Top 14 - Round 23
Toulon earn bonus-point win over Stade
ESPN Staff
March 29, 2013

Toulon underlined their title credentials with a bonus-point 43-11 victory away to Stade Francais under the closed roof of the Grand Stade de Lille.

Jonny Wilkinson got the scoring underway with two penalties and a drop-goal before Juan Martin Fernandez-Lobbe linked up with Delon Armitage to score the opening try that Wilkinson converted. Stade were without a number of their leading players, notably captain Sergio Parisse and scrum-half Julien Dupuy and the Parisians could only respond with two penalties from fly-half Jules Plisson that meant they went in trailing 19-6 at half-time.

Stade wing Waisea Vuidravuwalu scored early in the second half to bring the hosts back into contention, but Toulon quickly rediscovered their stride and fullback Hugo Bonneval beat Delon Armitage to the ball to deny the fullback a score.

Alexis Palisson scored Toulon's second try after a counter-attack from David Smith, Chris Masoe grabbed a third and Steffon Armitage capped a flowing counter-attack to earn Toulon the try-scoring bonus point.

Clermont Auvergne maintained their pursuit with an equally impressive 66-21 win over Agen at their Stade Marcel Michelin fortress that keeps them two points beind Toulon in second place.

France centre Wesley Fofana ran in a hat-trick of tries and there were a brace apiece for Fijian wings Napolioni Nalaga and Noa Nakaitaci. Fullback Anthony Floch, flanker Gerhard Vosloo and substitute Jean-Marcel Buttin also scored tries, eight of which were converted by scrum-half Morgan Parra.

Veteran France international Vincent Clerc scored a late try to give Toulouse a 27-26 win away to Racing Metro.

It was the wing's second try of the match, but it needed substitute Lionel Beauxis to land the conversion to wrap up the win. The loss was tough on Racing, for whom fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski scored all their points with a try and and six of their seven penalties. However, his yellow card nine minutes from time allowed Toulouse to use their numeric superiority to build up the momentum to snatch a late win.

Scotland wing Max Evans scored an early try as Castres edged Perpignan 21-20. Rory Kockott added a second towards the end and it appeared that Castres were on their way to a comfortable away win as all Perpignan had to show were two James Hook penalties.

However, Evans' fellow Scot Alasdair Strokosch crossed for the Catalans' first try with nine minutes remaining and when Sebastien Taofifenua scored a second with four minutes to go, Castres were left to hold on desperately for the win.

On the Atlantic coast Bordeaux-Begles put in an impressive display to beat Bayonne 39-13.

Hooker Ole Avei started the try-scoring and after wing Rafael Caballo and flanker Louis Madaule scored, Marvin O'Connor pulled one back for the Basques. However, a second from Madaule and a touchdown from No.8 Matthew Clarkin put the sheen on an impressive showing from Raphael Ibanez's team.

Sometime France fly-half Francois Trinh Duc scored the first of five tries as Montpellier beat bottom side Mont-de-Marsan 30-17.

Former Leicester wing Lucas Ambrosino scored the south-coast team's second and centre Hamish Gard added a third midway through the second period. Mont hit back with tries from second-row Wame Lewaravu and wing Julien Cabannes, but by then the match was out of reach.

On Friday Taku Ngwenya and Erik Lund grabbed a try apiece and Dmitri Yachvili kicked 17 points as Biarritz came good in the second half to beat Grenoble 33-16.

Biarritz took their time to find their stride, but an early penalty and a long-range effort from centre Benoit Baby gave the Basque side an early lead. Grenoble hit back midway through the half though and took the lead after they were awarded a penalty try after their rolling maul was collapsed. Scrum-half James Hart converted to give the Alpine side the lead.

Yachvili hit back with a second penalty and Baby added another from distance to re-establish Biarritz's control, but just before half-time Lund was penalised for not releasing in the tackle and fly-half Jonathan Pelissie kicked the penalty to leave his side trailing 12-10 at the break.

At the start of the second half Yachvili and Pelissie exchanged penalties, but the scrum-half added two more to leave Grenoble chasing the game and their task was made more difficult till when Florian Ninard was sent to the sin-bin for playing the ball on the ground. Ngwenya then used his speed to put the flourish on a swift counter-attack and four minutes from time Lund pounced on Yachvili's nudge through to score their second try.

1 Toulon 23 17 0 6 686 384 +302 58 25 10 4 82
2 Clermont Auvergne 23 17 0 6 647 372 +275 66 28 7 5 80
3 Toulouse 23 16 0 7 620 445 +175 56 31 6 3 73
4 Castres 23 14 1 8 504 420 +84 38 28 3 5 66
5 Racing Metro 23 14 0 9 433 375 +58 25 24 1 6 63
6 Montpellier 23 14 0 9 484 458 +26 43 31 4 3 63
7 Perpignan 23 12 0 11 523 506 +17 41 36 2 7 57
8 Biarritz 23 11 1 11 425 474 -49 26 34 1 4 51
9 Grenoble 23 11 0 12 424 494 -70 30 45 1 4 49
10 Stade Français 23 10 1 12 514 603 -89 36 50 2 2 46
11 Bayonne 23 9 1 13 368 526 -158 22 47 1 6 45
12 Bordeaux Begles 23 7 0 16 519 494 +25 48 33 4 9 41
13 Agen 23 5 0 18 359 623 -264 26 56 0 7 27
14 Mont-de-Marsan 23 2 0 21 315 647 -332 18 65 1 6 15

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