Perpignan's 16-13 defeat to Montauban was the big shock of the day in France's Top 14, while Toulouse fell at home to Toulon.
Perpignan's 16-13 defeat to Montauban was the big shock of the day in France's Top 14, while new leaders Castres were held by Racing Metro and Toulouse fell at home to Toulon.
Clermont cantered to a bonus point win over Albi, but above Albi Bayonne did their chances of survival no harm at all with a 22-16 win at Montpellier, and with Bourgoin going down by the same scoreline at home to Stade FranÃ§ais, the battle for survival between those two is heating up.
Friday: February 19
Saturday: February 20
Racing Metro 24-24 Castres
Clermont 45-18 Albi
Montpellier 16-22 Bayonne
Bourgoin 16-22 Stade FranÃ§ais
Montauban 16-13 Perpignan
Toulouse 3-6 Toulon
1 Castres 62
2 Perpignan 61
3 Clermont 61
4 Toulouse 56
5 Toulon 55
6 Racing-MÃ©tro 54
7 Stade FranÃ§ais 49
8 Brive 47
9 Biarritz 46
10 Montpellier 38
11 Montauban 37
12 Bayonne 33
13 Bourgoin 32
14 Albi 20
Racing-MÃ©tro 92 24-24 Castres Olympique
Despite the home team scoring the only two tries of the game, it was the metronomic boot of Castres' full-back Romain Teulet that so nearly won the visitors the spoils.
Racing led 18-9 at the break, helped there by tries from Francois Steyn and Henry Chavancy but the visiting pack once again put in a monumental second-half effort, eking out penalty after penalty for Teulet to bang over.
Castres led 24-21 at the death, with six penalties from Teulet in all, as well as a longer range one from Cameron McIntyre and a drop goal from the Kiwi.
But in the final minute, Racing fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski was given a chance to equalise from the tee and he took it with aplomb.
Clermont Auvergne 45-18 SCA Albi
Seven tries in all from the Jaunards who were 31-8 up at the break before easing off in the second half.
Marius Joubert, Alex Lapandry, Loic Jacquet, Alex Audebert, Kevin Senio with two and prop Vincent Debaty all scored in the first hour of the game as Clermont flexed their muscles all over the park and Brock James converted five of the scores.
Scrum-half Anthony Poujol and Romanian international Ioan Dumitras scored for the visitors, who were thoroughly outclassed.
Montpellier HRC 16-22 Aviron Bayonnais
An impressive win for Bayonne, who climb out of the relegation zone for the first time this year with this win.
Tries from Rob Linde, Benjamin Fall and Sam Gerber, two of them converted by Cedric Garcia and added to by a penalty from journeyman Sebastian Fauque had Bayone 22-6 ahead on the hour mark.
Montpellier did at least rally to grab a bonus point with a late try from Alister Campbell and conversion and penalty from Federico Todeschini, but the home fans' unrest at the final whistle was tangible.
CS Bourgoin-Jallieu 16-22 Stade FranÃ§ais
Bourgoin slip back into the relegation zone with a home defeat as predictable as it was demoralising.
A penalty try, converted by Benjamin Boyet and added to with a brace of penalties from the same had Bougoin 13-5 ahead at half-time, with a lone Julien Arias score the only points the visitors could muster for a poor first-half showing.
But Stade bounced back after the break, with Arias completing a hat-trick, Beauxis converting both second-half tries and landing a penalty.
Alberto di Bernado rescued Bourgoin a precious bonus point with a late penalty, but Bourgoin will see this as one that got away.
Montauban v USA Perpignan
Stade Sapiac, Montauban
Montauban led 13-10 at the break in a rugged game, but Perpignan ought to have come back with their superior possession and territory.
Rida Jahouer scored an early try for the hosts and former Catalan Cedric Rosalen gave good warning that indiscipline would count with two penalties and a conversion.
But Henry Tuilagi's barnstorming try and Nicolas Laharrague's conversion just before half-time served notice Perpignan were on their way back.
The Catalans should have finished it off, but the continued indiscipline at the breakdown helped Montauban stave off the pressure and Rosalen's penalty on the hour mark regained the home side the lead they never lost, dropping Perpignan off the top of the table.
Stade Toulousain 3-6 RC Toulon
An ugly ugly win, but that will metter not a jot to the Varois, for whom this win could be a season-definer.
Toulouse culd not find their rhythm without many internationals, while Toulon's exceptional discipline meant they withstood heavy pressure for long periods.
It was scoreless at the break, but David Skrela put the crowd out of its misery with a penalty early in the second half.
Yet they still could not relax and two penalties from Felipe Contepomi sealed a famous win for the visitors.