Planet Rugby

Top 14 wrap: Montpellier prevail

26th November 2011 15:37

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Timoci Nagusa

Montpellier brace: Timoci Nagusa

Second-placed Clermont Auvergne were edged out 29-23 by twelfth-placed Montpellier at the Stade Yves du Manoir.

Results:
Brive 9-9 Toulouse
Montpellier 29-23 Clermont
Castres 22-22 Toulon
Agen 24-15 Bordeaux-Begles

Standings:

1. Toulouse 38
2. Clermont 36
3. Castres 333
4. Toulon 30
5. Racing-Metro 30
6. Agen 28
7. Stade Francais 26
8. Brive 21
9. Perpignan 19
10. Bayonne 19
11. Montpellier 18
12. Bordeaux-Begles 17
13. Lyon 13
14. Biarritz 10

Brive 9-9 Toulouse

Top 14 leaders Toulouse were held to a 9-9 draw by Brive at the Stade Stade Amedee Domenech on Saturday.

Brive wing Julien Caminati denied Toulouse victory after slotting over a penalty three minutes before full-time to share the spoils.

The visitors appeared on course to stretch their lead at the top of the Top 14 standings, thanks to the boot of Lionel Beauxis who two first-half penalties and another shortly after the break to give his team a nine-point lead.

However, Brive struck back through two quick-fire penalties from goal-kicker Caminati - his third and final successful kick of the match denying the defending champions a hard-fought win.

Montpellier 29-23 Clermont

Two tries from Fijian wing Timoci Nagusa inspired last season's finalists Montpellier to a thrilling 29-23 victory over 2010 champions Clermont on Saturday.

Montpellier kicker Benoit Paillaugue contributed all the other 19 points and evoked memories of the winners' form last season which they have found tough to replicate this term.

However, if they win their game in hand on Wednesday they will be firmly back in the reckoning for a top six play-off spot.

Clermont's defeat wasn't too damaging as champions and table toppers Toulouse were surprisingly held to a 9-9 draw away at Brive.

Montpellier edged into an early lead with Paillaugue landing two penalties, though David Skrela replied with one to reduce the hosts' lead to 6-3 after 20 minutes.

Skrela levelled the scores five minutes later after Montpellier's Argentinian fullback Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino was penalised for not releasing the ball after he had initially dropped the ball and then regathered it.

However, he was swamped by Clermont attackers and preferred to concede the penalty than give the ball up to his opponents.

Montpellier, though, regained the lead just after the half hour mark with the first try of the match.

Trinh-Duc was the creator as his delightful grubber kick into Clermont's try area was missed by the first Montpellier attacker but Nagusa made no mistake to touch the ball down for his second try of the season.

Paillaugue converted to make it 13-6 prompting Clermont coach Vern Cotter to send on Morgan Parra but it was the hosts who extended their lead thanks to another penalty by the Montpellier place kicker.

Clermont got right back into the match with a try by Portuguese international Julien Bardy, set up effectively by Julien Malzieu's break deep into Montpellier territory which was then worked back and passed through five pairs of hands before the Clermont flanker went over -Skrela converted to make it 16-13.

The hosts breathed a little easier as Paillaugue added another penalty to make it 19-13 and soon afterwards it was 22-13 as the Montpellier metronome slotted over another penalty.

Montpellier pulled out of sight with a stunning individual try by the electrifying Nagusa with 20 minutes remaining - Paillaugue converted to make it 29-13.

Parra, though, went over in the corner after being set up by fellow France team-mate Julien Bonnaire and then added a superb conversion from the touchline and with three minutes remaining Parra slotted a penalty to take them to within a converted try of a remarkable comeback win.

Castres 22-22 Toulon

Castres and Toulon battled out a 22-22 stalemate.

England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson kicked four of his five penalties to give Toulon a 19-6 lead at the interval.

His fifth came in the 79th minute which looked to have secured victory but Pierre Bernard held his nerve with a last-minute penalty to give Castres a draw.

Agen 24-15 Bordeaux-Begles

Agen won a hard-fought 24-15 victory over struggling Bordeaux Begles at the Stade Armandie, to put their play-off hopes back on track.

The two side's respective goal-kickers Conrad Barnard and Gerard Fraser kept the scoreboard ticking over in a dour first half that saw Agen in front 12-9 at half-time.

Barnard added three more penalties shortly after the break as the hosts pulled further clear.

Fraser landed a drop goal to give the visitors some hope of turning the game around in the final quarter, however they were rocked by the loss of lock Adam Jaulhac to a yellow card in the 61st minute and never recovered.

Barnard nailed the resulting kick on goal that sealed the deal for his team.

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