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Henson on target in Toulon victory
ESPNscrum Staff
April 2, 2011

Gavin Henson made a try-scoring debut for Toulon as they cruised to a 38-10 victory over Stade Francais at the Stade Mayol on Saturday.

The former Wales centre crossed in the corner late on after snaffling a kick ahead, having earlier laid on his side's second try as a sharp midfield break was followed up by Christian Loamanu.

Georgian tight-head Davit Kubriashvili burrowed over from close range to score Toulon's first on 16 minutes, with both sides just restored to 15 men after an ugly altercation resulted in second-rows Kris Chesney and Pascal Pape spending 10 minutes in the sin-bin.

Stade Francais bit back after Kubriashvili's try with an intercept from centre Guillaume Bousses, but the boot of Jonny Wilkinson, who finished with 18 points, kept them at bay. No.8 Joe van Niekerk rounded off a break by Gabirieli Lovobalavu to score Toulon's third after the break, with Henson drawing a line under proceedings with the final try.

On Friday, Toulouse strengthened their grip at the head of the table with a hard-fought 25-24 victory over Perpignan at the Stade Aime Giral.

Tries from flankers Jean Bouilhou and Yannick Nyanga and the kicking exploits of scrum-half Frederic Michalak and fly-half David Skrela saw Toulouse bounce back from their defeat to title rivals Racing Metro last weekend and see off a determined Perpignan side. Hooker Guilhem Guirado and winger Adrien Plante crossed for the Catalans with fullback Jerome Porical adding 14 points but it was not enough to extend their five-game winning run.

The boot dominated much of the opening period before Bouilhou struck with the first try of the game on the half hour mark. But Perpignan rallied with a try from Guirado keeping them in touch at break before Plante pounced to give them the lead early in the second half.

Skrela then chipped away at their lead before Nyanga notched the game's crucial try shortly after entering the contest as a replacement. Porical slotted his fourth penalty before the end but it proved only enough for a losing bonus point.

At the Stade Jean Dauger on Saturday, Bayonne took a bite out of Racing Metro's play-off bid with a 26-16 victory. Wingers Yoann Huget and Sam Gerber bagged tries for the home side, with Benjamin Boyet on good form with the boot to land four penalties and a brace of conversions.

Replacement Mikaele Tuugahala crossed on 80 minutes for the visitors to give the scoreline a more favourable look, but the big-spending Parisians had previously only managed three penalties from the reliable Jonathan Wisniewski. They remain five points off the leaders.

Fullback Martin Bustos Moyana finished with 27 points as Montpellier continued their charge for a knockout berth with a 46-27 victory over basement side Bourgoin.

The 25-year-old bagged two tries, three penalties and four conversions in his own personal haul, with Santiago Fernandez and French international halfbacks Francois Trinh-Duc and Julien Tomas also breaching the home defence. Bourgoin scrapped but tries through second-rowers Coenie Basson and Camille Levast and a late penalty try were of little consequence, leaving them rooted to the bottom of the table.

Castres remain fourth in spite of the fact that they slumped to a surprise 18-16 defeat at the hands of struggling Agen in Saturday's evening encounter.

After a try-less first half in which Conrad Barnard and Romain Teulet both landed two penalties apiece, the latter put Castres ahead when he dived eight minutes after the restart for a try which Pierre Bernard converted.

However, Agen then turned the game on its head with two tries in the space of three minutes shortly before the hour-mark, through replacement Maxime Machenaud and winger Saimoni Vaka. Barnard only managed to convert the second of those scores and that allowed Teulet to draw Castres to within two points with 16 minutes to go with his third penalty of the night. However, Barnard replied with a drop goal to seal victory for Agen, forcing Castres to make do with a losing bonus point.

Clermont Auvergne climbed above Biarritz in the standings and into fifth place by routing the Basques 41-13 at the Stade Marcel Michelin.

Clermont tore into Biarritz right from the first whistle and racked up 22 unanswered points before the midway point of the opening period. Veteran No.8 Elvis Vermeulen crashed over just over 60 seconds after the kick-off for a try which was promptly converted by Morgan Parra. The France scrum-half then landed a penalty before a rampant Clermont bagged two tries, through centre Marius Joubert and winger Wesley Fofana, in the space of three minutes at the tail end of the opening quarter.

A shell-shocked Biarritz managed to hold Clermont scoreless for the remainder of the half and gave themselves a glimmer of hope when they engineered a try for flanker Magnus Lund just after the interval. However, Parra replied in kind for Clermont to put the final outcome beyond all doubt. Replacement front-row Vincent Debaty and lock Loic Jacquet then put an added gloss on the scoreline, even though it was Biarritz who had the final say through winger Taku Ngwenya.

Brive scored a huge win at the wrong end of the table, beating La Rochelle 26-9 at the Stade Amedee Domenech. Scrum-half Mathieu Belie kicked three penalties for the home side, but they did their real damage with tries either side of half-time. Hooker Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux crashed over in the first-half, with replacement Benoit Cabello increasing their advantage with five points just before the hour mark.

France winger Alexis Palisson converted his own try on 77 minutes to take the result beyond any doubt, with La Rochelle only able to muster a drop-goal from fly-half Remy Tales and a couple of penalties to Benjamin Dambielle.

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