Top 14 Round 11 Wrap-Up

Top 14 Round 11 Wrap-Up

Ultimate Rugby and Larissa Falls are detailing the thrills and spills, winners and losers, try scorers and goal kickers from Round 11 of France’s Top14 League.

Oyonnax v Pau
FT = Oyonnax 34 – 13 Pau
Oyonnax managed to put a stop to their run of four consecutive losses by beating Pau 34-13 on Friday night. In wet and difficult conditions, both sides’ Fly-Halves traded early penalty goals before home Full-Back Darren Sweetnam crossed for Oyonnax’s first 5-pointer. But highs soon turned to lows when Oyo’s Hugo Fabregue was sin-binned with Pau making full use of the 1-man advantage, seeing Georgian workhorse Beka Gorgadze score a try for the visitors. He was without doubt Pau’s Man of the Match with his try, 17 carries, 2 turnovers won, and 2 dominant tackles. The Vert et Blanc only led for those slender 7 minutes before Les Oyomen hit back moments before the break, when Scrum-Half Jonathan Ruru slid over to give his team a 5-point buffer. The second period was almost all Oyonnax with Section Paloise managing a sole penalty goal from the league’s leading points scorer, Joe Simmonds.
Contrary, Stade Charles-Mathon celebrated an additional 14 points from the boot of Domingo Miotti with Winger Daniel Ikpefan also touching down 2 minutes from full-time.

Clermont v Bordeaux
FT = Clermont 35 – 40 Bordeaux
This game was an absolute see-saw of an affair with no less than 3 lead-changes in the final tense 6 minutes. Both sides exchanged early converted tries; UBB via South African Winger Madosh Tambwe, and ASM courtesy of Aussie Lock Rob Simmons. Bordeaux piled on another 16 first half points thanks to the boot of Maxime Lucu, and Tambwe’s second cross of the night. Clermont’s Anothony Belleau did knock over a penalty of his own but was not successful with the conversion attempt following Etienne Falgoux’s try which came because of the sinbinning to Bordeaux’s own Prop, Ugo Boniface. Both sides put on a nail-biting, mouth-watering second period. The 67 th minute saw a Belleau penalty hand his club a 32-26
lead, but less than 5 minutes later, UBB’s Jefferson Poirot scored a try; Lucu added the extras with ease and the visitors were back in front by a solitary point. Cue, an ASM response that produced an additional Belleau goal which gave the hosts an uneasy 2-point lead with less than 3 minutes remaining. And, with only 120 seconds left on the clock, Bordeaux did what Bordeaux do best and conjured up a last gasp try by Aussie substitute Pete Samu. That handed the Burgandy outfit a deserved 6 th consecutive victory.

Bayonne v Racing 92
FT = Bayonne 27 – 23 Racing
Jean-Dauger Stadium was witness to one of the best comebacks and boldest finishes of the season. It was a tale of two halves with Racing scoring first half tries via Englishman Henry Arundell and the teams talismanic Scrum-Half Nolann Le Garrec. Tristan Tedder added 7 solo points to give his team a commanding 3-17 lead. L’Aviron failed to score for over half an hour until just after the break when it was Camille Lopez again who struck gold from the tee. Racing may have kept control on the scoreboard until the final moments of the match, but the home side were the ones to inflict the damage. Bayonne scored a converted try just before the hour mark when Racing’s Gogichashvili was handed an extremely costly yellow with just 12 minutes remaining and his side 13-23 in front. But, cometh the hour cometh the man, and that was to be Bayonne’s cult hero Fly-Half Lopez! He had a hand in Acquier’s try (which he duly converted), pegging the scoreboard back to 20-23 with mere minutes to go.
And then his perfectly weighted cross-field kick found Remy Baget on the touchline, 30m out, and with the siren about to sound, the Winger fended off his opposite number, evaded another tackler, and slid in for the match winning try to overthrow the Parisian giants!

Toulon v Stade Francais
FT = Toulon 19 – 5 Stade
It wasn’t the most glamorous of games at Stade Mayol, but it was still an important one as both sides played for the annual Christophe Dominici Trophy. Stade Francais stuttered in the first period, failing to land a single point, whereas Toulon scored twice thanks to mid-season signing Melvyn Jaminet. Le Rouge et Noir were 9-0 up before the Parisian outfit managed their first score through Winger Peniasi Dakuwaqu in the 46 th minute. Not only was that to be their initial score, but it was also to be Stade’s last. The Pink Army did suffer 2 consecutive sinbinning’s which gave RCT the opportunity to increase their lead; and they did so via another 5 Jaminet points, and a first Leicester Fainga'anuku try on his home debut.

La Rochelle v Toulouse
FT = La Rochelle 29 – 8 Toulouse
Le Noir et Rouge made the trip to La Rochelle minus a raft of internationals, and it showed!
Right from the off Josh Brennan was yellow carded which resulted in a Penalty Try for Les Maritimes. They continued that flow of attacking rugby- Antoine Hastoy coming on early and working a nice Inside Centre foil for young Fly-Half Hugo Reus-, with 2 more first half tries thanks to Levan Botia and 19-year-old Winger Nathan Bollengier. Reus- and his 92% boot accuracy- hit both those conversions and added a penalty, whilst Toulouse could manage only 1 Germain goal. La Rochelle had a commanding 24-3 lead going into the change-rooms and that didn’t let up in the second period with both sides exchanging just the 1 try; Jaune et Noir through Dillyn Leyds, and ST courtesy of Clement Verge after the siren to give his club some sort of second half score. It was a much-needed victory for the home side who saw out 2023 with a stop to their 3-game losing streak, and the mighty (early!) return of Gregory Alldritt.

Lyon v Montpellier
FT = Lyon 20 -18 Montpellier

What a breathless end with the visitors falling- literally- just short of victory when a Louis Carbonel drop-goal attempt after the siren, was unsuccessful. It was never going to be an easy-going game for Montpellier when they were reduced to 13 men only 16 minutes into the match after Forwards Harry Williams and Lenni Nouchi saw yellow. It resulted in a Lyon Penalty Try which added to an earlier Paddy Jackson penalty goal, before another 7 points were accumulated for LOU as Davit Niniashvili touched down inside the first quarter. The Full-Backs fine form was a large part of his side’s success: 19 carries, 2 line-breaks and 6 defenders beaten. Montpellier may have been down 17-3 at the 26-minute mark, but they still fought back courtesy of tries from Vano Karkadze and Carbonel. 17-15 at the main break and it was still anyone’s game. Both sides wasted second period opportunities and traded 1 penalty goal apiece for the whole 40 minutes. The Louis Carbonel missed drop-goal gave Matmut Stadium cause for celebration, but meant that recent Top 14 Champions, MHR, finished the year afoot the league’s table.

Castres v Perpignan
FT = Castres 13 - 17 Perpignan
Perpignan handed Castres their first home defeat in 316 days and gave themselves breathing space ahead 14 th placed Montpellier. The home team got the stadium pumping early when pocket-rocket Santiago Arata crossed in just the 3 rd minute. Half-Back partner Pierre Popelin added the extras, plus a penalty, to hand his side a 10-0 lead inside as many minutes. Not to be outdone, Perpignan hit right back and made the second quarter their own, drawing level 10-10 at the main break courtesy of a Acebes try and Tommaso Allen’s own 5-point haul. It looked like things were about to fall apart for the Catalan club right after the break when 2 players were sin-binned: first, Inside Centre Jeronoimo de la Fuente, and then Loosehead Xavier Chiocci. But even though Castre’s Tom Staniforth made 18 carries, his side were unable to capitalise on the 1-man advantage over the whole 20-minute period. They failed to score a single point, and only did so thanks to a Popelin penalty when USAP were back up to 15 players. Without having relinquished the lead all day, CO ran down the clock with a slim 3-point advantage. But Perpignan were adamant to get that first away victory of the season, and with the siren sounding, somehow, just somehow, USAP Winger Tavite Veredamun touched down to hand his side a sensational win at one of the toughest fortresses in Europe!

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