Top 14 - Newswrap
Toulon continue to toil
August 30, 2010
Jonny Wilkinson could not prevent Toulon from slipping to their second home defeat of the season against Racing © Getty Images
Away victories don't come about all that often in the Top 14, never mind away wins at Stade Aimé Giral and Stade Mayol on the same weekend. In Toulon's case, their 36-31 defeat at the hands of Racing Metro was their second home defeat of the season, hardly the start that the big-spending club would have wanted.
Writing in l'Equipe, former Brive and France flyhalf Alain Penaud queried the tactics employed by Toulon coach Philippe Saint André, branding the performance as "catastrophic".
Penaud said: "How many balls were given back to their opponent using that kicking game? Wilko is without a doubt closer to the management's game plan than Felipe Contepomi. The Toulonais will probably not be too far from their objectives come the end of the season but it's sad to see a team with so much potential...passing their time putting up garryowens.
"I preferred the game plan that Tana Umaga tried to establish. Today we have a group of players that don't go forward. For me Toulon have lost the ambition to play. It's sad when the opposing side coughs up twenty penalties and yet you're not able to hold on to the ball."
For Perpignan, the loss at home to neighbouring Montpellier 16-6 was just as tough to take, according to Perpignan president Paul Goze and Captain Jean-Pierre Perez.
"This defeat has really hurt us," said Goze, in an interview with l'Independant. "For us it's hugely important that we stay unbeaten and in control at home."
Perez refused to admit that injuries had taken their toll on the 2009 champions. "We tried to do things but nothing seemed to work," he said. "I think we can be blamed collectively for the mistakes and the defeat."
Meanwhile Stade Francais coach Michael Cheika has insisted that his team will lift their game in the months to come after a heavy 34-16 defeat in Toulouse.
"I can't really criticise my team after all the effort they've put in out there," Cheika told Midi Olympique. "Nobody wants to win more than me. When you look at Toulouse who were effectively full strength, our start wasn't too bad. We can definitely do better but those penalties certainly killed us."