Top 14 - Round 8 Review
Perpignan see off fiery Clermont
September 26, 2009
Jean-Philippe Grandclaude was on the scoresheet for Perpignan © Getty Images
Perpignan struck a blow in the race for Top 14 semi-final places with a 19-3 win over fierce rivals Clermont Auvergne at the Stade Aime Giral. In a bad tempered re-run of last season's final the champions picked up vital points after seeing off Montauban last time out.
Clermont's desire for revenge got the better of them in the early stages as their usually resolute defence was punctured with only two minutes on the clock. French international centre Jean-Philippe Grandclaude was the recipient, sending the home side in to dreamland.
Nicolas Laharrague converted, with Clermont unable to get themselves back in to the game following the kick-off. Having thumped Albi last weekend last year's beaten finalists were off the pace as flanker Jean-Pierre Perez extended the home side's lead with a second score inside the opening 15 minutes.
Brock James replied with his side's first points from the kicking tee but their difficult afternoon continued when Perpignan wing Julien Candelon pounced for their third try just after the break. Moments later Clermont's experienced back-rower Alexandre Audebert was sent to the sin-bin, forcing further strife on his team-mates.
The game descended in to chaos as a late hit on Jerome Porical and an ensuing free-for-all ended with Clermont's replacement lock Jamie Cudmore seeing a straight red and Perpignan lock Robins Tchale Watchou sin-binned. The madness continued with Laharrague picking up the game's third yellow card soon after but the excitement was not mimicked on the scoreboard as Perpignan hung on for the points.
Toulon were unable to build on last weekend's victory over Toulouse, going down 23-9 to Biarritz at the Parc des Sports Aguilera.
The home side, who defeated Brive last weekend, continued their good run of form and shut out the confident visitors. Veteran No.8 Imanol Harinordoquy got the ball rolling for Biarritz with a try after 10 minutes, cancelling out an effort from Toulon fly-half Sebastien Fauque.
With Jonny Wilkinson named on the bench kicking duties fell to Fauque, who registered their only further points with two penalties. Benoit August picked up the hosts' second try as Toulon's under-strength line-up faltered, Rory Lamont seeing yellow just before the half-hour mark.
The scoring was completed by scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili, who crossed for a try just after the hour and sealed a big win.
Racing Metro bounced back from defeat at home to Castres by scraping to victory over Montpellier. Their 18-14 win at the Stade Yves du Manoir came courtesy of a try to Sebastien Chabal, playing at No.8, and centre Henry Chavancy while Springbok star Francois Steyn made his Top 14 bow from the bench.
Former All Black fly-half Andrew Mehrtens chimed in with two penalties to secure a 13-7 half-time lead for the hosts, after scrum-half Julien Tomas had crossed for Montpellier. Francois Trinh-Duc came off the bench to score a second for the visitors, but Chavancy's effort proved decisive for Racing.
Cash-strapped Bourgoin continued to fight for everything they're worth and picked up a hard-fought 15-12 away victory over Montauban at the Stade de Sapiac. In a battle conducted from the kicking tee, Benjamin Boyet threaded five penalties to secure the points for Bourgoin. His opponent on the day was Montauban's scrum-half Julien Audy, who landed four successful kicks.
Albi picked up their first win since returning to the French top flight by defeating Bayonne 19-14 in a fiercely competitive encounter at the Stade Municipal on Friday night.
The hosts went into the match on the back of six successive defeats but helped themselves into an early 6-0 lead courtesy of two penalties from fly-half Frederic Manca. Cedric Garcia got Bayonne off the mark with a three-pointer of his own on 34 minutes but Albi responded superbly, creating the game's opening try for scrum-half Kevin Boulonge. Manca added the extras and Albi went in 13-3 up at the interval.
Bayonne came roaring back, though, and they had moved in front by the hour after two more penalties from Garcia and a 52nd-minute try from Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet. However, Albi, in spite of their lowly position, refused to panic and replied with two penalties from Manca to pull clear.
The basement boys were reduced to 14 men with a minute of normal time remaining when Christophe Lafoy, who had earlier been yellow carded, saw red but Albi held on to claim a vital and long overdue win.
On the same night, Brive breathed new life into their league campaign with a badly-needed 11-9 victory over high-flying Castres at the Stade Amedee-Domenech.
In a real war of attrition, the home side took the lead with a 12th-minute penalty from fly-half Andy Goode. The England international landed a drop goal just after the half hour but Castres fullback Romain Teulet replied with a penalty moments later and there were just three points between the two sides at half-time.
Brive, though, made a crucial breakthrough just two minutes after the break, with Vincent Forgues barging his way over for a try. It went unconverted, thus allowing Teulet to draw Castres to within striking distance with two quick-fire penalties.
However, Brive maintained their discipline superbly in the final quarter to claim a victory which moves them away from the relegation zone.