Brive halt Racing’s charge

Brive defeated Racing 33-27, while there were also Top 14 wins for Bordeaux, Clermont, La Rochelle, Stade Français, Toulouse and Toulon.

In an ill-disciplined contest which resulted in five yellow cards, three for Brive and two for Racing, fullback Gaëtan Germain contributed 18 points – three conversions and four penalties – to ensure the hosts came away with log points on offer.

Racing opened up a 21-13 lead courtesy of three converted tries by hooker Camille Chat and winger Marc Andreu (two), while Brive’s points came via a converted try and two penalties. However, an inspired final 10 minutes before the break saw South African-born lock Johan Snyman score to bring Brive within a point, before Germain slotted a penalty to put them 23-21 up.

The hosts made a bright start to the second half as another quick-fire 10-point haul, a converted try and Germain’s fourth penalty, extended their lead to 33-21. Racing could only reply with two penalties through the boot of Benjamin Dambielle.

Despite Racing fielding a second-string XV, the result could have a big impact on whether they finish in the top two to gain automatic passage through to the semi-finals or whether they have to play a qualifier first.

Meanwhile, Bordeaux ground out a 20-14 win over Grenoble to move up to sixth on the log at the expense of Castres. Log leaders Clermont returned to winning ways with a 16-10 victory against Pau away from home to stay ahead of the chasing pack.

Elsewhere, La Rochelle claimed a 36-10 bonus-point win over Montpellier, who gave game time to most of their fringe players while resting the regular starters in preparation for the upcoming European Challenge Cup final.

Stuttering defending champions Stade Français finally played to the best of their ability when they ran 10 tries past Oyonnax to wrap up a 69-9 victory. Flank Jono Ross opened the scoring with a try for the winners, while Morné Steyn came on in the second half to add the last three conversions.

Playoff contenders Toulouse hammered Agen 52-19 in an eight-try romp. Outside centre Johann Sadie scored for Agen and flyhalf Burton Francis kicked one conversion. The victory moves Toulouse to within two log points of Racing in the standings.

And in the final game of the round, Toulon beat Castres 17-10. The result moves the winners up to third on the log ahead of Racing and leaves them one point adrift of second-placed Montpellier, while Castres drop out of the top six.

Round 23 results:

Brive 33 Racing 27
Grenoble 14 Bordeaux 20
Pau 10 Clermont 16
La Rochelle 36 Montpellier 10
Stade Français 69 Oyonnax 9 
Toulouse 52 Agen 19
Toulon 17 Castres 10

Photo: Diarmid Courreges/AFP Photo

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