Toulouse and Clermont roll on
January 8, 2012
Toulouse's Timoci Matavanou drives forward against Lyon © Getty Images
Toulouse kept their charge going at the summit of the Top 14 with a 51-10 victory over Lyon on Saturday, with Clermont Auvergne pegging them back once again 24 hours later thanks to a hard-fought win over Toulon.
The reigning French champions ran in six tries against the league's bottom side, with France international Maxime Medard grabbing two and fly-half Lionel Beauxis converting all six scores as well as adding three penalties.
Winger Medard touched down for his first in the eighth minute after Beauxis opened the scoring with a second-minute penalty. Lyon held their own for the next twenty minutes including a ten-minute spell with Jean Sousa in the sin-bin. But former France flanker Yannick Nyanga grabbed the champions' second try as the lock returned from the bin.
Winger Franck Romanet pulled a try back for the visitors, with centre Lee Thomas adding the conversion as well as a penalty before the break. But Beauxis landed two penalties to give the hosts a 23-10 lead at half time.
No.8 Shaun Sowerby powered over in the 49th minute for the hosts' third try and in the final ten minutes Toulouse cut loose with three late tries. First replacement Yves Donguy dotted down, then fellow substitute Florian Fritz scored a minute later and Medard claimed his second of the afternoon in the 79th minute.
Clermont Auvergne snuck home 25-19 at home to Toulon, who led at the break and took some stopping.
The visitors were up 16-12 thanks to the only try of the first-half, from Benjamin Lapeyre. The fullback capitalised on a catalogue of errors by the Clermont defence to cross, with Jonny Wilkinson converting and adding three penalties before half-time.
Aurelien Rougerie and Jean-Charles Orioli saw yellow for an off-the-ball spat on 37 minutes, while Clermont responded to Toulon's efforts with four Morgan Parra penalties. The France scrum-half made it five on 55 minutes - while Toulon were missing David Smith to the sin-bin - but Wilkinson slotted a difficult chance four minutes later to re-establish some breathing room.
Rougerie atoned for his earlier indiscretions with a try after 65 minutes, the Clermont skipper sprinting in after fine work from replacement fly-half Brock James and winger Julien Malzieu. Parra added the conversion and a sixth penalty to make sure of the points, with Clermont forced to fight off a fierce late charge on their line.
Castres slipped up with a 38-21 defeat to Stade Francais as the hosts ran in six tries to move up to sixth in the league. Winger Julien Arias touched down twice for the hosts while fellow winger Paul Sackey, second-row Pascal Pape, flanker Pierre Rabadan and No.8 Sergio Parisse all scored. Stade scrum-half Julien Dupuy slotted four conversions.
Having trailed 28-0 after just twenty minutes, Castres did show some fighting spirit as they scored tries through Seremaia Bai, Romain Martial and Thierry Lacrampe - all of which were converted by Romain Teulet. But the visitors came up short and lost ground on the Top 14 frontrunners.
James Hook landed a 70th minute penalty to secure a 14-14 draw for Perpignan against Racing Metro at the Aime Giral. The Wales international, starting at fly-half for the French side, held his nerve with ten minutes remaining to slot his thrid penalty of the afternoon after Juan Imhoff's try had put the visitors ahead. Winger Farid Sid scored in the first minute of the match to put Perpignan ahead but Racing hit back with three penalties from Jonathan Wisniewski.
Bordeaux Begles held off a strong comeback from Bayonne to secure a 27-20 victory at Stade Jean Dauger. Bordeaux led 27-6 with 30 minutes to go but yellow cards to Daniel Leo and Silviu Florea interupted their momentum and allowed the visitors to fight back to within seven points in the next 20 minutes. However the hosts failed to conjure a triumphant finale.
Two tries from hooker Ole Avei and one from winger Thierry Brana, along with three conversions and two penalties from Bruce Reihana, had put Bordeaux in a commanding position before Bayonne hit back. Gerber and Aretz Iguiniz crossed for the hosts while Benjamin Boyet kicked a conversion and two penalties and Clement Otazo slotted the second two-pointer.
Montpellier recorded a 23-9 victory over Brive at Stade Amedee-Domenech, despite losing three players to the sin-bin during the match. The visitors lost forwards Giorgi Jgenti and Alex Tulou in the early stages but still went into the break 13-6 up after winger Yoan Audrin crossed and Martin Bustos Moyano landed the conversion to add to his earlier two penalties. Brive kept in touch with two penalties from Julien Caminati.
The Brive winger slotted another penalty after the break but No.8 Tulou atoned for his earlier yellow card with a try in the 58th minute which was converted by Bustos Moyano as Montpellier secured the win.
Biarritz continued their recent revival with a 15-6 victory over Agen at the Stade Armandie on Friday night to climb off the bottom of the Top 14 table.
The Basques followed up last weekend's 25-6 win against Toulon with just their fourth win of the campaign. A penalty from scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili and a drop goal from fly-half Marcelo Bosch gave the visitors a narrow 6-3 advantage at the break after Agen playmaker Conrad Barnard had given his side the lead in the opening minute.
Yachvili edged his side further ahead with two more penalties in the second half before Barnard offered the hosts hope of a late turnaround only for his rival to set the seal on the win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
In the wake of another perfect November series, Monday Maul talks to NZRU CEO Steve Tew about the constant demand for perfection
The latest Week in Pictures takes in all the action from the weekend when rugby united behind Samoa
The Wallabies showed flair in Dublin, but they still have a way to go if they are to do more than make up the numbers at the World Cup, writes Greg Growden
England broke their losing streak, but this was not them clawing their way back among the best, writes Tom Hamilton