Castres were the big winners as a bonus-point victory over Toulouse sent the Tarnais the summit of the Top 14 standings.
Castres were the big winners this weekend as a bonus-point victory over Toulouse sent the Tarnais the summit of the Top 14 standings.
Toulon maintained their unbeaten record at home with victory over Brive while Montpellier confirmed their good form with an away win at the death in Bourgoin.
Bayonne finally managed to get a decent result as they won easily at home to Montauban, while Racing Metro won the Paris derby over Stade FranÃ§ais by a squeak.
Biarritz fought back to snatch a thriller in Clermont, meaning one team in the top five (Castres) was able to win this weekend.
Albi 24-23 Perpignan
Bourgoin 20-23 Montpellier
Bayonnais 38-13 Montauban
Toulon 19-10 Brive
Racing MÃ©tro 20-18 Stade FranÃ§ais
Castres 30-10 Toulouse
Clermont Auvergne 13-16 Biarritz Olympique
1 Perpignan 41
2 Castres 41
3 Toulouse 36
4 Clermont 35
5 Toulon 34
6 Biarritz 32
7 Stade FranÃ§ais 32
8 Racing-MÃ©tro 31
9 Montpellier 29
10 Montauban 25
11 Brive 24
12 Bayonne 23
13 Bourgoin 23
14 Albi 14
Racing Metro 92 20-18 Stade FranÃ§ais
Ok, so it's not much of a derby win when the opposition is so short of personnel that they are playing an international centre at number eight, but try telling that to the Yves du Manoir faithful.
There was also further testament to the emergence of Jonathan Wisniewski at fly-half for Racing.
He landed two penalties and two flawless drop goals and controlled a punchy game with considerable aplomb.
It did not start well for the home side, with Pierre Rabadan breaking and Ollie Phillips rounding the move off for Stade after just 104 seconds.
But Wisniewski steadied the ship with two penalties and then, while many defenders were distracted by a punch-up, Sereli Bobo broke away to score Racing's only try.
Falie Oelschig pulled the lead back Stade's way with two penalties of his own, but the visitors were running out of juice even though they led 13-11 at the break.
The drop goals from Wisniewski – with Frans Steyn landing a boomer in between – spelled a 20-13 lead, and although Stade rallied enough to see Mathieu Bastareaud cap his number eight debut off with a try (he popped up on the wing to score), there was not much left to offer.
We'll leave it up to you to imagine the party among the Racing fans.
Castres Olympique 30-10 Stade Toulousain
Castres do not storm the summit with this win as Perpignan's bonus point on Friday keeps the Catalans there, but Castes deserve to go top.
Toulouse may have been missing a few players, but their back-line still had a full complement of players with international experience and the forwards were no slouches.
Yet Castres obliterated Toulouse's scrum and were 20-3 to the good at half-time, with Cameron McIntyre scoring a try, converting both that and the one by Chris Masoe and adding two penalties.
Toulouse's only answer was a penalty by Freddie Michalak – it's a measure of how far his stock has fallen that he couldn't get a start even with all those internationals missing but he was on for the increasingly brittle-boned Jean-Baptiste Elissalde after a quarter of an hour.
Michalak pulled further points back for Toulouse early in the second half by finishing off a fine break from Yves Donguy and converting, but within three minutes Castres has made the damage good when Masoe took the ball off the back of a scrum and slipped a scoring pass to Thomas Sanchou.
But the real icing on Castres' cake was the fourth try that clinched the bonus point, a rumbling, earthquaking, bulldozing maul that drove 20m for Masoe to grab his second. Castres' dream season continues.
CS Bourgoin-Jallieu 20-23 Montpellier HRC
Montpellier rode their luck but prop Eugene van Staden peeled off the back of a maul 15m out and plundered the winning try for their fourth win in a row two minutes before time, a win which also puts Bourgoin back into the thick of the basement battle.
Bourgoin led 10-9 at half-time after a tepid half of rugby, with Wessel Jooste capitalising on full-back Anthony Forest's brilliant counter-attack to score the only try after 12 minutes.
Sebastien Laloo converted and added a penalty, while Federico Todeschini landed three goals for Montpol.
The visitors took the lead at the start of the second half, picking off a loose pass by Laloo and finishing in the corner through full-back Julien Alcalde.
A poorly-timed substitution by Montpellier, introducing a new flanker when the scrum was under pressure, backfired when said substitute Marc Giraud gave away a penalty try by breaking early.
That made it 17-16, and Laloo added another penalty which could have seen Bourgoin home before Van Staden's epic finale silenced the Pierre-Rajon.
Aviron Bayonnais 38-13 Montauban
A bad run came to an end for Bayonne with this win, which included a bonus point courtesy of Sam Gerber's late try.
Bayonne led 18-7 at the break and although Cedric Rosalen did his best to keep Montauban in touch with a penalty and drop goal after, Thibault Lacroix's second try on 55 minutes killed the game off.
It was no more than Bayonne deserved and they now push Bourgoin back into the drop zone, also pushing Montauban perilously close to it as well.
RC Toulon 19-10 CA Brive-CorrÃ¨ze
Things lurch from bad to worse in the CorrÃ¨ze. Brive are now eleventh, only one point clear of the team in the dreaded thirteenth spot.
At least they scored a try this time, through number eight Simon Azoulai, one that actually tied the game up at 10-10 shortly after the break.
But Toulon were not to be denied and Felipe Contepomi's late penalty ensured Brive left the Var region empty-handed.
Fotu Auelua scored Toulon's only try in the first half, while Sebastian FauquÃ© kicked the other points. It's a useful win for Toulon in a week where Toulouse and Stade FranÃ§ais and one of Biarritz or Clermont came a cropper, and it keeps them fifth for now.
Clermont Auvergne 13-16 Biarritz Olympique
Biarritz bounced back from 13-3 down early in the second half to claim a rare win at the Stade Marcel Michelin.
Full-back Paul Couet-Lannes got onto the end of the final move of the game to score and seal the deal, with Dimitri Yachvili's conversion icing the cake.
Clermont had looked imperious, with Brock James his usual self from the tee and a fortunate try by Baby – seizing on Jamie Cudmore's charge-down of Yachvili's box-kick – giving Clermont a 10-3 lead at the break.