Top 14 Orange - Round 25
Toulouse secure semi-final spot
ESPNscrum Staff
April 23, 2011

Toulouse secured their spot in the semi finals of the Top 14 with a 33-0 victory over basement side Bourgoin at the Stade Ernest Wallon on Saturday.

France winger Vincent Clerc grabbed two tries in the opening 11 minutes, both of which were converted by fly-half David Skrela, to give the hosts the perfect start. Fellow French winger Maxime Medard raced over the line in the 20th minute with Skrela again converting.

Flanker Thierry Dusautoir breached the Bourgoin defences early in the second half and fellow international Yannick Jauzion touched down in the 66th minute with scrum-half Jean Marc Doussain converting.

Toulon bolstered their hopes of securing a play-off place as they beat Perpignan 43-12 to move up to fifth and gain revenge over the side that dumped them out of the Heineken Cup. England fly-half Jonny Wilkinson and Perpignan fullback Jerome Porical traded penalties early on to leave the sides locked at 9-9. But Scotland international Rory Lamont scored a decisive try two minutes before the break, which Wilkinson converted along with another penalty, as Toulon gained a 19-9 half-time advantage.

Porical and Wilkinson again traded early penalties at the start of the second half before Toulon centre Gabirieli Lovobalavu crossed to extend the hosts lead with Wilkinson's replacement Felipe Contepomi adding the conversion. The Argentine international landed his second conversion nine minutes later after Fontunuupule Auelua touched down, and Contepomi rounded off a strong cameo with a converted try of his own with two minutes remaining.

The shakedown for the play-off places continued as Racing Metro moved back into second position and boosted their chances of an automatic semi-final slot with a 51-34 win over Agen in Paris. Fiji winger Sireli Bobo scored the hosts' opening try in the tenth minute before flanker Remy Vaquin crossed in the 23rd minute. Fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski was on target with both conversions as well as a penalty as Racing established a 17-6 lead.

Agen fly-half Valentin Courrent did his best to drag his side back into the game with a converted try and two penalties but Wisniewski landed another penalty before Racing hooker Carlo Festuccia barged over to give the hosts a strong half-time advantage. After the break Racing's powerful forwards took charge with Sebastien Chabal, Francois Carl Van der Merwe and Jacques Cronje all going over. Despite their defensive frailties Agen continued to threaten in attack and Silvere Tian scored two tries along with one from Manu Ahotaeiloa. But Racing had the final word with Chabal scoring his second and Wisniewski ending with five conversions and two penalties.

Clermont Auvergne jumped into third, ahead of Biarritz and Castres, after beating La Rochelle 34-10 at the Stade Marcel Michelin. Flankers Julien Bonnaire and Alexandre Audebert both scored tries in the opening 20 minutes though scrum-half Morgan Parra was off target with both shots at goal. Prop Martin Scelzo and lock Thibault Privat forced their ways over the line prior to half time, but again the conversion chances were squandered. Scrum-half Benjamin Dambielle contributed La Rochelle's only first half points with a penalty.

Clermont winger Kini Murimurivalu gave the hosts the ideal start to the second half and grabbed his second of the game in the 66th minute with Parra converting both times. Thomas Soucaze touched down for the visitors in the 73rd minute but Clermont were out of sight and dreaming of piping Racing Metro to a second spot finish to the season.

Bayonne thrashed Stade Francais 54-20 to maintain their remote hopes of edging into the end of season play-offs. Bayonne fly-half Benjamin Boyet slotted three early penalties before converting flanker Jean Jo Marmouyet's try in the 29th minute. Stade kept in touch with a Jules Plisson try along with the conversion and two penalties from scrum-half Noel Oelschig, but Abdellatif Boutaty's score in first-half injury time for Bayonne opened up the gap again.

After the break Bayonne blew their opponents away with 33 unanswered points. Jean-Baptiste Peyras-Loustalet, Julien Audy, Yohan Huget, David Roumieu and Thibault Lacroix all scored tries while Boyet ended with a total of six conversions and three penalties as Bayonne recorded an emphatic win. Juan Manuel Leguizamon got a late consolation for Stade.

Elsewhere, Brive dented Montpellier's play-off hopes with a 23-21 upset win at the Stade Amedee-Domenech. Tries from hooker Benoit Cabello and winger Ronnie Cooke and 10 points from fly-half Mathieu Belie put Brive on course for victory and gave them a 20-13 lead at the break. But a second-half try from Timoci Nagusa, in addition to an earlier score from prop Juan Figallo, and the kicking exploits of fly-half Raphael Lagarde saw the game swing the visitors' way only for Belie to snatch the lead and the win in the closing minutes.

Castres survived a late Biarritz fightback to record a 16-13 victory over their play-off rivals on Friday night which moved them - temporarily - into second place in the table. Castres led by three points at the end of a turgid opening half, with Romain Teulet knocking over two early penalties before Marcelo Bosch got the visitors off the mark with a 24th-minute drop goal.

Teulet added another penalty for Castres shortly after the interval before being on hand to convert after replacement Rodrigo Capo Ortega had flopped over on 50 minutes. Biarritz finished strongly, with No.10 Julien Peyrelongue crossing for a try with 12 minutes to go, but even though scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili converted and then landed a penalty in the closing stages, the Basques were forced to settle for a losing bonus point.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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