Castres claimed a 37-23 bonus-point win over Brive at Stade-Pierre Antoine while Toulouse beat Montpellier 22-14 later on Sunday.
Castres 37-23 Brive
Castres secured a comprehensive 37-23 bonus-point victory over Brive at Stade-Pierre Antoine in an ill-tempered Top 14 match on Sunday.
The result means Brive have still not beaten Castres in 22 years and three months.
Castres began on the front foot, taking the game to Brive. They won a five-metre scrum after Benjamin Urdapilleta's grubber kick was taken back over his try-line by Gaetan Germain. Florian Vialelle was the receiver from the set-piece and the inside centre didn't disappoint, showing an excellent shimmy to scythe through the Brive defence. Urdapilleta made no mistake with the conversion, as the hosts took an early 7-0 lead after five minutes.
Matthieu Ugalde responded for Brive with a penalty to cut the deficit to four at 7-3 after Castres were penalised for offside. It took 18 minutes for Brive to register their first try.
It all came from a missed Castres throw at the lineout. Brive surged upfield, taking the ball through numerous phases, eventually leading to a brilliant offload from Brive number eight Petrus Hauman for loose forward partner Dominiko Waqaniburotu to break clean through and have enough pace to make the fourty metres to the try-line. Ugalde's conversion gave Brive the one-point lead at 8-7.
The fly-halves exchanged penalties as the lead changed hands a couple of times before Castres asserted their dominance.
They began wearing down Brive, taking the ball through numerous phases, including a beautiful outside break from Vialelle. Thereafter, Rory Kockott made a sniping break, showing decent acceleration to race away from the Brive defence, before dotting down. Urdapilleta added the extras for a 20-11 lead with five minutes until the interval.
Two minutes after the resumption of the second half, Castres were handicapped when their replacement hooker Marc-Antoine Rallier was yellow carded for a high, off-the-ball hit. This meant that loosehead prop Antoine Tichit had to fill in at hooker.
Tempers began to boil over, with Felix Le Bourhois and Robert Ebersohn yellow-carded for an off-the-ball scuffle. After Castres were penalised for going off their feet, Brive opted for touch aand the 10-metre attacking lineout. They shifted the ball right with the driving maul. After a couple of pick and goes, substitute scrum-half Samuel Marquez darted down the blindside, through a gap and over. Ugalde's conversion meant the visitors were well and truly back in the game, trailing narrowly 23-18 with a quarter of the match to go.
But Castres hit back instantly. Maama Vaipulu made a beautiful sniping break from the back of the scrum, before laying the ball on his inside for David Smith, who was brought down just inches short. However, substitute scrum-half Yohan Domenech did enough to dot down from the pick and go. Urdapilleta's conversion took the lead out to 30-18 as the sin-binned returned to the field.
With ten minutes to go, Vaipulu went over at the back of an unstoppable Castres scrum with Urdapilleta converting for a 37-18 lead.
More indiscipline threatened to spoil the game as Castres substitute prop Eric Sione joined those yellow carded for a no-arms tackle with eight minutes to go, meaning both sides would finish the game with 14 men.
Germain and Benito Masilevu scored further tries for Brive, meaning the prospect of a try-bonus point all but disappeared for Castres as they ran out 37-28 winners.
Tries: Vialelle, Kockott, Domenech, Tulou
Cons: Urdapilleta 4
Pens: Urdapilleta 3
Yellow Cards: Rallier, Ebersohn, Sione
Tries: Waqaniburotu, Marques, Germain, Masilevu
Pens: Germain 2
Yellow Card: Le Bourhis
Castres: 15 Julien Dumo, 14 Armand Batlle, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 David Smith, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Steve Mafi, 6 Anthony Jelonch, 5 Victor Moreaux, 4 Thibault Lassalle, 3 Daniel Kotze, 2 Jody Jenneker, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Tudor Stroe, 18 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 19 Alex Tulou, 20 Yohan Domenech, 21 Taylor Paris, 22 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 23 Eric Sione
Brive: 15 Gaetan Germain, 14 Alfi Mafi, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Felix Le Bourhis, 11 Benito Masilevu, 10 Matthieu Ugalde 9 Florian Cazenave, 8 Petrus Hauman, 7 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 6 Etienne Herjean, 5 Jan Uys, 4 Damien Lagrange, 3 James Johnston, 2 Francois Da Ros, 10 Matthieu Ugalde, 1 Julien Brugnaut
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Naama Leleimalefaga, 18 Peet Marais, 19 Said Hireche, 20 Samuel Marques, 21 Nicolas Bezy, 22 Sevenaia Galala, 23 Sila Puafisi
Referee: Laurent Cardona
Assistant referees: Herve Lasausa Lespy Labaylette, Patrick Pechambert
TMO: Eric Gauzin
Toulouse 22-14 Montpellier
Toulouse claimed an impressive 22-14 victory over league leaders Montpellier at Stade Ernest Wallon, moving them up to third in the Top 14.
This result takes them above Toulon, who went down to a shock loss at Oyonnax on Saturday, in the standings and five points behind Montpol.
It was a deserved victory for Toulouse as they recovered from going 7-0 down with a performance full of gusto that will please their fans.
A scoreless first 35 minutes finally ended when wing Nemani Nadolo barged over from close range, with Francois Steyn adding the conversion.
But Toulouse hit back in the final play of the half when Yoann Maestri did likewise under the uprights for a try converted by Thomas Ramos.
The second-half though saw Toulouse kick on as flanker Francois Cros went over on the back of a dominant scrum near the left sideline. And with Ramos adding a penalty after his missed conversion the hosts led 15-7 before Paul Willemse was yellow carded for side entry at a maul.
Toulouse capitalised on the numerical advantage when Zack Holmes stepped his way over to make it 22-7 and despite Montpellier being awarded a penalty try following a strong scrum of their own, Toulouse saw out the game to pick up four key points while Montpol leave with nothing.
Tries: Maestri, Cros, Holmes
Cons: Ramos 2
Tries: Nadolo, Penalty try
Yellow Card: Willemse
Toulouse: 15 Maxime Medard, 14 Wandile Mjekevu, 13 Zack Holmes, 12 Florian Fritz, 11 Cheslin Kolbe, 10 Thomas Ramos, 9 Sebastien Bezy, 8 Gillian Galan, 7 Rynhard Elstadt, 6 Francois Cros, 5 Yoann Maestri, 4 Joe Tekori, 3 Dorian Aldegheri, 2 Julien Marchand, 1 Rodrigue Neti
Replacements: 16 David Roumieu, 17 Danie Mienie, 18 Piula Faasalele, 19 Louis-Benoit Madaule, 20 Florian Verhaeghe, 21 Jean-Marc Doussain, 22 Yoann Huget, 23 Charlie Faumuina
Montpellier: 15 Henry Immelman, 14 Vincent Martin, 13 Alexandre Dumoulin, 12 Joseph Tomane, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Francois Steyn, 9 Enzo Sanga, 8 Louis Picamoles, 7 Martin Devergie, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg, 3 Jannie du Plessis, 2 Romain Ruffenach, 1 Gregory Fichten
Replacements: 16 Bismarck du Plessis, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Jimi Maximin, 19 Kevin Kornath, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Jesse Mogg, 22 Gabriel Ngandebe, 23 Davit Kubriashvili
Referee: Adrien Descottes
Assistant referees: Tual Trainini, Jean-Claude Labarbe
TMO: Maxime Chalon