The Top14 Round Five weekends action had some mouth-watering ties in prospect. Clermont faced Racing and Stade welcomed Toulon. With the top teams already facing an uphill battle, it made winning and gaining ground ever more important. So as Bordeaux ends Montpellier’s unbeaten run in ’emphatic style’ that proves that this season’s competition is ramping up.
Here’s all you need to know, from the Top14 Round Five:
Bordeaux 47-17 Montpellier
Bordeaux produced a stunning display to deny Montpellier a fifth straight win. Five tries for Bordeaux against a lacklustre Montpellier completely contrasted their opening four fixtures. The bonus point was all sewn up by half time. Loann Goujon, Nev Edwards, Jean-Pascal Barraque and Apisai Naqalevu touched down in the first half.
Bordeaux’s dominance continued after the break. Simon Hickey gave his side plenty of options in attack. It was fitting that Hickey rounded off a superb afternoon, dotting down (see main picture) and converting himself, to seal a remarkable victory.
For Montpellier, all the league leaders could muster was a double for Timoci Nagusa in either half. Even with Aaron Cruden’s calibre, Montpellier failed to threaten. A red card for Konstantin Mikautadze completed a dismal showing for the visitors.
Clermont 23-21 Racing 92
The reigning champions narrowly defeated Racing to continue their push. Clermont’s defence survived a late Racing attack to hold on for victory, Camille Lopez was reliable as ever with the boot. Alivereti Raka continued his scoring form from round four. He touched down in the opening exchanges. Lopez obliged from the tee before Racing took the lead.
A Teddy Thomas try and two Terry Iribaren penalties swung in Racing’s favour. The lead changed hands once more when Nick Abendanon dived over following a costly Racing error before the break.
— EatSleepRugby (@eatsleeprugby) September 24, 2017
Three quick Clermont penalties stretched the lead. A late penalty try left a nervy finish for the hosts. The home side held on to win, but three yellow cards marred a second half of ill discipline. Clermont now sit in eighth but six points off the pace while Racing slip down to fifth.
La Rochelle 57-12 Oyonnax
La Rochelle kept pressure on the teams at the top with a demolition against Oyonnax. The hosts ran out eight tries from seven different players. Oyonnax had some good passages of play but La Rochelle’s class shone through. First half tries from Vincent Rattez, Afaesetiti Amosa, Kevin Gourdon and Jason Eaton wrapped up a comfortable win. Oyonnax did offer resistance and Viliami Ma’afu found the try line and the subsequent conversion were the only points of the half.
Kini Murimurivalu had an exceptional second half, touching down twice to earn a deserved man of the match. Paul Jordaan and Victor Vito also got on the score sheet. Discipline was an issue for La Rochelle and Eaton saw yellow for infringing at the breakdown. Maximum points means La Rochelle close the gap to just one point in second place. Oyonnax sink towards the foot of the table with only one win to their name.
Agen 14-20 Pau
Agen suffered their third straight loss despite picking up an invaluable losing bonus point. Pau got off to a good start with winger Frank Halai getting the scoring underway in the opening quarter. The lead was short lived after a nasty Daniel Ramsey challenge saw him sidelined for ten minutes. Agen’s Facundo Bosch took advantage of the numbers to dive over. Ignacio Mieres converted to level the scores.
Despite Colin Slade going off in the first half, Brandon Fajardo came on and controlled the game for Pau. A penalty kick extended the lead, but Agen fly half Jake McIntyre converted a try of his own. That put the pressure back on Pau.
The visitors duly responded, through a Masalosalo Tutaia try, and dashed any hopes of an Agen comeback.
— Alexandre Paillou (@Alex4778) September 24, 2017
Brive 19-22 Toulouse
Brive haven’t lost five games in a row in the Top14 since the 2010/11 season. Following a second half resurgence, a fifth straight loss was close to being avoided. While still a loss, heads can still be held high for a brave battle fans witnessed.
Toulouse opened a healthy lead against the bottom side. An early try from veteran hooker Leonardo Ghiraldini set the tone early on. Australian fly half Zack Holmes shaped up for a drop goal, but a fumble lead to a brilliant solo try. Running back towards the breakdown, Holmes skipped round Brive defenders for a try that should never have been on.
France’s 20-year old scrum half Antoine Dupont was pivotal in Toulouse’s attack. His quick thinking and subsequent brilliance in the build up gave Maxime Medard an easy run in under the posts. That third try in the second half looked to have all but sealed the game. But Brive began to piece together good spells. A couple of bright passages gave the home side confidence to steal the win. A Mike Tadjer try set up a nervy finish.
Brive could have won it if they held their nerve, but a Toulouse turnover on their goal line sealed the win. Brive are now winless in five, while Toulouse progress into the top four.
Lyon 31-12 Castres
Lyon’s excellent start to the season continues after a bonus point win against Castres. Their free flowing attacking rugby is paying dividends. Castres failed to handle all that Lyon threw at them. The home side were two to the good after the opening quarter despite two early penalties for Castres. Winger Toby Arnold and hooker Mickael Ivaldi both touched down following excellent build up play. Lyon’s ball retention was far superior and allowed them to consistently get on the front foot.
Two further scores from Alexis Palisson and Baptiste Couilloud secured the bonus point. Palisson’s tally now takes him to four tries in five. Couilloud is another French scrum half who’s had an exceptional start to the season. He could well be pushing for a spot in the international squad.
— Stu Morris (@stumorris321) September 24, 2017
Lyon could have had six had it not been for handling errors close to the line. Lyon move up to third alongside La Rochelle and Castres now fall down into tenth.
Stade Francais 15-19 Toulon
Josua Tuisova stole the show for Toulon in a pulsating game of rugby. The Toulon flyer scored after four minutes following great support running to scamper in under the posts. Morne Steyn answered with four penalty kicks for Stade. In that time Tuisova was given his marching orders and ten minutes in the bin for deliberately slapping the ball down.
Tuisova was once again in the mix and a second half try levelled the scores to set up an exciting finale. Stade looked to have won the game with a Steyn drop goal ten minutes from time. Up stepped newcomer Facundo Isa with the match winner. Isa smashed over from close range, with Luke McAlister kicking the extras to break Stade hearts. An important win for Toulon moves them into sixth while Stade remain in thirteenth an for without a win since round two.
The table is now altered, with this first Montpellier loss.
— scott hornell (@scotthornell73) September 25, 2017
Bonus points will begin to influence the standings; a winning or losing BP, so follow all the results with Last Word on Rugby in our weekly wrap.
“Main photo credit”
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