French Top 14
Toulouse down Clermont to regain top spot
February 22, 2009
Tana Umaga's return failed to inspire Toulon to victory against Stade Francais © Getty Images
Toulouse regained top spot in the Top 14 after an important 20-13 win over Clermont Auvergne on Sunday at the Stade Toulouse.
The home side picked up a penalty try after 15 minutes before electric wing Vincent Clerc crossed for their second early in the second half. Clermont fly-half Brock James kept his side in touch with a pair of penalties before converting prop Laurent Emmanuelli's 61st minute try to bring them within seven points.
The champions held on for victory however, moving them ahead of Stade Francais, who ruined Tana Umaga's return to the playing field for Toulon by inflicting in a 22-12 defeat in Paris on Friday night.
In his 52 minutes on the pitch Umaga certainly looked the part as he carried the ball strongly into contact and consistently looked to offload the ball to other players running off him while defensively Toulon appeared all the better with him at inside centre.
Toulon's defences were breached in the first-half by Matthieu Bastareaud who evaded a Sonny Bill Williams cover tackle and dived over in the 23rd minute after a sustained period of pressure from the home side. French international Lionel Beauxis kicked a drop goal, penalty goal and also converted Basterraud's try in the first half.
The second-half saw Toulon come back into the game, scoring two excellent tries through Saimone Taumoepeau and Martin Jagr. Prop Taumoepeau scuttled over after an incisive piercing of the Stade backline by Gabrieli Lovobalavu. Lovobalavu was involved in the second as well as he fed wing Jagr who brilliantly chipped the defence and collected to dive over and give Toulon hope of an unlikely victory.
Perpignan lost ground on Stade Francais and Toulouse following their 19-13 defeat to Bayonne at the Garage de la Nive. Bayonne fullback Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet bagged the all-important score after scrum-half Cedric Garcia had landed four penalties.
Elsewhere, Brive kept up their push for a playoff place with a 19-15 win over Biarritz. Luciano Orqera bagged a full house and finished the game with 13 points while England fly-half Andy Goode started the game and landed two penalties.
At the opposite end of the table, Castres routed Dax 32-16 and claimed a bonus point thanks to a brace from Lionel Mazars and further tries from Paul Bonnefond and Joe Tekori. The win moves Castres three points clear of Dax, while Mont-de-Marsan remain rooted to the foot of the table after their 16-16 draw with Bourgoin.
Montauban moved to within two points of Brive after a 27-19 win over Montpellier, wings Yohan Audrin and Shannon Paku crossing the whitewash and securing the points as fullback Fabien Fortassin bagged 17 points from the boot.