Toulon extend Top 14 lead

Sat, 26 Jan 2013 13:07
Large chris masoe toulon Large jonny wilkinson toulon kick Large alexis palisson toulon

Toulon stretched their lead in the French Top 14 to seven points.

Toulon stretched their lead in the French Top 14 to seven points with a 15-9 win over rock-bottom Mont de Marsan while second-place Clermont slumped to a 26-19 loss at Perpignan.

Toulouse replaced Clermont in second place with a 19-14 win over Biarritz.

Both Toulon and Clermont will be playing in the European Cup quarter-finals in April, but both struggled to shrug off those celebrations and looked laboured ahead of a 10-day break for the domestic competition.

Mont de Marsan, with just one win all season, led 9-3 after just 18 minutes thanks to three penalties from Benat Arrayet.

But former All Black flank Chris Masoe and wing Alexis Palisson grabbed first half tries with Jonny Wilkinson kicking the other five points.

Mont de Marsan held their big-spending hosts pointless in the second half and earned a standing ovation at the final whistle after securing a losing bonus point.

"We will take two things out of this game - the win despite a mediocre performance and the reaction of the fans who applauded both teams," said Toulon coach Bernard Laporte whose side had lost to Racing-Metro in their last Top 14 outing.

"We were a little flat and this part of the season is always very difficult to manage. The 10 days vacation coming up will do us good. I have told the players - go where you want to and come back with enthusiasm."

Perpignan recorded a third win in their last four Top 14 outings with a 26-19 win over Clermont.

The victory was also sweet revenge for the 53-31 defeat they suffered to their rivals earlier in the season.

Clermont led 12-6 at the interval thanks to four Morgan Parra penalties with Welsh fly-half James Hook replying with two of his own.

But a try from lock forward Romain Taofifenua early in the second period set Perpignan on their way to victory with Hook adding three more penalties before David Mele kicked a last-minute drop goal to increase the lead.

Toulouse, surprisingly knocked out of the European Cup at the pool stage last weekend, saw off Biarritz to record a sixth win in their last seven Top 14 games.

Biarritz have not won at Toulouse in 12 years while the home side have not lost at their Ernest-Wallon ground since February 2010.

Results:
Agen 9 Montpellier 13
Bordeaux 15 Racing-Metro 22
Stade Francais 35 Grenoble 6
Perpignan 26 Clermont 19
Toulon 15 Mont de Marsan 9
Toulouse 19 Biarritz 14
Played Thursday
Bayonne 22 Castres 12

Top 14 table (under headings played, won, drawn, lost, points for, against, bonus points, points):
Toulon 16 13 0 3 459 237 9 61
Toulouse 16 12 0 4 432 289 6 54
Clermont 16 12 0 4 400 274 6 54
Montpellier 16 10 0 6 349 315 5 45
Castres 16 9 1 6 349 286 6 44
Grenoble 16 10 0 6 327 340 2 42
Perpignan 16 8 0 8 372 380 6 38
Racing-Metro 16 8 0 8 294 284 6 38
Stade Francais 16 8 1 7 376 376 3 37
Biarritz 16 8 0 8 303 309 5 37
Bayonne 16 6 0 10 257 366 6 30
Agen 16 3 0 13 248 420 7 19
Bordeaux 16 3 0 13 292 379 7 19
Mont de Marsan 16 1 0 15 222 425 5 9

AFP

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