Top 14 - Round Two Review
Montpellier upset champions Perpignan
August 21, 2009
Montpellier's Francois Trinh-Duc evades the Perpignan defence © Getty Images
Iain Balshaw Vincent Clerc Jean-Baptiste Elissalde James Haskell Cedric Heymans Brock James Frederic Michalak Tom Palmer Francois Trinh-Duc
Reigning champions Perpignan were handed a shock 18-12 defeat by Montpellier in the second round of France's Top 14.
Having got their season underway with a 28-20 win over Bayonne last weekend, Perpignan were undone by 18 points from the boot of fly-half Benedict Paillaugue at the Stade Yves du Manoir.
In response the champions could muster only penalties from David Mele and Nicholas Laharrague and had fullback Phillip Burger red carded after the whistle for remonstrating with the referee.
News of Perpignan's failure will have been greeted by smiles in the Toulouse camp following their comprehensive 38-0 win over a poor Brive at the Stade Ernest Wallon.
Toulouse were ahead early thanks to Cedric Heymans' try, but it was fly-half Jean-Baptiste Elissalde who inflicted the most damage with a first-half haul of 14 points from two penalties, two drop goals and two conversions.
Maxime Medard extended the lead further with a try just after the break, and while Brive failed to contrive any meaningful resistance Vincent Clerc and replacement centre Remy Lamerat were all too happy to wrap up a bonus point with tries in the final 10 minutes.
Clermont Auvergne also notched a bonus-point, cruising to a 37-16 home win over Montauban.
Clermont went in at the break with a commanding 23-6 lead thanks to tries from Aurelien Rougerie and Anthony Floch, with fly-half Brock James steady as ever from the kicking tee. Recently acquired scrum-half Morgan Parra also chipped in with a drop-goal.
Julien Laharrague struck back for Montauban, after Brent Russell had further extended Clermont's lead with a try ten minutes after the break. Floch bagged his second score with minutes on the clock, before Clermont lock Jamie Cudmore and Abdellatif Boutaty were sent to the sin bin to cool off with moments remaining.
Iain Balshaw's first-half brace powered Biarritz to a 39-6 victory over newly-promoted Albi, the former Gloucester winger enjoying himself in a one-sided contest. Julien Peyrelongue chipped in with two first-half penalties before his side pulled clear in the second-half.
Fullback Paul Couet-Lannes notched a try after 15 minutes of the second period, and added a second in the final moments after the referee had awarded a penalty try to seal the bonus-point.
Castres defeated Bourgoin 29-9 at the Stade Pierre Antoine on Saturday to register their second win of the season.
Cameron McIntyre handed Castres the lead with a penalty after only a minute, a kick that was cancelled out soon after by Benjamin Boyet. It wasn't until just before the break that the home fans had a try to cheer, Samoan international No.8 Joe Tekori obliging after McIntyre had landed two further penalties.
McIntyre extended the Castres lead with two second-half penalties, and while Bourgoin replacement Sebastien Laloo landed two penalties to reduce the deficit they had little to show for their efforts at full-time, with centre Jean-François Coux being sent to the sin-bin late on and Uruguayan lock Rodrigo Capo Ortega scoring Castres' second try.
Bayonne kicked off the second round on Friday with a stunning 38-24 victory over Stade Francais at Estadio Anoeta in northern Spain.
In the first Top 14 match ever staged on foreign soil, two tries from winger Benjamin Fall and others from Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet and Pepito Elhorga ensured the large crowd that had made the trip over the border to San Sebastien went home happy.
Bayonne fly-half Benat Arrayet was yellow carded in the first half but bounced back to weigh in with 16 points courtesy of four penalties and two conversions while replacement Cedric Garcia set the seal on the win by converting Elhorga's late try.
Two first-half tries from James Haskell and Geoffroy Messina kept Stade in touch in the opening period but they were unable to overhaul their hosts after the break with a yellow card for replacement Brian Liebenberg adding to their woes.