Wilkinson injured as Toulon hit the top
September 9, 2012
Racing Metro's Antoine Battut is engulfed by the Clermont Auvergne defence © Getty Images
Toulon hit top spot in the Top 14 with a 42-12 mauling of Bordeaux-Begles at the Stade Félix-Mayol on Saturday night but it came at a cost with fly-half Jonny Wilkinson forced off with a head injury.
The former England international, recently linked with a possible place on next summer's British & Irish Lions tour, was forced to make way after just 20 minutes but still managed to slot a conversion following a David Smith try before being replaced by Frederic Michalak.
Delon Armitage scored Toulon's second try after he had linked up with Smith and Matt Giteau, Maxime Mermoz grabbed a brace of tries and his fellow centre Mathieu Bastareaud scored their fifth with 10 minutes to go.
Elsewhere, Iain Balshaw ran in Biarritz's first try as the Basque club made it four wins from four with a 27-8 win over Montpellier to keep the pressure on Toulon at the top of the table.
The former England fullback ran in his try in the 57th minute to confirm Biarritz's dominance after penalties from Jean-Pascal Barraque and Julien Peyrelongue had put them in control of proceedings. They then extended their lead and secured the win with tries from flanker Benoit Guyot and scrum-half Yann Lesgourgues. Thomas Combezous scored a last-minute try for Montpellier but it was no more than a consolation.
Reigning champions Toulouse were ruthless against Agen with Guy Noves' side running in eight tries on their way to a 62-13 win. Gillian Galan scored the first try in the 12th minute, before veteran Vincent Clerc and his fellow wing Timoci Matanawou added further tries before half-time. After the break Toulouse stepped up the pressure and they added five more tries through Franc back-rower Louis Picamoles, Edwin Maka, Gael Fikou, Gary Botha and a second for Clerc.
Clermont Auvergne complete the top four following a narrow 13-12 victory over Racing Metro on Sunday night. A late penalty from scrum-half Morgan Parra proved just enough to preserve Clermont's outstanding unbeaten run at the Stade Marcel Michelin that now stretches to 44 games. A try from Napolioni Nalaga gave the hosts an early advantage before fullback Benjamin Dambielle booted his side back into the contest. A yellow card for Clermont flanker Julien Bardy was followed by a further penalty for Dambielle and drop goal for centre Fabrice Estebanez to edge Racing ahead but back-to-back strikes for Parra rescued the result for the home side.
Top 14 newboys Grenoble were in equally unforgiving mood as they scored seven tries to hammer fellow newcomers Mont de Marsan 52-7 on Saturday. Centre Nigel Hunt and hooker Laurent Bouchet both went over for a brace of tries and there were tries for Jonathan Pelissie, Joaquin Tuculet and Albertus Buckle.
Wales fly-half James Hook won the battle of the Welsh half-backs when he scored all Perpignan's points in their 18-13 win over Mike Phillips' Bayonne side. Hook scored 15 points before half-time and then closed out the match with a 35-metre effort 15 minutes from time. Phillips by contrast endured a torrid night and spent 10 minutes in the sin-bin after he was punished for entering a ruck from the side.
Stade Francais' poor start to the season continued when they were held 20-20 at home by Castres. They needed former Leicester Tigers' scrum-half Julien Dupuy to convert a Geoffrey Doumayrou try five minutes from time to draw level after it appeared that the south west club would continue to push towards the top four.
Dupuy's opposite number Rory Kockott had kept Castres in control with 12 points from penalties and fly-half Remy Tales had knocked over a drop goal early in the match. Dupuy kicked a penalty with 14 minutes remaining to put Stade Francais within seven points and centre Doumayrou completed the comeback when he took Sergio Parisse's pass to race over and score.
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