Top 14 Orange
Brive deny Toulouse at the death
November 25, 2011
Montpellier's Timoci Nagusa beats Julien Bardy of Clermont Auvergne to a high ball © Getty Images
Brive 9 - 9 Toulouse Montpellier 29 - 23 Clermont Auvergne Perpignan 16 - 35 Stade Français Racing Metro 28 - 9 Biarritz Bayonne 15 - 9 Lyon
Toulouse squandered the opportunity to pull clear at the summit of the Top 14 after they were held to a 9-9 draw by Brive at the Stade Stade Amedee Domenech on Saturday afternoon.
The reigning champions appeared on course for a hard-fought win when fly-half Lionel Beauxis slotted over his third penalty of the game three minutes into the second half to put the visitors nine points to the good. However, Brive's goal-kicking winger Julien Caminati replied with two quick-fire penalties of his own before landing a third with just three minutes to go to snatch a share of the spoils.
Despite the setback, Toulouse are now two points clear at the top after second-placed Clermont Auvergne were edged out 29-23 by Montpellier at the Stade Yves du Manoir.
Montpellier bossed the opening period and went in 16-6 up at the break following a try from winger Timoci Nagusa and 11 points from the boot of scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue, veteran fly-half David Skrela managing just two penalties by way of a response for the visitors.
Clermont rallied after the restart, with a try from Julien Bardy dragging them back into the game, but Montpellier responded with a brace of penalties from Paillaugue before Nagusa dotted again to put 16 points between the sides.
Credit to Clermont, though, they kept fighting and salvaged a losing bonus point thanks to Morgan Parra, who crossed for a try on 71 minutes which he himself converted before then nailing a late penalty.
Third-placed Castres also failed to win but they were more than happy with their lot after Pierre Bernard landed a last-gasp penalty to earn his side a 22-22 draw with fourth-placed Toulon at the Stade Pierre Antoine.
Toulon seemed set to climb above their hosts in the standings after reaching the break 19-6 to the good following a try from Gaby Lovobalavu and 14 points from the boot of Jonny Wilkinson. However, Castres mounted a stirring second-half fightback and were level by the 66th minute courtesy of Chris Masoe's 47th minute touchdown, a penalty from Romain Teulet and a drop goal from Bernard.
Regardless, Wilkinson looked to have won it for Toulon when he slotted a penalty with just two minutes remaining but Bernard responded in kind right at the death to snatch a draw for the home side.
Agen kept their bid for a play-off place on track with a hard-fought 24-15 victory over struggling Bordeaux Begles at the Stade Armandie in the late kick-off on Saturday night.
A dour contest quickly descended into a straight shootout between the two side's respective goal-kickers, Conrad Barnard and Gerard Fraser. The pair matched each other penalty for penalty until Barnard fired over a drop goal just over 60 seconds before the half-time whistle.
Barnard added three more penalties shortly after the restart as Agen pulled further clear and even though Barnard landed a drop goal of his own to give the visitors some hope of turning the game around in the final quarter, they were rocked by the loss of lock Adam Jaulhac to the sin bin on 61 minutes. Barnard nailed the resulting kick on goal and that score enabled Agen to cruise home.
Racing Metro shrugged off their recent European woes with a 28-9 victory over Biarritz in their clash at Stade Yves du Manoir on Friday night.
Basement side Biarritz were on course for an upset victory with two penalties from fly-half Jean Pascal Barraque, either side of another from fullback Benoit Baby, giving them a narrow 9-8 lead at the break but that is as good as it got for the Basques. Winger Julien Suabade, who crossed for a try in the first half, added another after the break as the hosts took control of the contest. Lock Lionel Nallet added another within three minutes with 13 points from the boot of Jonathan Wisniewski heaping further woe on their rivals.
Elsewhere, Stade Francais are also on the rise following their 36-16 bonus point victory over Perpignan at Stade Aime Giral. Tries from centre Paul Williams and hooker Dimitri Szarzewski and the kicking exploits of scrum-half Julien Dupuy put the visitors in control at half-time with Perpignan playmaker James Hook keeping his side in touch with three penalties.
A yellow card for Williams after the break offered Perpignan hope but Dupuy was still able to edge his side ahead from the tee. The Catalans struck back with a try from Julien Candelon, that was converted by Hook, but their hopes took a dive with the sin-binning of replacement David Mele. Dupuy punished them further before No.8 Sergio Parisse and centre Martin Rodriguez Gurruchage rounded out the scoring.
In the night's other game, Bayonne edged out strugglers Lyon 15-9 in their meeting at Stade Jean Dauger. Lyon held a narrow 6-3 advantage at the break thanks to a brace of penalties from fullback Eric Tomamichel but Bayonne fly-half Benjamin Boyet steered his side home with four second half penalties of his own.
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