Parra red overshadows Clermont win
February 23, 2014
Clermont's Fritz Lee offloads © Getty Images
Morgan Parra's red card overshadowed Clermont's massive 42-16 victory over Montpellier at Stade Marcel-Michelin.
After France's abject performance against Wales on Friday evening Parra had been touted for a possible recall, but his sending off will almost certainly see him unavailable for France's next game against Scotland. It was the main talking point from an otherwise routine victory for Clermont, as they ran in five tries to make it 73 straight wins at home.
Aurelien Rougerie set Clermont on their way, before Lee Byrne scored two tries in quick succession as the home side eased away from Montpellier. But any hope Parra had of returning to Philippe Saint-Andre's France side was then dashed when he was given a straight red for a headbutt on Rene Ranger.
Despite their numerical disadvantage, Sitiveni Sivivatu crossed for a fourth as Clermont wrapped up the bonus point on 46 minutes. Montpellier only really made the numbers count when it was all too late, as Lucas Dupont and Ranger went over for two late consolation tries.
Champions Castres edged Toulouse 29-27 at the Stade Pierre Antoine. At one stage in the first-half the home side were 22-3 down with Toulouse's Joe Tekori, Thomas Ramos and Vincent Clerc all scoring but Castres rallied back. Penalty tries either side of the break alongside tries from Rory Kockott and Marcel Garvey saw the hosts hold a 29-22 lead going into the stages. But when Clerc scored in injury time, it looks as if a draw was on the cards but Sebastien Bezy skewed his conversion attempt.
Bayonne finished a week where the headlines were made by the departure of chairman Alain Afflelou with a 9-15 loss to Toulon. The home side got off to a good start and led 9-0 midway through the first half thanks to three penalties from Stephen Brett. But Jonny Wilkinson cut that lead to three points by the break with a penalty and a drop-goal and soon after half-time he levelled the scores. Two more Wilkinson penalties in the last 13 minutes sealed the win and lifted Toulon to third.
Stade Francais kept pace with Clermont at the top of the table, but they did it the hard way with a narrow 29-26 win over Oyonnax. With scores level as the clock passed 80 minutes, Morne Steyn held his composure to slot the drop goal and save the home side's blushes.
Biarritz belied their status as the league's bottom side with a 22-20 win over Grenoble, while Perpignan saw off Brive 12-6. Elsewhere, Darly Domvo scored the only try of the game as Bordeaux beat Racing Metro 25-9.
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