French Top 14
Toulouse edge out Montauban
February 28, 2009
Toulouse's Jean-Baptiste Elissalde receives treatment following an injury in his side's victory over Montauban. © Getty Images
Toulouse held off a spirited Montauban side to register a narrow 9-6 victory in their Top 14 clash at the Stade Ernest Wallon.
Montauban scrum-half Julien Audy gave the visitors the lead with a penalty but his effort was cancelled out by Toulouse fly-half Jean-Baptiste Ellisalde midway through the half before he was forced out the game through injury.
Centre David Skrela put the hosts in the lead with penalty on the half hour mark but Audy almost immediately responded with his second. Skrela slotted the match-winning kick just past the hour mark to put his side six points clear at the top of the table.
Second-placed Stade Francais failed to close the gap on their title rivals as they went down 26-11 at Brive. Luciano Orquera kicked 16 points for the home side who also scored tries through centre Ronnie Cooke and late in the second half from Petrisor Toderasc. The Parisians were only able to reply through a Pascal Pape try in the dying minutes to add to an earlier drop goal from Juan Martín Hernandez and a penalty from Noel Oelschig.
Perpignan pulled level with Stade Francais on points after running in five tries on their way to a 50-13 victory over Montpellier at Stade Aime Giral. The Catalan side ran riot in the second half after leading only 16-10 at the break, Christophe Manas collecting two of their tries.
Elsewhere there was a big win for Clermont Auvergne over Castres, with Napolioni Nalaga running in three of their four tries, while Brock James knocked over 23 points in the 43-20 bonus point win. Biarritz were also big winners on Saturday with Llikena Bolakoro collecting two second half touchdowns as they scored 36 unanswered points in a 44-13 victory over Dax.
Saturday afternoon's final game saw Bayonne record an away win at Stade Guy Boniface, against bottom side Mont-de-Marsan. However they were forced to work all the way for the 37-30 win, The basement side fought hard and secured a losing bonus point with a Julien Tastet try converted by Jean-Marc Mazonetto in the final minute.
Toulon's Top 14 survival hopes were boosted when they beat Bourgoin 23-12 at the Stade Pierre-Rajon on Friday night. The visitors were 13-6 up half-time thanks to a Sebastien Fauque penalty and a try apiece from Saimone Taumoepeau and Sinoti Sinoti. Toulon were by far the superior team and dramatically improved their kicking game from their loss to Stade Francais last week.
What will be of concern to Toulon is that Tana Umaga, their player-coach, was forced off the pitch in the 22nd minute with a leg injury. His replacement Gabirieli Lovobalavu though maintained his scintillating form from last week and had the Bourgoin defence chasing his shadow for most of the night. Fly-half Benjamin Boyet kicked all of Bourgoin's points via four penalties.
An excellent second half try from Czech wing Martin Jagr, after an intelligent grubber through from Fauque, put the game beyond Bourgoin and a late Conrad Barnard penalty sealed a fifth win of the season for Toulon.
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