Perpignan hit the Top 14 summit
November 16, 2008
Perpignan's Adrien Plante exploits a gap in the Biarritz defence at the Aime-Giral Stadium © Getty Images
Perpignan pulled level with Toulouse at the top of the French Top 14 this weekend with bonus-point victory over Biarritz.
Tries from Damien Chouly, Adrien Plante and Julien Candelon and 12 points from the boot of David Mele carried Perpignan to victory at Stade Aime Giral against mid-table Biarritz whose points came courtesy of three penalties and a drop goal from Dimitri Yachvili. The victory saw Perpignan pull level on points with Toulouse at the top of the table.
Toulouse had earlier snatched a last-gasp 19-18 victory over strugglers Toulon. Gaffie du Toit slotted a penalty in the final minute of the match to save team mate Frederic Michalak's blushes after he missed several kicks at goal on his return to the side following his sabbatical with Natal Sharks in South Africa.
The 26-year-old French international, fresh from helping the Sharks claim this year's Currie Cup title, was subjected to boos from the home crowd as he struggled to find his form in his first appearance for the club in 15 months.
Orene Ai'i gave the visitors the lead with an early drop goal but Michalak was on target with an early penalty soon after and Toulouse stretched their lead with a Florian Fritz try on the quarter hour. But Toulon took control of the game with a second penaty for Ai'i and then the fullback notched a try that was converted by Tusi Pisi to give them a 13-8 half-time lead.
Michalak's woes with the boot continued after the break but a Byron Kelleher levelled things up with a try on the hour. Toulon struck back with a second try from Australian import Luke Rooney but the introduction of Du Toit at fullback proved a key change. He kicked two penalties in the last ten minutes to ensure Toulouse escaped with a win.
In the opening match of the round Montpellier upset early league leaders Stade Francais with a 26-13 triumph at the Stade Yves du Manoir. Two first half tries from Julien Tomas and Frikkie Welsh and 13 points from the boot of Federico Todeschini sealed the upset.
Bayonne climbed to third place in the table with a narrow 13-9 victory away at Bourgoin where Fijian Filimone Bolavucu grabbed the only try of the game. Brive upset Clermont Auvergne with a 18-16 victory at Stade Amedée-Domenech where English fly-half Andy Goode kicked all of his side's points.
At the bottom of the table Mont de Marsan went down to their ninth defeat of the season with Castres heaping woe on the basement club with a 26-6 success that saw Iosefa Tekori score two tries.
In the weekend's other game Dax and Montauban battled to a 20-20 draw at the Stade Maurice Boyau.
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