Duane’s Toulon hold on

Toulon, led by Duane Vermeulen, snatched a 17-17 draw with La Rochelle, while there were wins for Racing, Montpellier, Bordeaux, Grenoble, Clermont and Lyon in the French Top 14.

Vermeulen was playing in only his second game back for the former champions, but it was a much tougher challenge than last weekend’s match.

In a low-quality first half, La Rochelle took a slender 6-3 lead into the break. Toulon, who also had lock Juandré Kruger and prop Marcel van der Merwe in their side, dominated the second half and erased the deficit to go 14-9 up with a try, a drop goal and a penalty.

With 15 minutes remaining, La Rochelle found their second wind and overtook Toulon with a penalty by Brock James and an unconverted from centre Steeve Barry. The result look secured, but in another twist, La Rochelle conceded a penalty which Pierre Bernard coolly converted to ensure Toulon came away with a share of the spoils.

Elsewhere, Racing put the allegations surrounding the illegal use of steroids levelled at them aside to win the Paris derby against Stade Français 29-22.

Jake White’s Montpellier returned to winning ways with a 28-19 victory over Rory Kockott’s Castres; Bordeaux edged Brive 27-25; and the lowly Grenoble stunned Bayonne 44-16 to come away with a much-needed bonus-point win.

On Sunday, Frederick Michalak contributed 17 points to guide Lyon to a 27-22 triumph against Pau, and Clermont clinched a hard-fought 29-25 win over Toulouse to go four points clear at the top.

Round eight results:

La Rochelle 17 Toulon 17
Racing 29 Stade Français 22
Montpellier 28 Castres 19
Bordeaux 27 Brive 25
Grenoble 44 Bayonne 16
Lyon 27 Pau 22
Clermont 29 Toulouse 25

Photo: Xavier Leoty/Getty Images

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