Top 14 Orange
Toulouse keep rolling on as Clermont falter
ESPNscrum Staff
December 31, 2011

Toulouse kept alive their lead at the summit of the Top 14 Orange with a remarkable 30-15 victory over Bayonne at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Friday night.

Defeat leaves big-spending Bayonne almost 30 points off the pace set by the hosts, who picked up the points in this encounter thanks to the visitors' lack of discipline.

Toulouse fly-half Lionel Beauxis kicked all of his side's points, landing eight penalties as well as two drop-goals either side of the interval.

Bayonne trailed by three points at the break thanks to two kicks from playmaker Benjamin Boyet and one from fullback Cedric Heymans, but they were unable to muster anything other than one further penalty in the second period.

Both teams were reduced to 14 men on 57 minutes following a coming together between Florian Fritz and Rob Linde, while Bayonne ended the game without a full complement following the sin-binning of replacement Denis Avril.

Title hopefuls Clermont Auvergne missed out on a chance to further pressurise the leaders, being held 6-6 by a gritty Lyon side at Matmut Stadium on Saturday.

Two penalties from former Wasps fullback Mark van Gisbergen were enough to secure a share of the spoils for the home side, who are scrapping to pull clear of basement boys Biarritz. Clermont briefly led in the second-half thanks to David Skrela's 51st-minute drop-goal, but van Gisbergen levelled the scores 10 minutes later. Morgan Parra slotted Clermont's only other points in a disappointing display.

Castres secured a place among the 'best of the rest' for New Year, having comfortably seen off the challenge of ailing Perpignan 33-6 at the Stade Pierre Antoine.

The visitors managed only two penalties from the boot of Wales fly-half James Hook, with a late flurry of tries - while Perpignan youngster Romain Taofifenua was in the bin - ensuring a bonus point for the hosts. Former Sharks scrum-half Rory Kockott weighed in with a 71st minute score and also landed 16 points from the kicking tee, while the impressive Steve Malonga and replacement Pierre Bernard also crossed, leaving Castres in the play-off picture at the turn.

Former Northampton fullback Bruce Reihana was among the points as Bordeaux routed Stade Francais 39-6 at the Stade Andre Moga.

The Kiwi converted four of his side's five tries in a comfortable victory, one which could prove to be vital in the race to avoid relegation. A try on the stroke of half-time from fly-half Camille Lopez gave the hosts impetus at the changeover and Stade failed to contain them as the clock wore on.

Former Reds wing Blair Connor bagged a brace of tries - in the 44th and 79th minutes - with Heini Adams and Louis-Benoit Madaule also registering scores. Stade mustered two first-half penalties from Felipe Contepomi in response, with the Argentinian playmaker one of three Stade players to see yellow in the second period.

Montpellier kept pace in a congested mid-table with a 29-14 victory over Racing Metro at the Stade Olympique Yves du Manoir on Saturday.

Last season's beaten finalists survived an early setback - Remy Vaquin's eighth-minute try for the visitors - to wrestle control of the game, scoring four unanswered tries to wrap up a comfortable win. France flanker Fulgence Ouedraogo was joined on the scoresheet by Pumas Lucas Gonzalez Amorosino and Santiago Fernandez, while giant Fijian No.8 Masi Matadigo rounded off their efforts. Sireli Bobo crossed in the dying seconds for Racing and converted his own try - denying Montpellier a possibly vital bonus point.

At the Stade Armandie it was also a tale of two kickers as Agen picked up a 15-9 victory over Brive.

Conrad Barnard was successful with five penalty attempts for the home side, with Julien Caminati responding with a hat-trick of his own. The Brive winger ended the game in the sin-bin, along with flanker Simon Azoulai, as his side let desperation get the better of them.

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