Top 14 - Round 1
Perpignan off to a flyer
August 15, 2009

Perpignan kicked off their defence of the Top 14 title with a 28-20 win over Bayonne at Stade Aime Giral.

Substitute Nicolas Laharrague dropped a goal with eleven minutes remaining to give the Catalans a 25-10 lead but a Cedric Garcia penalty and a Ross Filipo try, converted by his fly-half, ensured a tense finish to the clash.

Perpignan fullback Armand Batlle had earlier crossed for a 20th minute try but they relied on the kicking exploits of David Mele and Laharrague to see them home, with Mele finishing with 17 points.

In the end Perpignan managed to hold off their determined visitors and a late insurance penalty from Laharrague ensured a winning start to their campaign.

Meanwhile, three tries in six second half minutes catapulted last season's beaten finalists Clermont to a off to a 37-28 victory over Bourgoin at sun kissed Stade Pierre Rajon.

In a fast and furious opening Brock James dropped an early goal before Rudi Coetzee and Napolioni Nalaga exchanged tries. Benjamin Boyet and James exchanged further penalties to give the visitors a half-time advantage but their hopes suffered a blow after the break with a yellow card for lock Thomas Privat.

Bourgoin regained the lead thanks to a penalty try ten minutes after the re-start but Nalaga's second try just past the hour mark levelled the tie. Wesley Fofana and Anthony Floch then crossed in quick succession to give Clermont an unassailable lead and a late Franck Romanet try was a mere consolation.

Brive recorded the biggest win of the weekend with a thumping 30-9 victory over Montpellier at Stade Amedee-Domenech.

A try from Brive hooker Steve Thompson was the difference between the two sides at the break after a kicking duel between Luciano Orquera and his opposite number in the Montpellier ranks Federico Todeschini. But second half tries from Vincent Forgues and Orquera - who finished with a personal tally of 20 points - carried the home side to a comfortable victory.

A late comeback saw Toulouse past Montauban with Patricio Albacete's last gasp try and Jean-Baptiste Elissalde's conversion securing a 17-16 win at Stade de Sapiac. Mathieu Belie's 69th minute try had given the hosts a 16-10 lead with the clock running down but Guy Noves' men never gave up and were rewarded for their efforts.

The boot of fly-half Cedric Rosalen looked to have given Montauban a telling advantage before a try for winger Yves Donguy and the conversion from Elissalde gave Toulouse a narrow one-point lead. Back came Montauban with replacement Abdellatif Boutaty getting on the score sheet but Mathieu Belie's conversion would not be enough.

Newly-promoted Racing Metro celebrated their return to France's top flight with a 19-13 victory over Albi.

A try from former Saracens winger Dan Scarbrough helped the visitors into a half-time lead but Albi, who also made the step up from Pro D2, battled back and a try from fullback Benjamin Lapeyre brought them level in the second period.

But Racing fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski edged his side back into the lead before a yellow card for flanker Yoann Misse dented Albi's hopes. Racing wrapped up the victory thanks to a late drop goal from replacement Fabien Fortassin.

Elsewhere, Castres stunned Biarritz with a 24-12 victory at Stade Aguilera. Winger Marc Andreu crossed twice while the hosts had to rely on penalties from fly-half Valentin Courrent and his replacement Julien Peyrelongue. Four first half penalties from Castres fly-half Cameron McIntyre gave his side control of the game which they never relinquished.

The opening round of action got underway on Friday night with Toulon and Stade Francais battling to a 22-22 draw at Stade Mayol. Click here for the full report from our Game of the Week.


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