Clermont secure home semi-final
April 20, 2013
Clermont's Wesley Fofana scores against Toulouse © Getty Images
Clermont Auvergne secured a home semi-final in the Top 14 play-offs and top spot in the table with a 39-17 victory over third-placed Toulouse at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
Former All Black winger Sitiveni Sivivatu touched down twice while fellow Kiwi Benson Stanley and France centre Wesley Fofana also scored tries. Scrum-half Morgan Parra landed two conversions and four penalties while Mike Delany kicked a further penalty for Clermont. France international Thierry Dusautoir and Louis Picamoles touched down for Toulouse with Luke McAlister converting both scores and adding a another penalty. While the defeat for Toulouse ended their faint hopes of catching Clermont, they remain strong favourites to qualify for the play-offs in third place.
Toulon suffered a shock 25-24 defeat to Grenoble at Stade Lesdiguieres to relinquish top spot to Clermont. The visitors were 21-6 up after just 26 minutes following tries from Levan Chilachava, David Smith and Rudi Wulf - which were all converted by former Wallaby Matt Giteau. In the absence of Jonny Wilkinson, ahead of next weekend's Heineken Cup clash with Saracens, Giteau added a further penalty early in the second half. The hosts hit back with a try from Florian Ninard, which was converted by Jonathan Pelissie, who had kicked Grenoble's earlier penalties. Toulon looked as though they would hold on for the victory but late scores from Anthony Hegarty and Pelissie, who slotted teh decisive last-gasp conversion denied Toulon.
Stade Francais claimed Parisian bragging rights with a 19-16 win over Racing Metro at the Stade de France.
Jerome Porical kicked the decisive penalty from 35 metres out seven minutes from time, after the Racing pack had been driven back into their own half. The fullback landed three penalties in total and also converted Paul Williams' try on the stroke of half-time.
Racing had appeared in control of the match after fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski had scored all their points with a try, conversion and two penalties. However, a penalty in the 69th minute allowed Porical to draw Stade level and he repeated the trick again four minutes later for the win.
Castres boosted their hopes of securing a home tie in the first-phase of the play-offs with a 44-17 victory over bottom club Mont-de-Marsan at the Stade Pierre-Antoine. Marc Andreu scored twice for the hosts while Karena Wihongi, Romain Teulet and Martial also touched down in the five-try win. Teulet kicked two conversions and two penalties for a personal haul of 15 points. Antoine Vignau-Tuquet kicked a drop-goal and three penalties for the visitors while Alexandre Ricaud scored their only try.
Perpignan's faint chances of reaching the end of season play-offs were eradicated as they lost 23-15 to Agen. Both sides scored two tries apiece with Miguel Avramovic and Silvere Tian crossing for Agen and Romain Taofifenua and Armand Battle touching down for Perpignan. But Raphael Lagarde kicked three penalties and two conversions compared to Tom Ecochard's penalty and conversion.
Montpellier suffered a 32-26 defeat to Bayonne at the Stade Jean-Dauger to end their push for a home tie in the first stages of the knock-out phase while Biarritz slumped to a 16-0 defeat to Bordeaux-Begles.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
The rolling maul is becoming an increasingly potent attacking weapon. Conor O'Shea looks at the difficulties of stopping it
The news of James Horwill, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Dan Carter's respective transfers will open the floodgates, writes Tom Hamilton
Kiwi coaches can be found far and wide across the globe, and Murray Mexted believes the All Blacks benefit every bit as much as their rivals
Clermont, Toulon, player burnout, Sam Burgess and a farewell to Adams Park - Monday Maul looks back at the weekend's action