Top 14 Orange - Round 23
Clermont join Toulouse at the summit
April 14, 2012
Clermont's Benoit Cabello's try helped his side join Toulouse at the top of the table © Getty Images
Clermont Auvergne joined Toulouse at the Top 14 Orange summit after a 25-9 win over Stade Francais on Saturday afternoon.
With Toulouse falling to Perpignan on Friday evening - thanks to 20 points from James Hook in their 25-20 triumph, Clermont took full advantage. Hooker Benoit Cabello scored the only try of the game for the home side with their Heineken Cup hero Brock James adding 20 points with the boot. Toulouse will hope that Clermont's Heineken Cup distraction will detract from their charge to the title but Vern Cotter's side showed huge change from the team which eased past Saracens last weekend so their vast resources are being fully utilised as the season edges towards an epic finish.
The top two are now all but secure with just three matches of the season left, barring a minor miracle. Toulon lie 15 points off the pair with Mourad Boudjellal's big spenders failing to pick up anything from Agen - despite having the likes of Matt Giteau and Bakkies Botha in the side. The result sees Agen climb into eighth with Toulon's galacticos falling 22-13. Brice Dulin's try for the home side was aided by 17 points from the boot of Conrad Barnard.
The cheek of it: Brive's Ronald Cooke is flattened © Getty Images
Elsewhere on Saturday, Montpellier hammered the basement side Lyon 43-12. Mammoth No.8 Mamuka Gorgodze helped himself to a hat-trick with Timoci Nagusa, Agustin Creevy and Santiago Fernandez also crossing the line. The win moves them up to fourth in the table with Fabien Galthie's side starting to find the same sort of form that saw them secure a place in last season's final.
Lyon's hopes of staying in the Top 14 were not helped by relegation-rivals Bayonne overcoming Biarritz in the Basque derby. Jacques Louis-Potgieter struck 21 points to help the home side towards a potentially decisive 24-19 victory.
And Racing Metro kept their hopes of a playoff spot alive with a bonus point win over Brive. Henry Chavancy, Juan Imhoff and a double from Jone Qovu Nailiko secured them a convincing 40-19 victory. In the final game of the day, Castres smashed Bordeaux Begles 44-20 with Marc Andreu bagging a double.
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