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Top 14
Michalak inspires Toulon to victory
ESPN Staff
September 21, 2012
Toulon's Matt Giteau dives over the tryline, Toulon v Castres, Top 14 Orange, Mayol Stadium, Toulon, France, September 22, 2012
Matt Giteau went over for Toulon's first try in a win that keeps them first in France's Top 14 © Getty Images
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Players/Officials: Luke McAlister | Frederic Michalak
Tournaments/Tours: Top 14 Orange
Teams: France | Toulon | Toulouse

Frederic Michalak started at scrum-half and pulled the strings as Top 14 league leaders Toulon beat Castres 33-12 before he came off with eight minutes remaining to a standing ovation.

Matt Giteau intercepted and ran home from 40 metres for Toulon's opening try and Michalak then set up hooker Jean-Charles Orioli for their second before halftime. David Smith grabbed Toulon's third and with it a try bonus point seven minutes from time. Jonny Wilkinson kept Toulon's score ticking over throughout the match and finished the match with 18 points from his boot.

The result keeps Toulon four points ahead of Clermont Auvergne in second place and seven in front of defending champions Toulouse. On Friday night they gave notice that they are nearing their best form when they ran in four tries to win 35-6 away to struggling Bayonne.

After McAlister had kicked three penalties and Bayonne responded with two from Benjamin Boyet, Toulouse grabbed the first try. The pack led a counter-attack from inside their half and McAlister cross-kicked to Vincent Clerc, who held off his former team-mate Cedric Heymans and slipped a pass to Timoci Matanavou. The wing held off the last desperate efforts of Bayonne to stop him and dived over the line.

After half-time Toulouse continued to dominate. Yannick Nyanga raced away for a second try and late on Jean Bouilhou and McAlister crossed to ensure Toulouse returned home with the try bonus point.

Former Saracens and London Wasps' wing Richard Haughton grabbed a try for Perpignan and James Hook kicked four penalties, but it wasn't enough to avoid a 34-24 loss to Stade Francais.

The Parisians were keen to overcome a slow start to the season and did so through eight penalties from fullback Jerome Porical and a late try from substitute Lei Tomiki. They did allow Perpignan to come back and draw level at 24-24, before they found renewed energy to record only their second win of the season.

Clermont Auvergne showed that they are likely to be in contention with a five-try 44-20 victory at home to Grenoble. Captain Aurelien Rougerie grabbed the first in the 34th minute and Damien Chouly added a second on the stroke of half-time. After the break Napolioni Nalaga grabbed their third and Wesley Fofana came off the bench to touch down the fourth and fifth tries of a powerful performance.

Racing Metro hung on at the finish to beat Biarritz 13-12. Wing Julien Saubade scored the only try of the match 10 minutes in and fullback Gaetan Germain scored their other eight points with two penalties and a conversion before half-time. The Basque club hit back in the second half, but they were unable to find a way through dogged Metro defence and Julien Pyrelongue scored four penalties for their 12 points.

SU Agen beat Mont-de-Marsan 28-16 to leave the Top 14 newcomers bottom of the table without a win, while France international flanker Fulgence Ouedgraogo was one of three try-scorers as Montpellier defeated Bordeaux-Begles 23-15.

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