Joe Tomane scored a first half hat-trick as Montpellier cruised to an easy 61-22 victory over Bayonne at the Altrad Stadium on Sunday.
Bottom-placed Bayonne were already relegated before the start of this match and it showed as they were outplayed in most facets of play with the home side eventually outscoring them by nine tries to three.
The win means Montpellier move above Toulon in to third place in the standings although they are four points adrift of second-placed Clermont and have a game in hand.
Montpellier laid the groundwork for this win in the opening period when they scored six of their tries and they led 40-8 at the break.
The home side were in control from the outset and Tomane scored the game’s opening try as early the sixth minute after Nemani Nadolo tore Bayonne’s defence to shreds with a superb line break in the build-up.
Montpellier continued to dominate as the half progressed and tries from Antoine Battut and Francois Steyn meant they led 19-0 after the opening quarter before Manu Saubusse opened Bayonne’s account with a penalty in the 21st minute.
Five minutes later, Tomane crossed for his second try after Timoci Nagusa did well to draw in three defenders before offloading to the on-rushing Wallaby, who had an easy run-in.
On the half-hour mark, Nagusa pounced on a mistake by Julien Tisseron to cross the whitewash before Tomane secured his hat-trick in the 35th minute after gathering a pass from Benoit Paillaugue.
Shortly before half-time, Martin Laveau set off on a mazy run – in which he beat several defenders – before offloading to Julien Jane who dived over in the corner for a try for the visitors.
The visitors scored the first points of the second half via a Martin Laveau try but Montpellier continued to attack and secured the win by the 70th minute thanks to further tries from Steyn, Akapusi Qera and Willie du Plessis, who finished with a 21-point haul as he also kicked eight conversions.
Bayonne did not surrender, however, and five minutes before the end they were rewarded when Toma Taufa scored a consolation try.
Tries: Tomane 3, Battut, Steyn 2, Nagusa, Qera, W du Plessis
Cons: W du Plessis 8
Tries: Jane, Laveau, Taufa
Cons: Saubusse, Meret
Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Joseph Tomane, 13 Yvan Reilhac, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Willie du Plessis, 9 Nic White, 8 Kelian Galletier, 7 Antoine Battut, 6 Akapusi Qera, 5 Konstantin Mikautadze, 4 Jacques Du Plessis, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Bismarck Du Plessis, 1 Mikheil Nariashvili
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Gregory Fichten, 18 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 19 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 20 Benoit Paillaugue, 21 Timoci Nagusa, 22 Joffrey Michel, 23 Jannie du Plessis
Bayonne: 15 Julien Tisseron, 14 Martin Laveau, 13 Julien Jane, 12 Thibault Lacroix, 11 Bastien Fuster, 10 Benjamin Thiery, 9 Manu Saubusse, 8 John Beattie, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Tanerau Latimer, 5 Tom Donnelly, 4 Adam Jaulhac, 3 Richard Choirat, 2 Grégory Arganese, 1 Aretz Iguiniz
Replacements: 16 Simon Labouyrie, 17 Jose Ramon Ayarza, 18 Guillaume Ducat, 19 PJ Van Lill, 20 Bastien Duhalde, 21 Lucas Meret, 22 Jean Jo Marmouyet, 23 Toma Taufa
Referee: Sébastien Cloute
Assistant Referees: Pierre Brousset, Jean-Claude Labarbe
TMO: Sébastien Minery
Photo credit: Montpellier Hérault Rugby Official Facebook page