This 6th week of French Top 14 opened with an apparent mismatch between Bayonne and Toulouse, while the two marquee match-ups were Biarritz at Racing-Metro and Castres at Toulon.
After Toulouse’s heavy loss last week in Barcelona to Perpignan, the apple cart was ready to tip… or so the Bayonnais may have hoped… The Rouges et Noirs came to claim an easy win, with Luke McAlister scoring a try, three penalties and three conversions. The result? 6-35 Stade Toulousain.
Biarritz vs Racing-Metro ended up being a poor game; the physicality and kicking game took over on offense. Biarriz, even without the two international players Imanol Harinordoquy and Dimitri Yachvili, nearly came back from the French capital with the W. But an intercepted kick and failed chase from winger Benoît Baby of Parisian winger Julien Saubade, proved to be crucial in such a close game. 13-12 Paris.
After 5 consecutive victories, Toulon hosted always-solid Castres Olympique. An early steal by Aussie Matt Gitteau put Toulon in the lead. Former XV de France’s coach Bernard Laporte started Frédéric Michalak as scrum-half and Jonny Wilkinson as fly-half. The former delivered a magical pass to his hooker Orioli, who broke the line for a try. The latter scored three penalties, three conversions and one drop-goal with the left foot, s’il-vous-plaît! David Smith gave the Bonus Point to the RCT after an easy run through Castres’ defence. 33-12 Toulon.
Other games involved Perpignan at Stade Français. The men in pink desperately needed points as they had not come up with a win since their first game. Former USAP player Jerome Porical did his former teammates great harm, scoring 23 points. Despite great inspiration from Welsh fly-half James Hook, who kicked to winger Haughton while everyone thought he was kicking a penalty on his own 22. USAP left the capital without the Bonus Point. 34-24 Paris.
Montpellier claimed the bonus point at Bordeaux-Bègles (15-23), while Agen gave a severe blow at Stade Montois by winning 16-28 in Mont-de-Marsan. With zero points after 6 games, it is a sad state of affairs for les Montois.
Last but not least, Clermont hosted Grenoble. While the victory came easily, the Jaunards had to fight to get the Bonus Point, as Grenoble is proving to be a fierce team. 44-20 ASM. 5 tries were scored for Clermont; one by record-holder Aurélien Rougerie who scored his 84th try in Top 14, two from rising star Wesley Fofana, one from Perpignan recruit Damien Chouly and a last one from former Top 14 top scorer Napolioni Nalaga, who came back from “retirement“.
NEXT WEEK: An explosive Toulouse vs Toulon match – even though Laporte is sending a B side… The Basque Derby with Biarritz vs Bayonne and a decisive game for the relegation between Agen and Bordeaux-Bègles.