French Top 14
Clermont close gap on Toulouse
ESPNscrum Staff
March 23, 2012
Clermont Auvergne's Alexandre Lapandry is tackled by Perpignan's Sebastien Taofifenua, Clermont Auvergne v Perpignan, French Top 14, Marcel Michelin stadium, Clermont-Ferrand, France, March 24, 2012
Clermont's Alexandre Lapandry is upended against Perpignan © Getty Images

David Skrela kicked 24 points as Clermont Auvergne moved to within a point of Top 14 leaders Toulouse with a 29-23 win over Perpignan.

The former France fly-half landed four penalties in either half to keep the pressure on Toulouse, who lost to Bordeaux on Friday night. Flanker Alexandre Lapandry scored the hosts' only try in the eighth minute while Perpignan ran in tries through Joffrey Michel and Adrien Plante. Wales international James Hook converted both tries and three penalties for Perpignan, who were level at 20-20 early in the second half. But Skrela's accuracy from the tee proved decisive for Clermont.

Former England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson booted 22 points to guide Toulon to a 32-20 victory over Racing Metro at the Stade Felix Mayol. Wilkinson kicked six penalties and two conversions to consolidate Toulon's standing in the top four.

Racing Metro went into the break with a point advantage after fullback Gaetan Germain had converted tries from Sireli Bobo and Henry Chavancy as well as landing two penalties. Wilkinson had kicked four penalties and converted Rooney's 26th minute try in response. However Wilkinson kicked two further penalties in the early stages of the second half and then converted Sebastien Tillous-Borde's try in the 61st minute. Toulon's defence did the rest as they shut out Racing for the rest of the match to claim the victory.

Bordeaux shocked Top 14 leaders Toulouse with an 18-17 victory at the Stade Chaban-Delmas on Friday night. France fly-half Lionel Beauxis gave Toulouse an early lead despite the sin-binning of centre Yann David in the sixth minute and kicked a further two penalties in the opening 40 minutes.

However his opposite number, Camille Lopez, landed four first-half penalties to put the hosts 12-9 up at half time. Beauxis levelled the scores after the break but Lopez booted two more three-pointers to give Bordeaux their ninth win of the season and condemn Toulouse to their second defeat in three matches. Toulouse winger Yves Donguy scored the only try of the match with five minutes remaining but the coversion went wide and Bordeaux clung on for the win.

Felipe Contepomi scored 26 points as Stade Francais thrashed Agen 53-27 on Saturday. The Argentina fly-half scored a try in each half as well as kicking two penalties and five conversions in Stade's victory. Sergio Parisse, David Lyons, Morgan Turinui, Julien Arias and Aled de Malmanche also touched down for the hosts.

Conrad Barnard responded to Contepomi's early penalty but Stade took full advantage of the sin-binning of Silvere Tian to score tries through Parisse and Lyons. Contepomi converted one of the tries before kicking another penalty and scoring his first try of the afternoon in the 29th minute, which he duly converted. Agen's hopes were raised just before the break as Belisario Agulla burst over and Barnard converted having kicked his second penalty of the day midway through the half.

Contepomi grabbed his second try two minutes into the second half. He converted his own effort before adding the extras to Turinui's try eight minutes later. With 20 minutes to go the Argentine was shown a yellow card and Agen pulled tries back through Tian and Jean Monribot. However further scores from Arias and de Malmanche ensured Stade broke the 50-point barrier.

Castres jumped above Montpellier and into the top four with a 27-18 victory over their rivals at the Stade Pierre-Antoine. The hosts were 14-5 to the good by half-time after fullback Romain Teulet added three penalties to Marc Andreu's early try. Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino touched down for the visitors to keep them in the hunt. After half time Romain Martail crossed for Castres second try with Teulet converting. And the Castres fullback kicked three more penalties to seal the win despite Martin Bustos Moyano landing two kicks for Montpellier as well as converting Alex Tulou's late try.

Biarritz recorded their third successive victory in the Top 14 with a 34-17 victory away at bottom club Lyon. Dimitri Yachvili, Taku Ngywenya, Imanol Harinordoquy and Dane Haylett-Petty all touched down for Biarritz as they went further away from the bottom of the table. Yachvili kicked all four conversions as well as two penalties to finish with a personal haul of 19 points. Former Springbok scrum-half Ricky Januarie, who was sent to the sin bin in the 53rd minute, and replacement Brice Salobert scored tries for Lyon. Fullback Romain Loursac kicked a conversion and penalty while Lee Thomas also landed a conversion for the hosts.

Benjamin Boyet scored 14 points as Bayonne beat Brive 19-12. The Bayonne fly-half slotted four penalties as well converting Lionel Mazars' try. Mathieu Belie kicked four penalties for Brive, who had Julien Caminati sent off.

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