Toulon, Racing back on track in Top 14

Sun, 28 Aug 2016 07:24
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TOP 14 ROUND TWO WRAP: Top 14 heavyweights Racing 92 and Toulon put their opening day blues behind them on Saturday, bouncing back with wins over Lyon and Pau on the second day of French rugby union action.

Toulouse continued their unbeaten run with a 22-17 victory over Bordeaux-Bègles which lifts them to the summit of the Top 14 table after two days.

"It's a positive outcome from the first two matches, but concerning the content, there is a lot of work to do," said Toulouse coach Ugo Mola.

Defending champions Racing, who failed to score a try in their opening 9-15 defeat by Raphael Ibanez's Bordeaux-Begles, got back on track at their home ground in Colombes, outside Paris, with a 29-16 win.

Racing took advantage of a Delon Armitage yellow card on 44 minutes to touch down with a third try from Luc Ducalcon (47) to claim a bonus point to boot.

"We lacked a bit of patience in the first period," said Racing forwards coach Laurent Travers.

"It took time to get into the game, we lacked pace in the first half, but we knew not to panic.

"And in the second half we had a first twenty minutes of high quality that allowed us to take the bonus point. But there's room for improvement, particularly in terms of control."

The champions will next host new leaders Toulouse who came through a difficult home tie against Bordeaux-Begles, to go top with eight points, which means they cannot be caught by Clermont or Montpellier who play on Sunday.

Toulouse had been trailing 9-12 in the second half but pulled back thanks to the boot of Sebastien Bezy before going clear on 68 minutes with a Julien Marchand try.

"It's a second victory and even if it wasn't pretty it's good for confidence," said Toulouse centre Gael Fickou. 

But following their opening success over Racing, Bordeaux claimed a bonus defensive point thanks to Jean-Marcellin Buttin's late try (72).

Toulon, who lost in the final to Racing at Barcelona's Camp Nou last season, also assured a win after last week's blow against Bayonne.

The 2014 champions were indebted to the boot of Wales full-back Leigh Halfpenny, who kicked 17 points, while Charles Ollivon grabbed their only try in their 22-18 victory over Pau.

Toulon were outscored by two tries to one, but held off a spirited Pau fightback late on to seal the win.

"It's not a secret, we need more time and work before finding a more fluid game," said Toulon coach Diego Dominguez.

"But it's still a good result after the work we put in, and even if we saw some things that were not pretty, we tried and we won, which will give confidence to everyone."

Racing's neighbours, Stade Francais however failed to confirm their opening success against Grenoble (54-20), falling 28-20 at Brive in a hot-headed clash which saw five yellow cards - four for the hosts - handed out.

The Parisians have not won in Corrèze since 2006. Evenly balanced 16-13 at the break the visitors were punished by the boot of Gaëtan Germain, who won his duel with French international flyhalf Jules Plisson, who squandered 12 points.

La Rochelle got off to a good start with a Zeno Kieft try from almost 100 metres out to claim their first away win in over 18 months as Bernard Jackman's Grenoble suffered their second straight loss.

Bayonne and Castres played out a 12-12 draw.

All Bayonne's points came from the boot of Willem Du Plessis, with Benjamin Urdapilleta accounting for all of Castres.

Agence France-Presse