Toulon thrash Montpellier
December 21, 2013
Juan Smith goes over for Toulon's first try © Getty Images
Toulon carried over their momentum from Europe and recorded a crushing 43-10 victory over Montpellier at Stade Mayol.
The European champions were twice made to work hard by Exeter in the Heineken Cup in the last two weeks but prevailed on both occasions, but looked like they were in no mood for another nervy match on return to domestic duty. Montpellier were a tough outfit to break down and only allowed flanker Juan Smith to sneak through four minutes before half-time as the hosts went in 19-3 up thanks to the kicking of Jonny Wilkinson and Matt Giteau.
But the visitors lost Wynand Olivier to the sin-bin not long before the break and Toulon took advantage, with David Smith waiting just two minutes to cross after a turn of pace down the wing in the second half. Jean-Charles Orioli and Drew Mitchell then grabbed a try apiece in quick succession to guarantee the bonus point.
A solitary Mamuka Gorgodze try for Montpellier was little more than a footnote as Toulon ran out comfortable winners as Delon Armitage added another try in added time.
Clermont solidified their position at the top of the Top 14 with a comprehensive 35-6 win over Biarritz.
They had to wait until the second half to hit their best after the scores were 3-3 at half-time before the flood gates opened, as Julien Malzieu's 50th-minute try opened the floodgates.
Gerhard Vosloo and Regan King scored twice in quick succession after the hour mark before Thierry Lacrampe secured the bonus point in the closing stages of the game.
Jonathan Sexton's last-minute kick earned Racing Metro a share of the spoils in a cagey 9-9 draw against Brive.
Winter conditions were far from ideal for both sides and this contributed to the low-scoring nature of the game. All the points were limited to the boots of Gaetan Germain and Sexton, with Brive leading three times through the match.
It looked like they had done enough for victory but Ireland fly-half Sexton had other ideas as he booted his side level at the death.
Reigning champions Castres scored two tries in either half as they beat Perpignan 37-13, while Oyonnax edged past Bayonne with a narrow 9-6 win at Stade Charles Mathon to move out of the relegation zone at their opponent's expense.
Julien Arias looks to hand off Grenoble fly-half Blair Stewart © Getty Images
Geoffrey Doumayrou crossed the whitewash on 25 minutes to open the scoring for the hosts but the floodgates did not open as it looked like they might, and the Parisian side held a narrow 8-3 lead at half-time.
It was a cagey second period but eventually Stade got the decisive try 11 minutes from time as fly-half Meyer Bosman touched down, before fellow South African Morne Steyn added three late penalties to put gloss on the win.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd
"Some people have it from day one and Brian did." Tom Hamilton talks to the two players who made their Ireland debuts alongside Brian O'Driscoll back in June 1999
Despite having lost all four of their 2014 Six Nations games, the future of Italian rugby is bright with the team showing a new youthful core, argues Enrico Borra
"The loudest cheer at a rugby game, away from social media gimmicks, pumping music and pyrotechnics will always be for a try." Tom Hamilton on the Twickenham atmosphere
"The only thing that will stop this England team from becoming a great team is themselves. They need to ask themselves 'what can we be?'" The Phil Vickery column