Montpellier beat Perpignan to go top
February 15, 2014
Charles Geli advances for Montpellier © Getty Images
Montpellier capitalised on Clermont's shock defeat to Grenoble to move to the Top 14 summit, thrashing Perpignan 50-19.
It looked like another upset may be on the cards as Lifeimi Mafi crossed for Perpignan after just five minutes but it was not a sign of things to come - the away side would be restricted to points from the boot of James Hook for the remainder of the match. Two tries apiece from Rene Ranger and Alex Tulou meant the bonus point was assured for Montpellier by 46 minutes but they were not finished there, as Eric Escande added a further score late on to rub salt in Perpignan's wounds.
Scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue ended the game with a personal haul of 20 points from the kicking tee, with France's Francois Trindh-Duc also landing a drop-goal for good measure in a game which saw Perpignan lose two men to the sin-bin.
Toulon needed a late Matt Giteau try to overcome Castres19-13.
Jonny Wilkinson had given Toulon a 9-0 lead with three first-half kicks but scoring was a rarity in the second half. Remy Grosso crossed just after the hour-mark to blow the game wide open but the champions could not find a way back into the game, as Giteau issued an almost immediate response.
Two late kicks from Kockott brought Castres to back within one score but it was as close as they came as Toulon moved level on points with the champions in fourth place.
Gael Fickou continued his run of scoring crucial tries as he crossed for Toulouse as they kept their play-off hopes on track with a 16-6 win over Biarritz. Elsewhere, Brive upset Stade Francais 28-12 and Racing Metro beat Bayonne 18-8.
Clermont were controversially denied a late try by the TMO as they lost 16-13 to Grenoble on Friday evening.
Clermont thought they had done enough to steal the win in the closing stages when Fritz Lee barged his way over after a long, patient move through the phases. Clermont were convinced they had their try but the TMO was unable to see grounding of the ball - handing the home side a famous victory.
A Julien Malzieu try had put Clermont ahead early in the encounter but Grenoble had stayed in contention thanks to the boot of James Hart. Grenoble trailed 10-9 at half-time despite being second best throughout the opening period, and Clermont continued to dominate after the break and it looked a matter of time until they came away with the decisive try.
But it was Grenoble who crossed the whitewash, as Ratu Ratini found space to gallop 80 metres to the try line on 68 minutes to give his side the most unlikely of leads. Clermont came back strongly but were denied in dramatic fashion - and a losing bonus point will be scant consolation in a game they dominated.
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