Sport

Four-try Clermont pile on misery for Toulon

Clermont eased past struggling Toulon with a bonus point 28-8 win to stretch their French Top 14 lead and leave the three-time European champions with the woeful record of just one win in the Auvergne in over 80 years.

Clermont fly-half Camille Lopez celebrates after scoring a try against Toulon
Clermont fly-half Camille Lopez celebrates after scoring a try against Toulon (AFP)

Clermont eased past struggling Toulon with a bonus point 28-8 win to stretch their French Top 14 lead and leave the three-time European champions with the woeful record of just one win in the Auvergne in over 80 years.

Victory for Clermont was their fifth of the season and was the perfect reply after losing against Bordeaux last weekend.

For big-spending Toulon, who were fourth last season, it was a fourth defeat in six games and left them fourth from bottom.

In 31 meetings dating back to 1936, Toulon have only won once on Clermont soil, emerging 35-9 winners in 2015.

That depressing statistic never looked like improving on Saturday as Clermont maintained their perfect home record with a third win.

Winger Damien Penaud scored the first try after just seven minutes thanks to a fine pass from veteran scrum-half Morgan Parra.

Fly-half Camille Lopez added the second after 21 minutes before Remy Grosso went over for the third five minutes later after being released by an inch-perfect kick ahead by Lopez which dropped comfortably into the winger's arms.

Clermont were 17-3 ahead at the break with Toulon's only points coming courtesy of an Anthony Belleau penalty.

Toulon lock Romain Taofifenua barrelled over just after the hour for his team's only try but any hopes of a fightback were snuffed out when replacement prop Yohan Beheregaray muscled over for Clermont's bonus try.

Argentinian fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta was the hero for defending champions Castres as he hit a late drop-goal and penalty to seal a last-gasp 26-22 victory over Toulouse.

Toulouse were left kicking themselves after racing out to a 20-point lead thanks to opening tries from Sebastien Bezy and Maxime Medard with Castres' Mathieu Babillot in the sinbin.

Romain Ntamack added a third try for Toulouse, with Julien Dumora then yellow carded to compound Castres woes.

But the visitors clung in there to ensure a true game of two halves.

-- 'Went to sleep' --

Urdapilleta converted a brace of tries by American Samoa-born No 8 Alex Tulou before his 72nd minute drop-goal handed Castres the lead for the first time in the game, a third penalty two minutes later confirming what had seemed an unlikely victory.

"What an incredible match!" beamed Castres flanker Babillot. "We went to sleep in the first half... but at the break Christophe (Urios, the coach) blew up at us and we woke up."

Captain Rodrigo Capo Ortega added: "A match lasts 80 minutes, not 40 or 60. After our first try we said to ourselves that it was possible to come back."

Toulouse forwards coach William Servat, who saw his team pummelled 66-15 by Montpellier last week, called the match a "complicated afternoon".

In other matches, Montpellier kept Perpignan, at one point down to 13 men, winless and firmly rooted to the bottom of the table with a narrow 23-20 away win.

Bordeaux-Begles outscored La Rochelle four tries to two in a 34-22 victory, while Fiji-born France winger Noa Nakaitaci helped Lyon to a 34-6 bonus-point walloping of Grenoble in the Alps derby.

However, Lyon's international scrum-half Baptiste Couilloud suffered a serious ankle injury and could miss at least three months of action.

"It's serious," said Lyon coach Pierre Mignoni.

Leaving it late, Antoine Hastoy scored 23 points including a 76th minute penalty to help Pau to a nail-biting 28-25 defeat of Agen.

Sunday sees Stade Francais entertain cross-city arch-enemies Racing 92 for Parisian boasting rights.