Toulouse re-take top spot
September 30, 2011
Biarritz lock Erik Lund is hauled down during his side's win in Bordeaux © Getty Images
Toulouse returned to the summit of the French Top 14 with a 22-9 victory over Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Ernest Wallon.
The hosts established a 15-3 lead by the break after centre Yann David burst over in the third minute and winger Timoci Matanavou scored his side's second try in the last minute of the first half. Fly-half Luke McAlister converted Matanavou's try and also added a further penalty as Toulouse to control of the match.
Clermont fly-half Brock James landed one penalty in the first half and then slotted a further two in the early stages of the second period reduce Toulouse's lead. But Toulouse fullback Clement Poitrenaud sliced through the Clermont defence to dampen the visitors' hopes of making a comeback. McAlister again converted and when replacement Alexandre Lapandry was sinbinned with seven minutes to go, their faint hopes were extinguished.
The victory was Toulouse's fifth of the season and saw them rise back to the top of the table after Castres temporarily moved to the summit by defeating Lyon 18-16 at the Stade Vuillermet on Friday night.
The two sides were locked together at nine points apiece at the interval, with Regis Lespinas and Pierre Bernard having matched each other kick for kick.
Bernard landed two more penalties before the hour to edge Castres six points clear but they lost replacement hooker Mathieu Bonello to the sin bin on 64 minutes and Lyon wasted little time in exploiting their numerical advantage, sending Coenie Basson over for the game's only try less than a minute later. Lespinas added the extras and Lyon were a point up with 14 minutes to play.
However, Kockott, who had taken over the goal-kicking duties from Bernard, then nicked it for Castres when he slotted a penalty with five minutes to go.
Despite the losing point, Lyon drop to the bottom as Biarritz ended a run of five straight defeats by coming from eight points down to beat Bordeaux Begles 13-11 at the Stade Chaban Delmas.
Bordeaux led 6-0 at the break courtesy of a drop goal from fullback Camille Lopez and a penalty from fly-half Gerard Fraser. No.10 Jean Pascal Barraque got Biarritz off the mark with a penalty shortly after the restart but the Basques appeared to be in real trouble when centre Felix Le Bourhis dived over on 55 minutes.
However, Biarritz rallied, earning themselves a penalty try which resulted in Bordeaux replacement prop Ricky Davies being shown a yellow card. Justin Purll and Jerome Thion then joined Davies in the bin after an outbreak of handbags before Barraque edged the visitors into the lead with a 65th-minute penalty. Bordeaux, when restored to their full complement, pressed hard in the closing stages but to no avail, and Biarritz held on to claim an overdue win.
Elsewhere, Perpignan remain fourth in the table after suffering a shock 19-12 defeat at home to Agen.
The visitors bossed the opening period at the Stade Aime Giral, taking the lead 11 minutes in with a try from centre Junior Pelesasa. Conrad Barnard Bernard converted and then added a penalty as Agen racked up 10 unanswered points by the end of the first quarter.
Fullback Jerome Porical got Perpignan up and running with a penalty but Bernard replied in kind before the hosts had blindside flanker Gregory le Corvec sent off right on the stroke of half-time. Even with reduced numbers Perpignan kept battling but they failed to make the most of the sin-binning of Agen's Ueleni Fono on 57 minutes and were ultimately forced to settle for a losing bonus point, which came courtesy of a late penalty from Porical, his fourth of the evening.
Toulon could have climbed above Perpignan in the standings but they slumped to a 19-6 loss to struggling Montpellier at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir.
Fullback Martin Bustos Moyana kicked Montpellier into a 9-3 advantage at the break, with Toulon's sole riposte a penalty from fly-half Andre Pretorius. The latter reduced the visitors' arrears with another three-pointer shortly after the break but Bustos Moyana hit back for Montpellier, who then sealed their first win of the season when Timoci Nagusa crossed for a converted try on 57 minutes.
Racing Metro also slipped up, Pierre Berbizier's men going down 27-23 to Bayonne at the Stade Jean Dauger.
Racing scored the only try of the opening period through centre Josh Matavesi but they still went in 12-10 down at the break after three penalties from Benjamin Boyet and Cedric Garcia drop goal. Fly-half Boyet kept the scoreboard ticking over for Bayonne during a third quarter which ended with Racing's Jone Qovu Nailiko earning himself a yellow card to leave the visitors in dire straits.
Credit to Racing, though, a penalty from Gaetan Germain kept them in touch and they drew to within a point when Jonathan Wisniewski converted Virimi Vakatawa's 78th-minute try. However, their hopes of a remarkable comeback were dashed by Boyet, who landed his eighth penalty of the game right at the death.
Goal-kicking scrum-half Julie Dupuy was the star of the show, scoring all of Stade Francais' points as they bounced back from their defeat at Toulon last weekend by overcoming Brive 28-17 at the Stade Charlety.
Dupuy opened the scoring just four minutes in but Stan Wright was yellow-carded moments later and Brive silenced the Parisian crowd with a brace of quick-fire tries from Petrus Gherardus Hauman and Guillaume Namy, both of which were converted by Mathieu Belie.
Former Leicester Tigers No.9 Dupuy responded with a penalty midway through the first half before Belie was sin-binned on 24 minutes. Dupuy converted the resulting kick on goal and then added two more penalties before the break to make it 15-14 to the home side.
Stade controlled the second period and Dupuy sealed victory for Michael Cheika's side when he crossed on 67 minutes, just seconds after Brive flanker Antonie Claassen had seen yellow.
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