Montpellier add to Toulouse misery

Sun, 19 Feb 2017 18:29
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TOP 14 WRAP: Montpellier stayed on course for the Top 14 play-offs with a 27-18 win over Toulouse on Sunday, a result which left the slumping 19-time French champions marooned in mid-table.

Montpellier ran in three tries to stay third although their failure to secure a bonus point was good news for leading duo Clermont and La Rochelle who are eight points ahead with eight games left in the regular season.

South African international brothers Jannie and Bismarck du Plessis were missing for Montpellier after returning home for their father Francois's funeral.

But their teammates were never in danger, building up a 13-3 lead at the interval thanks to a try from lock forward Paul Willemse on 27 minutes and eight points from the boot of replacement centre Willie du Plessis.

Fijian winger Timoci Nagusa extended Montpellier's lead on 43 minutes with an interception try with centre Yvan Reilhac adding a third score 20 minutes later.

Toulouse scored second-half tries from Census Johnston and Alexis Palisson but their failure to boot three penalties proved costly.

Castres are fourth after a deserved 29-17 win at Bordeaux-Begles.

The visitors had only scored seven tries on the road all season but that haul reached double figures thanks to first-half tries from Horacio Agulla and Anthony Jelonch with Marc-Antoine Rallier crossing after the break.

Julien Dumora, a last minute stand-in for Argentine fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta, added 12 points with his boot.

Castres manager Christophe Urios commented: "The two important things here were the team spirit, you saw a team that knuckles down in the face of a storm, we never let up, and then the physical aspect, we broke them on that front.

"This is an important moment for us the team, for the fans. With a lot of humility it seems to me that we were stronger than Bordeaux today."

For Bordeaux the defeat stretched their winless run to seven, leaving them ninth, seven points shy of the play-off positions.

Despite their two first-half tries from Luke Jones and Yann Lesgourgues, Bordeaux lacked bite as Castres controlled the game to boost their play-off chances.

Bordeaux boss Raphael Ibanez was frank in his assessment of his team's poor performance.

"In our preparation and the way we approached the match we weren't at the same level as our rivals. And I take responsibility for that. We'll go away and take stock, rediscover our strength," he said.

On Saturday, defending champions Racing 92 put Dan Carter's drink-driving shock behind them with a 33-25 win over Brive as Clermont grabbed pole position after a 46-27 victory over rock-bottom Bayonne.

Clermont's six-try win moved them above La Rochelle who earlier downed Stade Francais 37-18.

Saturday Results:

La Rochelle 37 Stade Francais 18
Clermont 46 Bayonne 27
Pau 39 Grenoble 22
Racing 33 Brive 25
Toulon 31 Lyon 17

Sunday Results:

Bordeaux-Begles 17 Castres 29
Montpellier 27 Toulouse 18

Top 14 table (played, won, drawn, lost, points for, points against, bonus points, total points):

Clermont        18 11 3  4 543 378 8 58

La Rochelle     18 11 3  4 476 331 8 58

Montpellier     18 11 0  7 461 396 6 50

Castres         18 10 1  7 467 364 5 47

Toulon          18  9 1  8 439 380 8 46

Pau             18 10 0  8 443 432 6 46

Racing92        18 10 1  7 442 394 3 45

Toulouse        18  9 0  9 366 360 6 42

Bordeaux        18  8 1  9 414 417 5 39

Brive           18  8 1  9 391 447 2 36

Stade Français  18  7 1 10 415 468 4 34

Lyon            18  6 2 10 357 430 5 33

Grenoble        18  4 0 14 414 576 7 23

Bayonne         18  4 2 12 303 558 0 20

Agence France-Presse

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