Brunel winds down with Bordeaux win
TOP 14 WRAP: Bordeaux-Begles gave Jacques Brunel the perfect send off in what will likely be his final home match in charge before becoming France coach with a 29-19 win over La Rochelle.
Montpellier took over the top spot from La Rochelle as Fijian wing Timoci Nagusa scored a hat-trick in a bonus-point 38-17 victory over Lyon.
Brunel told his players this past Friday that his final match in charge would be next week's trip to Stade Francais with French rugby president Bernard Laporte expected to sack veteran Guy Noves on December 27.
"I would like to point out that I will only speak about the match, I will not answer about anything else - this should not surprise you," said 63-year-old Brunel as he brushed off the national team speculation.
Australian veteran Brock James kicked a penalty to give La Rochelle the lead but the game changed when Kevin Gourdon was sin-binned for a deliberate knock-on.
Bordeaux capitalised as Matthieu Jalibert kicked two penalties and a conversion after Geoffrey Cros intercepted a poor miss-pass from Vincent Rattez on the La Rochelle 22 to cross for the first try.
Two penalties each for Jalibert and James made it 19-9 before Dubie was sent off 20 minutes from time for a rash high tackle on Rattez.
La Rochelle kicked to the corner and this time caught their own line-out before driving bulky Samoan back row forward Afa Amosa over the line.
But indiscipline cost them again as Jalibert was given a chance to kick a fifth penalty and extend the lead to more than a converted try.
Peni Ravai then dived over the line from close range late on to seal victory before Charles Bouldoire went over in the corner to score a consolation for La Rochelle a minute from time.
Lyon was off to a fast start in Montpellier as Australian flank Liam Gill burrowed over after just four minutes for a try converted by Jonathan Pelissie.
But Montpellier came storming back as powerhouse No.8 Louis Picamoles twice barged through a posse of defenders to score.
Lyon's defensive line went missing at the start of the second half, allowing Fijian wing Nagusa to pick up from the back of a ruck and run in unopposed.
Francois Steyn, at last, managed to dissect the sticks for the hosts but Lyon hit straight back as Thibaut Regard ran a beautiful line to take a reverse pass back inside from No.8 Toa Halafihi to score under the posts.
Pelissie converted before Australian fly-half Mike Harris added a penalty to level at 17-all.
Steyn missed a drop-goal and then another penalty - Montpellier's fifth miss from six - but then went on a mazy, weaving run before sending Nagusa in for a second try.
Moments later Steyn showed his brilliance running with the ball in hand again with a show-and-go to break the gainline before a perfectly weighted chip ahead sat up kindly for Nagusa to score his hat-trick.
Benoit Paillaugue nailed both kicks from wide on the right and Montpellier were home and dry, but there was still time for Australian centre Joe Tomane to catch a short line-out and waltz over as Lyon switched off again.
In later games, defending champions Clermont were on course for a first away win of the season but slipped to a last-minute 22-21 defeat at Pau.
With the clock ticking down, Clermont's young Georgian prop Beka Kakabadze was yellow-carded for violent play and Tom Taylor kept his cool to slot over the winning penalty for Pau.
Three-time European champions Toulon overturned a 19-18 half-time deficit at home to rock-bottom Oyonnax to win 49-25 on the back of six tries.
Castres downed Stade Francais 28-6 for a sixth successive win to move up to third in the table.