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Top 14 Orange - Round 26
Toulon tumble out of the top six
ESPNscrum Staff
May 7, 2011

Jonny Wilkinson's Toulon missed out on the Top 14 play-offs after slumping to a dismal 20-3 defeat to Montpellier at the Stade Yves-du-Manoir on Saturday afternoon.

Toulon went into the final day of the regular season in fifth place but they ended it eighth on account of their defeat and wins for Biarritz and Bayonne elsewhere. Consequently, it is Montpellier and Biarritz who will join table-toppers Toulouse, Racing Metro, Castres and Clermont Auvergne in the play-offs.

Big-spending Toulon only had themselves to blame after turning in an abject display against Montpellier. The hosts took the lead after less than five minutes, with wing Martin Bustos Moyana racing through to score a try which he converted.

Toulon posted a swift reply through the boot of Wilkinson but Bustos Moyana landed a penalty with the last kick of a scrappy first half to send the home side in 10-3 to the good. They then pulled further clear on 55 minutes when Timoci Nagusa touched down and, after Bustos Moyana had landed another penalty, they sealed their victory when France fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc dotted late on.

That result enabled Biarritz to finish fifth as they survived a spirited fightback from Bourgoin to record a 22-18 win at the Stade Pierre Rajon. The Basques lost centre Marcelo Bosch to the sin bin just ten minutes in but still managed to reach the interval 9-6 ahead, with scrum-half Dimtiri Yachvili having outscored Bourgoin No.10 Matias Viazzo by three penalties to two.

Magnus Lund then crashed over for the visitors and although Bourgoin replied in kind through Coenie Basson, some more accurate goal-kicking from Yachvili helped Biarritz into 22-11 lead by the hour mark. Thomas Genevois laid the foundations for a tense finale when he crossed in the final quarter but he then undid his good work by picking up a yellow card with six minutes to go to allow Biarritz to see out the game comfortably enough.

Toulouse finished top of the pile after defeating Clermont Auvergne 15-6 at the Stade Ernest Wallon, despite seeing Yannick Jauzion yellow carded during the first half.

After a tight and tense opening, Clermont scrum-half Morgan Parra opened the scoring with a 25th-minute penalty. However, that strike immediately sparked the home side into life and Maxime Medard crossed the whitewash just over 60 seconds later.

Jauzion then saw yellow on 32 minutes but Toulouse actually managed to extend their advantage while down to 14, with fly-half Nicolas Bezy slotting a penalty just after the restart. Brock James replied with a penalty for Clermont but any hopes of a comeback were dashed when Fijian winger Rupeni Caucaunibuca dived over on 58 minutes.

Clermont's loss saw them drop to fourth, with Castres claiming third place courtesy of an impressive 29-10 win over last year's runners-up, Perpignan, at the Stade Aime Giral.

Castres started brightly in Catalan country, registering an early penalty from fullback Romain Teulet before winger Marc Andreu touched down 12 minutes in. Perpignan fullback Jerome Porical blazed through to score moments later but a second try of the afternoon from Andreu helped the visitors reach the interval 17-5 ahead, a yellow card for Teulet proving of little inconvenience to them.

Castres bossed the second half and further tries from lock Joe Tekori and Teulet, either side of a consolation score for Perpignan from replacement Charles Geli, ensured that they will go into the play-offs brimming with belief.

Racing Metro will also approach the play-offs with great confidence after sealing second place with a 29-16 victory over Stade Francais at the Stade Charlety that owed everything to a blistering start.

A fired-up Racing notched three tries in the opening 13 minutes through wing Sireli Bobo, Frans Steyn and Henry Chavancy. Stade's sole riposted during that early blitz was a penalty from Lionel Beauxis but Julien Dupuy's converted try, which came while Racing fullback Dan Scarbrough was in the sin bin, shortly before half-time did draw them to within seven points. However, the boot of Jonathan Wisniewski, who ended with 14 points to his name, saw Racing home.

Meanwhile, Bayonne were left heartbroken as their 30-17 victory over La Rochelle at the Stade Marcel Deflandre counted for nothing as they ended up one place and one point outside the play-off places.

Bayonne took charge of a desperately fractious encounter which saw five yellow cards in total when wingers Yoann Huget and Joe Pietersen both crossed in the space of three minutes. Manoel Dall'igna kept the hosts in touch by dotting himself just before the interval but Huget's second try, which arrived at the end of the third quarter, enabled the visitors to cruise to victory.

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