Top 14 - Round 13 Review
Castres rout Toulouse
November 21, 2009

Castres moved level with Perpignan at the top of the table with a commanding 30-10 win over third-placed Toulouse at the Stade Pierre Antoine on Saturday afternoon.

Chris Masoe bagged a brace of tries for the hosts, while Cameron McIntyre and Thomas Sanchou both scored one apiece. All of Toulouse's points came courtesy of fly-half Frederic Michalak, who landed a penalty before converting his own try just after half time.

Toulouse never recovered from a stunning start from Castres. Fly-half McIntyre touched down with less than three minutes on the clock while Masoe followed him over just eight minutes later. McIntyre converted both scores and then added a penalty in the 15th minute to put Castres 17 points to the good.

Sanchou's yellow card just before the half hour offered Toulouse a route back into the game and the resulting penalty enabled Guy Noves' men to get off the mark through their mercurial fly-half, Michalak. However, McIntyre managed a penalty whilst his half-back partner Sanchou was still in the bin and Castres went in 20-3 up at the interval.

Michalak's try just after the break gave Toulouse a brief flicker of hope but Sanchou posted an almost immediate reply to effectively seal the win for Castres. However, they continued to press and clinched the bonus point when Masoe burst through to score his second try of the afternoon in the 64th minute.

Castres' win saw them move to 41 points alongside Perpignan, who were beaten 24-23 by basement side Albi in a remarkable upset in the weekend's opening fixture. A last-gasp penalty from scrum-half Kevin Boulogne saw the hosts claim only their second victory of the season and condemn the Catalans to their fourth defeat after a dramatic finale at Stade Municipal.

With Guilhelm Guirado, David Marty and Nicolas Mas on duty with Les Bleus and Henry Tuilagi preparing to face them in Samoan colours, Perpignan saw their playing resources stretched but were still expected to be too strong for the Top 14 strugglers. The Catalans took an early lead with a penalty from fullback Jerome Porical but found themselves trailing 11-3 at half-time following a try from Albi flanker Laurent Baluc-Rittener.

A try from Porical reduced the arrears but they were soon down to 14-men when centre Christophe Manas was sin-binned. Albi capitalised with replacement Frédéric Manca touching down with Boulogne's conversion extending his side's lead to 11 points. The visitors struck back again through lock Robins Tchale-Watchou and the conversion and two further penalties from Porical - either side of a yellow card for Albi's Yogane Correa - gave Perpignan a narrow lead in the closing stages. But 14-man Albi rallied and drew the penalty from Perpignan that allowed Boulogne to steal the match.

Biarritz kept the pressure on the leaders with a 16-13 victory away at high-flyers Clermont Auvergne. A first-half try from Benoit Baby put the hosts in control with the boot of fly-half Brock James cemented their lead.

But back came the Basques with scrum-half Dimitri Yachvili closing the gap with three penalties before replacement Paul Couet-Lannes snatched a last minute try to swing the game in his side's favour. Yachvili set the seal on the win with the conversion to condemn Clermont to their first home league defeat for over a year.

Toulon made light of the absence of Jonny Wilkinson to climb to fifth in the standings courtesy of a 19-10 victory over Brive at the Stade Felix Mayol. After Sebastien Fauque and Fabrice Estebanez had exchanged early penalties, Toulon No.8 Fontunuupule Auelua crossed for the game's opening try midway through the first after being released by Sonny Bill Williams. Fauque converted and Toulon led by seven at the interval.

Withing six minutes of the restart, though, Brive were level, Simon Azoulai planting the ball over the whitewash after some good mauling from the visitors.

However, Fauque responded with two quick-fire penalties for Toulon before the fit-again Argentine, Felipe Contepomi, marked his debut with a 72nd-minute penalty which sealed victory for the hosts.

Racing Metro came from behind at the break to defeat Stade Francais 20-18 in an absorbing Parisian derby at the Stade Olympique Yves du Manoir.

Racing went into the game on the back of four successive wins but they found themselves behind after just over 60 seconds of play, with former Newcastle Falcons winger Ollie Phillips racing through to score for Stade.

However, fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski responded with two penalties for the home side before Sireli Bobo dived over in the 20th minute to put Toulon 11-7 ahead. It was Stade who led at the interval, though, after Wisniewski's opposite number, Noel Oelschig, had slotted over two penalties of his own to help his side into a two-point advantage.

However, Racing were seven points ahead by the hour mark after two more successful kicks from Wisniewski, either side of a vintage long-range effort from Frans Steyn.

Stade had the chance to draw level in the 65th minute when France centre Mathieu Bastareaud charged over but Oelschig failed to convert and that miss ultimately cost Stade a share of the spoils.

A last-minute try from Eugene van Staden saw Montpellier claim a 23-20 victory over Bourgoin in a dramatic clash at the Stade Pierre Rajon.

Bourgoin had had the better of the opening half and they led 10-3 after 25 minutes after an early try from Wessel Jooste and five points from the boot of Sebastien Laloo. However, the ever-reliable boot of Federico Todeschini ensured that Montpellier only went in one point in arrears at half-time, the Argentine fly-half slotting over three penalties.

The visitors then moved in front eight minutes into the second period when they engineered a try for fullback Jean-Matthieu Alcade which was promptly converted by Todeschini.

Bourgoin reclaimed the lead - and indeed the initiative - when they forced a penalty try in the 56th minute and when Laloo landed a drop goal with just over seven minutes to go, that appeared to be that.

However, in the final minute of normal time, Alcade crashed over from close range to nick it for Montpellier.

Bourgoin's defeat enabled Bayonne to climb above them into 12th in the table with a comprehensive 38-13 win over Montauban at the Stade Jean Dauger.

Bayonne made a stirring start against their fellow strugglers, scoring a try through Jean Jo Marmouyet after just eight minutes of play. The two extra points went begging but fly-half Guillaume Bernad made amends by landing a penalty moments later to make it eight unanswered points for the hosts.

Jean-Emmanuel Cassin winged his way over for Montauban in the 26th minute but the visitors then made the age-old mistake of conceding just after they had scored, allowing Thibault Lacroix in for Bayonne less than two minutes later. Bernad converted this time around and then stroked over a penalty in the dying seconds of the half to make it 18-7 to Bayonne.

Cedric Rosalen did his best to lift Montauban, slotting over a drop goal just after play had resumed after the interval and then landing a penalty after Bernad's boot had temporarily restored Bayonne's 11-point advantage.

However, Lacroix's second try of the game, which arrived in the 53rd minute, killed off all hope of a Montauban comeback and Bayonne collected a priceless bonus point with the last play of the game when Sam Gerber crossed.


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