Top 14 - Round 20 Review
Perpignan falter at Montauban
February 20, 2010
Montauban's Abdelatif Boutaty goes on the charge during his side's upset win against Perpignan © Getty Images
Defending champions Perpignan suffered a surprise defeat at the hands of Montauban on Saturday - going down 16-13 at the Stade de Saipac.
The struggling hosts struck first with a try from Rida Jahouer that was converted by fly-half Cédric Rosalen who added two further penalties to put his side in control. Perpignan struck back before the break with a converted penalty try to add to an earlier penalty from fly-half Nicolas Laharrague and Catalans' No.10 pulled his side level earlier in the second half with a drop goal. But Rosalen slotted his third penalty just short of the hour mark to set up a famous win.
Perpignan's loss meant that Castres' draw with Racing Metro was enough for the Castrais to reclaim top spot. Check out the report from our Game of the Week for full details. The failure of the top two sides to register victories provided Clermont Auvernge with an opportunity close the gap at the top of the table and they took full advantage at home to basement boys Albi - scoring a 45-18 bonus point win.
Last season's finallists opened with a first minute try through returning South African centre Marius Joubert and they kept the pressure on throughout the opening period with tries from flankers Alexandre Lapandry and Alexandre Audebert and scrum-half Kevin Senio to ensure the extra point was in the bag before the break. A score from Vincent Debaty and a second from Senio completed the six try rout.
There was another upset at Stade Ernest Wallon where Toulon secured a 6-3 victory over Toulouse to further their play-off hopes. Fly-half David Skrela opened the scoring with a penalty early in the second half but opposite number Felipe Contepomi, who was yellow carded in the first half, hit back with two of his own to complete a notable triumph.
Winger Julien Arias scored a hat-trick as Stade Francais staged an excellent comeback to beat Bourgoin away from home. A penalty try and eight points from the boot of Benjamin Boyet had given the hosts a commanding 13-0 lead after half an hour. But Julien Arias's tries either side of the break and a Lionel Beauxis conversion brought his side into the game, before Beauxis gave his side the lead going into the final quarter. Arias sealed the win with five minutes remaining with his third try to seal the 22-16 win.
Struggling Bayonne gave their survival hopes a significant boost as they also won 22-16 at Montpellier. Bayonne were always on top at Stade Yves-du-Manoir and first half tries from second-row Rob Linde and France wing Benjamin Fall helped them to a 12-6 lead at the interval. Sam Gerber added a third after the break, but they came up short in search of the bonus point as Alister Campbell scored a try to help his side claim a losing bonus.
Biarritz collected the points from play-off rivals Brive at the Parc des Sport Aguilera on Friday night, scraping to a 12-6 victory. The home team remain a point behind Brive in the table, with both sides in the hunt for a top six spot at the end of the regular season, and will have been pleased with their efforts after being shorn of five of their leading lights in Fabien Barcella, Imanol Harinordoquy, Magnus Lund, Dimitri Yachvili and Damien Traille due to injury and international call-ups.
The score was level at the break after Biarritz scrum-half Valentin Courrent traded penalties with Fabrice Estebanez. Courrent landed two more penalties after the break, with Julien Peyrelongue chipping over a drop-goal just after the hour mark. Estebanez and Brive could muster only another penalty in the second period, giving victory to their hosts. England centre Jamie Noon saw his team's best opportunity go begging with minutes remaining, spilling the ball five metres from the Biarritz line.
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