Toulouse and Stade go down
Sat, 17 Aug 2013 19:53
Toulouse and Stade Francais, with 32 French titles between them, slumped to defeat in their French Top 14 openers on Saturday as defending champions Castres prepared to begin their defence at Perpignan.
Toulouse, champions as recently as 2011 and 2012, were defeated 31-25 by a Bordeaux-Begles side who finished third bottom last season while Stade Francais, last crowned champions in 2007, and who were 10th last season, went down 19-16 at Grenoble.
Fijian full-back Metuisela Talebula scored Bordeaux's only try of the game after 31 minutes with Pierre Bernard adding the conversion after former All Black Luke McAlister had hit three early penalties for Toulouse, last season's beaten semi-finalists.
Bernard was successful with three other penalties as the home side enjoyed a 16-12 lead at the break.
After two more penalties for both sides early in the second half, Toulouse were back in the lead at 25-22 in the 66th minute when former Highlander Hosea Gear crossed for a try with Kiwi compatriot McAlister adding the conversion.
But Toulouse paid for their persistent indiscipline with Bernard, who finished with 25 points, knocking over three more penalties, including two in the last five minutes to secure victory.
Grenoble over-turned a 9-6 half-time deficit to beat Stade Francais 19-16.
Australian hooker Anthony Hegarty grabbed Grenoble's only try, five minutes into the second half with full-back Julien Arias replying for Stade just before the hour.
In the final analysis, Valentin Courrent's greater accuracy with the boot for his 14-point haul proved greater than the 12 points kicked by rival Julien Dupuy.
Ambitious Racing Metro opened with a 19-14 home win over Brive with Irish international fly-half Jonathan Sexton marking his debut with two penalties and the successful conversion of Benjamin Lapeyre.
Clermont were made to work in their first Top 14 clash of the new season but ultimately took home the points with a 22-18 success at Biarritz.
New Zealand international centre Regan King crossed the tryline for the visitors while Australian fly-half Brock James kicked 17 points.
Biarritz scored tries through scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili and young winger Teddy Thomas but had to content themselves with a defensive bonus point for keeping the score to within seven points.
While Clermont might have been hoping for a more dominant display, they can at least be satisfied that they have stolen a march on one of their main title rivals as European champions Toulon were held to a 22-22 draw at Montpellier on Friday.
In Saturday's other match, Bayonne ran in four tries in a 39-11 romp against promoted Oyonnax.
French Top 14 results:
Biarritz 18 Clermont 22
Racing Metro 19 Brive 14
Grenoble 19 Stade Francais 16
Bordeaux-Begles 31 Toulouse 25
Bayonne 39 Oyonnax 11
Montpellier 22 Toulon 22
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