Terrific Toulouse rise to the top
October 29, 2010
Clermont's Vincent Debaty celebrates his try in Saturday's win over Stade Francais © Getty Images
Toulouse stormed to the summit of the Top 14 standings with a resounding 44-5 win over Toulon at the Stade Ernest Walloon on Saturday evening.
Toulon went into the game without their talismanic fly-half Jonny Wilkinson but his absence was no excuse for a poor display. Credit to Toulouse, though, they were magnificent and tore into Toulon from the off, registering two tries inside the opening ten minutes through Maxime Medard and Vincent Clerc.
A shell-shocked Toulon dug in thereafter and managed to keep their hosts scoreless while Mafileo Kefu was in the sin bin. However, Toulouse effectively put the game beyond them when Clement Poitrenaud dived over just a minute before the break.
Yohan Montes dotted four minutes into the second half and although Toulon replied through centre Tom May, there was to be no dramatic comeback, with Toulouse ultimately embarrassing their visitors with further tries through Louis Picamoles and Medard.
Toulouse now lead the table by a solitary point from Montpellier, who maintained their fine form this season by battling their way to 29-18 victory over Bayonne at the Stade Jean Dauger earlier in the day.
Montpellier were forced to dig deep before ultimately coming out on top in a competitive affair. Winger Martin Bustos Moyana played a key role in their success, matching Benjamin Boyet kick for kick as the two sides went in level at 12 points apiece at the break.
Fly-half Boyet added another two penalties in the second period but he was ultimately outshone by his opposite number Francois Trinh-Duc, who bagged a try and a drop goal as he helped his side into a four-point advantage before Montpellier replacement Jean-Mathieu Alcalde sealed a fine away win with a late try.
Racing had gone top on Friday night after fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski kicked a last-minute penalty to salvage an 18-18 draw in their clash with Perpignan at the Stade Olympique Yves-du-Manoir.
Perpignan were on the brink of securing a surprise victory over the high-flying Racing Metro when fullback Jerome Porical kicked his sixth penalty of the night with six minutes remaining. However, Wisniewski stepped up in added time to clinch a share of the points.
Pierre Berbizier's side were looking to move back to the summit of the Top 14 table and made a promising start with Wisniewski kicking two drop-goals and a penalty in the first half. Frans Steyn, who was playing at centre, weighed in with two more penalties to give the hosts a 15-9 half-time lead.
Crucially, Porical kept the visitors in the game with three first-half penalties. And with Racing Metro struggling to fire, Porical, who was called up to the France squad for the forthcoming internationals against Argentina, Fiji and Australia next month, gradually overturned the hosts ' lead with three second-half penalties. But there was a final sting for Perpignan, with Wisniewski stepping up to deny them all the points and take Metro back to the top of the Top 14.
Clermont Auvergne climbed above Stade Francais in the standings by comfortably defeating the Parisians 27-3 at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
The hosts led 6-0 at the break after a turgid first half which featured just two penalties from France scrum-half Morgan Parra. Lionel Beauxis halved Stade's deficit when he slotted over a drop-goal shortly after the restart but moments later Michael Chieka's men lost their magnificent No. 8 Sergio Parrisse to a yellow card, and Clermont capitalized, with Parra touching down.
Clermont hooker Ti'I Paulo followed him over shortly before the hour for another converted try and replacement Vicent Debaty crashed over in the final minute of normal time to secure a precious bonus point for the home side.
Biarritz came from 12 points down to move into the top half of the table with a 27-21 victory over Brive in an exciting encounter at the Stade Amedee Domenech.
Brive had had the better of the first half, with lock Damien Browne's try proving the distance between two sides which both notched three penalties during the opening 40 minutes.
Brive then took control of the contest when blindside flanker Gerhard Vosloo crashed over just two minutes into the second half. However, scrum-half Mathieu Belie was yellow carded soon after and Biarritz took advantage, racking up ten unanswered points in the following ten minutes through a converted try from centre Arnaud Mignardi and a drop goal from fly-half Damien Traille.
No.8 Florian Faure then touched down shortly after the hour to put Biarritz into the lead for the first time in the game and scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili sealed their victory with a late penalty.
Agen boosted their hopes of beating the drop by claiming a crucial 29-14 over La Rochelle at the Stade Armandie.
Fly-half Valentin Courrent opened the scoring with an early penalty only to see La Rochelle respond with a try from winger Thomas Combezou before the end of the first quarter. However, Agen reached the interval 13 points to the good courtesy of tries from fullback Brice Dulin and scrum-half Sylvain Dupuy, and another seven points from the boot of Courrent.
The latter then extended Agen's lead with his second penalty of the afternoon, shortly after the interval, and although La Rochelle gave themselves a flicker of hope with a try from fullback Benjamin Dambielle, Courrent saw his side home with two more deadly swings of his trusty right boot.
Agen's victory consigned Bourgoin to the foot of the table as they suffered 41-24 loss to Castres at the Stade Pierre Antoine.
From Bourgoin's perspective, the damage was done in the opening period. They managed just a solitary score, a penalty from No.10 Alberto di Bernardi, while their hosts ran riot, with Marc Andreu, Seremaia Bai and Vincent Inigo all crossing.
Bourgoin proved far more competitive a restart and managed three tries of their own through Yann Labrit, Alex Tulou and Silvere Tian. However, Castres also struck three times in the second period, with Chris Masoe, Anton Peikrishvili and Florian Denos their try-scorers.
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