Round two in the Top14 showed just how competitive a league this is. In particular Agen’s incredible win against Racing, Montpellier continuing to set the pace and Lyon looking a much improved side. The Top14 round three action promised to deliver once again. Could Montpellier and Lyon make it three from three?
Here’s all you need to know from the weekend’s action.
La Rochelle 51-20 Clermont Auvergne
Reigning champions Clermont suffered a crushing defeat at the hands of La Rochelle. The home side raced out of the blocks scoring six first half tries. Winger Gabriel Lacroix scoring three, picking up his hat-trick just after half time. But it was his first that was the pick of the three. A team try starting deep in their own 22, Lacroix finished after just forty seconds in. There were further scores from former All Black Victor Vito, Kini Murimurivalu, Hikairo Forbes and Alexis Bales.
Clermont failed to handle the sustained pressure La Rochelle continued to mount. Depsite registering twenty points, a further loss for Clermont sees them slip down to thirteenth.
Bordeaux 30-10 Stade Francais
By Stade Francais standards, their start to the season hasn’t gone to plan. Bordeaux made matters worse with a comprehensive win. The home side only crossed the whitewash twice – through Nans Ducuing and Peni Ravai Kovekalou. It was the twenty points from the boots of Simon Hickey and Tian Schoeman that really turned the screw against Stade.
Yet ill discipline and too many costly penalties ultimately cost Stade. They now find themselves at the foot of the table in twelfth with just four points. There’s a long way to go but Stade are already playing catch up.
US Oyonnax 12-10 Agen
Agen scored the game’s only try in a low scoring affair. Scrum half Paul Abadie touched down in the first half with both teams failing to capitalise on chances to take control. Agen’s woes were compounded when Mikael de Marko was sent to the bin just before the break. But Oyonnax’s Ben Botica kicked all of his side’s points to secure an eventual win – their first of the season.
A losing bonus point for Agen adds to their victory in round two. Bonus points could prove crucial as the season progresses and could be the difference between survival and relegation.
Brive 6-25 Racing 92
Racing overturned their disappointing loss to Agen last week with a dominant display at Brive. Vilaimu Afatia opened the scoring after just two minutes. Brive found themselves defending for the majority and two Gaetan Germain penalties were the only points they could muster. Even with a man in the bin Racing continued to ramp up the pressure. Henry Chavancy got Racing’s second following an earlier interception in the play.
Ill discipline marred the second half with both sides having a man sent to the bin. An excellent Virimi Vakatawa try on the stroke of full time reflected Racing’s strong display and with it move further up the table.
Castres 17-22 Montpellier
Montpellier edged Castres in a thrilling encounter with the away side now unbeaten after three rounds. But it was Castres who looked the likely winner for large parts, dominating Montpellier in attack and with their blitz defence. Julien Dumore was Castres’ only try scorer, keeping his side in the lead.
Montpellier’s Ruan Pienaar was the difference – controlling his side’s set plays. His boot helped them to six kicks and keeping his side in touching distance. Nemani Nadolo’s try in the final minutes sealed Montpellier’s victory who now go four points clear at the top.
Pau 30-14 Lyon
It was a game of firsts between Pau and Lyon. Pau secured their first win and Lyon suffered their first defeat. Pau responded to an early Lyon try through Dylan Cretin by scoring three of their own. A double from Watisoni Vatu and a try from Jale Vatubua were enough to earn all four points.
A second half Liam Gill try for Lyon showed some resolve from the away side. But it wasn’t enough as Pau now move above Clermont (13th) and Stade Francais (12th) all on four points.
Toulon 20-16 Toulouse
Toulon held on to a narrow victory despite pressure from Toulouse in the dying stages. The away side had the opportunity to have the final say but good work from the Toulon forwards prevented a second loss of the season.
Toulouse opened up a ten point lead through Antoine Dupont and the boot of Jean-Marc Doussain. A yellow card for Hugo Bonneval meant Toulon were playing catch up from the off. But tries from Anthony Etrillard and Josua Tuisova were enough to secure victory and move into fourth place.
With only one unbeaten side, and only five sides below who had won two games, the long season ahead will bring it’s own surprises. So early on, it is still too early to judge the form – at this point.
“Main photo credit”