past struggling Bayonne 23-19 at the Stade Jean Dauger. Fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski enjoyed an eventful return to the side after an injury absence, slotting four penalties as well as spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin in the second-half.
Flanker Jone Qovu Naliko scored the first try of the game for Racing Metro, who survived Wisniewski's sin-binning by added six points from the boot of replacement Fabien Fortassin.
Winger Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet hit back for Bayonne, who were without new French cap Benjamin Fall due to a broken nose, but a last-gasp penalty from Wisniewski opened up a telling four-point gap for the visitors.
Biarritz piled added pressure on Bourgoin by beating them 23-6 at the Parc des Sports Aguilera, ending a nightmarish run in the league in the process.
Fly-half Valentin Courrent and lock Pelu Taele scored tries for the Basque side, who produced two fiery performances to hammer the Dragons in back-to-back Heineken Cup fixtures yet have struggled on the domestic stage. Benjamin Boyet clipped over two penalties for the visitors, who remain mired in a relegation scrap.
Jonny Wilkinson kicked 21 points as Toulon brushed Albi aside 41-13 at the Stade Mayol.
Wilkinson landed five first-half penalties to go with a try to Christian Loamanu, although Albi had struck first with a try to fullback Benjamin Lapeyre after only six minutes. A comfortable 22-8 half-time scoreline was improved by Juan Martin Fernandez Lobbe's try early in the second-half before Albi bit back with a try from replacement prop Ronny Sua. A late Toulon burst brought further tries for former All Black prop Saimone Taumoepeau and replacement Fontunuupule Auelua.
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