Planet Rugby

Top 14 Wrap: Round Sixteen

30th December 2009 19:59

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Clement Poitrenaud toulouse v perpignan

Clement Poitrenaud scored the winning try for Toulouse

Montpellier launched an epic fight back to come from behind to snatch a late victory over Stade Français while Castres and Clermont racked up impressive wins.

Clermont ran no less than seven tries past Brive as the central derby once again turn into a yellow demolition job. Castres consolidated their lead in the standings with a solid win at home to Montauban.

Bayonne were the big losers of the day, going down narrowly to Racing Metro, who extended their winning run to nine matches.

Elsewhere, Biarritz got their campaign going in the right direction as they cruised past Bourgoin while Toulon were unsurprising winners against lowly Albi.

Results:

Montpellier 25-23 Stade Français
Castres 30-7 Montauban
Clermont 52-10 Brive
Bayonne 19-23 Racing Metro
Toulon 41-13 Albi
Biarritz 23-6 Bourgoin
Toulouse 22-11 Perpignan

Standings:

1 Castres 51
2 Clermont 47
3 Racing Metro 47
4 Toulouse 45
5 Perpignan 45
6 Toulon 42
7 Stade Français 39
8 Biarritz 37
9 Brive 33
10 Montpellier 33
11 Montauban 30
12 Bourgoin 27
13 Bayonne 24
14 Albi 19

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Montpellier HRC 25-23 Stade Français
Stade Yves Du Manoir, Montpellier

A brilliant win for les Heraultais who can breath again as they move away from the relegation zone. Stade Français on the other hand continue to make life difficult for themselves, going down despite scoring a try more than their hosts.

Stade Français were victims of complacency as they led 23-9 going into the final quarter only to see Montpol fight back thanks to a try from hooker Joan Caudullo and some faultless place-kicking from full-back Frederico Todeschini.

After heading to the changing rooms level at 6-all, the visitors raced ahead in the second half when centre Geoffrey Messina scores twice in the space of seven minutes.

The with clear lead, the Parisian coaching staff proceeded to make a number of changes to their team, only to see the wheels come off as Caudullo touched down and Todeschini kicked four penalties in the last half an hour, including the winner with just three minutes left on the clock.

Stade coach Jacques Delmas was fuming at the fact that his side failed to score one point in the final 25 minutes while Montpellier scored 16.

"Our kicking game was non-existent, instead of continually kicking up and unders we should have been more perspicacious and effective in driving the opponents back into their territory.

"I cannot see how with a 14 point lead we could lose this match."

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Castres Olympique 30-7 Montauban
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres

The league leaders finished the year in fine style win a three-try win, although they missed out on a bonus point.

It visitors enjoyed the better of the early running, leading 7-3 after ten minutes when kiwi full-back Shannon Paku crashed over.

But Castres soon took control of the match as Romain Teulet put them ahead with three penalties.

Three tries in under fifteen minutes in the last quarter put the result beyond doubt. Chris Masoe, Joe Tekori and Yann Audrin touched down as the Tarnais march into 2010 clear leaders of the Top 14.

Castres joint coach Laurent Travers was encouraged by the performance without going overboard of how significant it was towards winning the title - a dream that he and co-coach Laurent Labit have made realistic in only their first season in charge after leaving Montauban.

"We experienced some precarious moments in the first-half," he

said.

"The Montauban players don't let anything go. What is good, is that we never lost our way and we found the answers, but the score does not reflect the overall balance of the match."

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Clermont Auvergne 52-10 CA Brive-Corrèze
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand

As in recent years, Brive headed to Clermont Ferrand to receive a derby hiding.

Seven tries and a bonus point see Clermont move up to second place in the standings.

Brent Russell started the try-festival after ten minutes before Julien Malzieu celebrated his new contract with slaloming run to score in the 23rd. Kevin Senio (28th) and Wesley Fofana (34th) made sure Brive were out of the game before half time.

In the second half the Clermont pack got into the action as Mario Ledesma (45th) and Lionel Faure (52nd) barged over before Gavin Williams sealed the deal in the 80th minute.

Luciano Orquera scored all of Brive's points, including a consolation try, three minuets from time.

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Stade Toulousain 22-11 USA Perpignan
Stadium de Toulouse

Perpignan will head home ruing a number of missed opportunities, but nothing should be taken away from the deathly clinical style with which Toulouse seized the game.

The result marks Toulouse's first win this season against one of the main rivals as the Rouge et Noir climb above Perpignan on points difference in the standings.

Toulouse took an early 6-0 lead thanks to the hard graft of their pack, a drop from David Skrela and a Fred Michalak penalty. Perpignan were first to cross the whitewash however when Gerrie Britz finished off a moved started from a David Marty break.

Another Michalak penalty made the score 9-5 to the hosts at half-time despite Perpignan's domination.

Soon after the break Jerome Porical's penalty made it a one-point game. Michalak and the Catalan full-back exchanged penalties again to leave the scores 12-11 going into the final ten minutes.

The hosts were playing much better rugby in the second half and took the game by the scruff of the neck when full-back Clement Poitrenaud intercepted Rimas' Alvarez-Kairelis to score.

With Toulouse win the territorial battle in the final minutes, Skrela made sure of the win with his second drop.

Toulouse manager Guy Noves expressed himself delighted with the win even if he risks losing France captain Thierry Dusautoir for Sunday's match with Bayonne. And the fiery Toulouse handler was not best pleased at one of the questions posed to him.

"If this victory reassures me? Frankly, I have had enough that after every match I am asked that question. We are happy that have shown a lot of heart, that is all," he said.

Perpignan general manager Jacques Brunel saw some bright spots in the defeat with the title the only thing possible for his side after they crashed out of the European Cup.

"I am disappointed but satisfied at the same time," he commented.

"Disappointed by the defeat and the fact we didn't get a bonus defensive point.

"It is frustrating because we deserved more."

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Aviron Bayonnais 19-23 Racing Metro 92
Stade Jean Dauger, Bayonne

Racing Metro continued their fine form as they extended their winning run to eleven successive matches in all competitions.

Their ninth consecutive Top 14 victory moved them to within the record of eleven set by Toulouse last season whilst Bayonne will be hoping former Australia coach Eddie Jones does take up an offer to be consultant and rescue them after suffering their eleventh defeat of the campaign.

Racing fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski kicked four penalties for the Francilliens including one in the final minute to secure the win. Wisniewski was unfortunate however to be shown a yellow card for an obstruction when Lionel Nallet was actually the guilty party.

Bayonne's Cédric Garcia made sure the game was a close affair right until the final whistle with four penalties of his own, but the Basques were chasing the visitors for most of the game after Sébastien Chabal set up Jone Qovu to score Racing's only try on 29 minutes to give the Parisians a 11-9 lead at the break.

Replacement fly-half Fabien Fortassin slotted a drop and penalty for Racing to open a 20-12 lead, before Bayonne fought back with a try from winger Jean-Baptiste Peyras despite being a man down after Julien Puricelli was yellow carded.

In a nail-biting finish, Racing held on to maintain their third place in the standings.

Racing lock and former France captain Lionel Nallet said that it had been a good run-out after the holiday break.

"That really does us good because we had some concerns after the success we have enjoyed so far," said Nallet.

"We had the break, so we didn't know how we were going to react after returning. It is a nice victory."

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RC Toulon 41-13 SCA Albi
Stade Felix Mayol, Toulon

No surprises here as Toulon racked up their fifth win in seven domestic starts.

The hosts scored four tries but missed out on a bonus point as Albi crossed the line twice including Benjamin Lapeyre's opening effort after just seven minutes.

England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson proceeded to slot five penalties in under 20 minutes before winger Christian Loamanu scored just before the break to give the hosts a 22-8 lead.

Soon after the break Argentine player of the year Juan Manuel Fernandez Lobbe touched down. Prop Saimone Taumoepeau crashed over for Toulon's third in the dying minutes with Wilko adding the extras, for a 100 per cent record on the night. Fotu Auelua rubbed salt into Albi's wounds in the final minute.

Albi's American sub Matekitonga Moeakiola crossed twenty minutes for time, denying the hosts a bonus point.

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Biarritz Olympique 23-6 CS Bourgoin-Jallieu
Parc des Sports d'Aguilera, Biarritz

Biarritz easily got their long-awaited home win, staying in the race for a play-off spot in the process.

Ian Taele-Pavihi scored the hosts shortly before half-time to give the hosts a 13-6 lead at the break.

Fly-half Valentin Courrent added a penalty to Dimitri Yachvili's two in the first half to extend the lead before he scored BO's second try to seal the win.

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