La Rochelle stun leaders in battle of French attrition
TOP 14 WRAP: French Top 14 leaders Lyon slumped to a first home defeat this season as title rivals La Rochelle clinched a rain-swept Top 14 battle of attrition 19-15 on Saturday.
Missing 11 players, including star flyhalf and kicker Lionel Beauxis as well as skipper and backrow stalwart Julien Puricelli, Lyon struggled to impose any sort of authority at the Stade Gerland.
Veteran flyhalf Frederic Michalak kicked all of their points while La Rochelle, playing without four first-choice stars away on international duty, grabbed the only try from scrumhalf Alexis Bales in the 53rd minute.
Despite the defeat, Lyon collected a losing bonus point and remain three points ahead of La Rochelle and five in front of Montpellier, who host Clermont on Sunday.
Pau coach Simon Mannix blasted highly-rated referee Romain Poite after his team lost 23-20 at Racing 92, going down to a 78th-minute converted try when they had two players in the sin-bin.
Pau, leading 20-18, had to play the last five minutes with just 13 men after All Blacks wing Conrad Smith and full-back Charlie Malie were both yellow-carded.
The visitors gamely defended but their desperate resistance was finally breached when replacement centre Marc Andreu grabbed Racing's second try of the game.
"Romain Poite is a great referee at international level, but tonight I do not understand his decisions," said Mannix.
"I'm going to calm down, but if our two yellow cards were deserved, he did not give decisions in our favour. That's expensive and that pisses me off.
"But I'm proud of my guys, they gave everything."
Tongan wing Frank Halai scored Pau's only try with All Blacks flyhalf Colin Slade booting 15 points.
Toulouse held on for a topsy-turvy 38-37 victory over Bordeaux-Begles as teenager Matthieu Jalibert missed a long-range penalty after the final buzzer.
Jalibert's last-gasp miss, that shaved the outside of the post, ruined what had otherwise been a faultless display from the 18-year-old who kicked 17 of his team's points.
But Toulouse scraped through in a nine-try feast won by Samoan lock Joe Tekori's try eight minutes from time converted by Thomas Ramos.
"We went through every state: scoring 24 points in 16 minutes and then after 20 minutes conceding 34 where we went off the rails," said Toulouse coach Ugo Mola.
"It's almost too much to be true. We're the only ones who can go from indisputable talent to catastrophic mistakes."
It was a controversial ending as moments earlier, Bordeaux, leading 37-31 at the time, seemed to have killed the game off with a fifth try of their own, only to have the score chalked off for obstruction.
That gave Toulouse a penalty they kicked to the corner before winning the line-out and driving Tekori over.