Top 14 Round 5 Review
- Gaetan Germain’s 76th-minute penalty secured a 29-26 win for Brive over European champions Toulon in the Top 14 on Saturday.
- Also wins for Clermont, Montpellier, Racing 92, Bordeaux, Stade Francais and Toulouse
- Clermont continues to top the table and are the only unbeaten side in the division
Brive 29-26 Toulon
In Saturday’s only game, Willie du Plessis missed a penalty after the final hooter that would have given Toulon a draw as the European champions fell to a shock 29-26 defeat at Brive on Saturday. Gaetan Germain’s penalty three minutes from time proved the difference as Toulon crucially missed four penalties during an off-colour performance.
Germain’s score looked to have given Brive victory but after the 80 minutes were up, they were penalised at their own scrum, giving fly-half Du Plessis a very kickable shot from 40 yards out. But the 25-year-old was forced to wait as the ball fell off the kicking tee, and he cracked under the pressure, dragging his effort wide.
Guillaume Ribes and Teddy Iribaren got tries either side of half-time, Germain converting both, as the Frenchman’s superior kicking handed the unfancied hosts a shock lead sa
Though two conversions for du Plessis on the back of Maxime Mermoz and Lachlan Turner tries handed the overwhelming favourites a stable platform, it was Germain’s impressive kicking performance, the 25-year-old fullback finishing with seven goals in total, which proved to be the difference.
Clermont 35-10 Pau
Clermont remains the only unbeaten team in France thanks to a bonus-point win over Pau. After drawing with Bordeaux last week, Les Jaunards dominated from the outset and quickly led 6-0 thanks to two successful kicks from their Camille Lopez
More penalties eventually saw Vincent Campo yellow carded, allowing Sebastien Vahaamahina to force his way over from close range. Santiago Fernandez cut the deficit to 11-3 soon after, but, just before the break, Clermont went over again, David Strettle finishing out wide after a long period of pressure.
Lopez missed the conversion but Clermont were still in control, and Marika Vunibaka’s sin-binning made their task easier once more. Again it was Vahaamahina who took advantage, running a fierce midfield line to score, Lopez converting for a 20-point lead.
Loic Jacquet scored Clermont’s fourth try, making sure of the bonus point before Vunibaka made up for his earlier card when he finished off an excellent team move for the visitors. Substitute Camille Gerondeau added Clermont’s fifth try of the day to cap another comfortable win for the league leaders.
Grenoble 19-30 Montpellier
Montpellier stayed second in the Top 14 thanks to their fourth win from five games. They led early on thanks to a penalty from Benoit Paillaugue, Jonathan Wisniewski subsequently matching him twice to make it 6-all after 33 minutes.
With four minutes left in the half, Jonathan Best was sin-binned for Grenoble, allowing Paillaugue to cut through and score the first try after a powerful scrum attack. He converted, but a Wisniewski penalty right on half-time made it 13-9 to the visitors at the break.
Wisniewski notched another penalty early in the second-half, but Paillaugue responded with his third penalty of the evening. A penalty try for Montpellier stretched their lead to 11 points, but Grenoble responded well after Kélian Galletier had been yellow carded.
A nervy final stanza followed, but Marvin O’Connor took full advantage of an error from Gio Aplon to score, François Trinh-Duc converting to round off the win.
Oyonnax 9-18 Racing 92
Racing made it four wins from five this season with a hard-fought win at Oyonnax. Racing were firmly on top early on, and after a Maxime Machenaud penalty, Johan Goosen scored the first try of the game, bursting through on the back of a scrum.
Two penalties from Nicky Robinson, Machenaud with one in reply, were all the two sides could produce in the rest of the first period as Racing took an 11-6 lead into the break.
Robinson added a third penalty to close the gap to two points after 55 minutes, but a try in the closing seconds from Louis Dupichot secured the win for Racing, denying Oyo a losing bonus point in the process.
Agen 16-31 Bordeaux
Bordeaux continued their impressive form of late with a comfortable win at Agen.
They led 6-3 thanks to two penalties from star man Baptiste Serin, before Blair Connor scored a try, reacting quickest to Jean-Marcellin Buttin’s grubber through.
Serin’s conversion made it 13-3, with Agen down to 14 after Bernard Nnomo was shown a yellow card and Serin added two more penalties before the break. Burton Francis managed two of his own for Agen and cut the deficit to ten points with another penalty in the opening stages of the second period.
Serin added another penalty, but Bordeaux had two tries disallowed to deny them a rip-roaring success. Arthur Joly crossed for Agen’s first try after another Serin penalty, converted by Francis, but once more the Bordeaux scrum-half kicked his goals to extend his side’s lead to 12 points before slotting over a drop goal late on.
Stade Français 22-9 Castres
Stade Français got back to winning ways with this steely win over Castres. A slow start to the season looked set to continue after a less than convincing start as Julien Dumora kicked an early penalty.
That lead lasted until midway through the first-half when Djibril Camara broke through to find finding Hugo Bonneval for the first try of the game, Jules Plisson improving to make it 7-3. Plisson added two more penalties before half-time, as Stade led 13-3 at the break.
The second-half was a tight affair, but two penalties each from Plisson and Geoffrey Palis made it 19-9 to the home side. And Plisson added another penalty with ten minutes remaining to lift themselves off the foot of the table.
Toulouse 39-22 La Rochelle
Toulouse returned to form with a fourth win in five but frustratingly missed out on a bonus point against La Rochelle.
La Rochelle took the lead after just six minutes thanks to a Zack Holmes penalty. Toulouse had to wait until the 22nd minute to get on the board as Toby Flood dummied his way under the posts, Flood converting before adding a penalty as the hosts began to take control. But David Roumieu forced his way over with half-time approaching to hand the visitors some hope, cutting the gap to two points.
Imanol Harinordoquy went off at half-time and his replacement, Grégory Lamboley, was next to score, finishing well on the back of a rolling maul. La Rochelle had a chance to come back into the tie with a line-out five metres out, but Lamboley stole well and, five minutes later, Toulouse had a third try, Joe Tekori striding into space before Florian Fritz finished. Sébastien Bezy converted to make it 22-8.
And Toulouse soon got their fourth, a deft chip over the top setting up territory for a switch play before Tala Gray coasted in. But La Rochelle battled back, first through Jules le Bail, then with a fine finish from Benjamin Lapeyre. Holmes converted both and La Rochelle were back to within seven points with 20 minutes to go.
However, Toulouse found another gear thereafter and a second Flood penalty pushed the lead back out to ten points. La Rochelle man Jean-Marc Doussain saw red for his part in a brawl soon after and the home side forced home their advantage late on, getting a fifth try at the death, Clerc reacting quickest to a chip kick from Flood, with the Englishman converting from the touchline with the last kick of the game.