La Rochelle beat Castres 25-21 in the French Top 14, while Clermont, Racing, Grenoble, Brive and Toulon also won.
Plucky La Rochelle kept a disjointed Castres outfit at bay to secure their fifth win of the campaign at home.
Four days after his omission from France’s Six Nations squad, Rory Kockott produced a superb halfback performance, finishing with all of Castres’ points, but his efforts were only enough to land his side a losing bonus point.
Kockott popped over three penalties and ripped the ball off Zack Holmes to score in the first half. But La Rochelle countered with five penalties by Holmes to lead 15-14 going into the sheds.
Soon after the break, Jone Qovu broke away from a rolling maul for a converted try. But Kockott continued to keep Castres in the game. A quick tap from a penalty saw him score his and Castres’ second try, before landing the conversion to cut the deficit to one. But when the visitors were reduced to 14 men, Holmes knocked over another penalty to secure the win.
Meanwhile, Racing outplayed Bordeaux to win 23-18 at the Stade Yves du Manoir near Paris. Bordeaux took a 12-7 lead via four Simon Hickey penalties, while Dimitri Szarzewski’s converted try got Racing on the board. But a second try for the hosts, through Alexandre Dumoulin, gave them an unassailable advantage. Flyhalf Dan Carter converted both tries, while also adding three penalties in a win that puts Racing at the summit of the standings.
Grenoble ran in five tries to demolish Oyonnax 42-17. Gio Aplon, Hendrik Roodt and Charl McLeod were among the scorers for the winners, who in turn only conceded two tries to the struggling Oyonnax.
Elsewhere, a brace by No 8 Camille Gerondeau, coupled with a penalty try, guided Clermont to a 33-16 victory over Agen. A self-converted try and three penalty goals by flyhalf Burton Francis accounted for all the hosts’ points, but in the end they came up short after referee Romain Poite red-carded lock Apisalome Ratuniyarawa for foul play. Clermont’s Camille Lopez added all the conversions and four penalties to wrap up a deserved win.
Brive erased a 12-3 deficit before withstanding a late onslaught to defeat Montpellier 19-18. Pivot Teddy Iribaren contributed 14 points for the winners, while inside centre Poutasi Luafutu crossed for the only try of the match. Montpellier’s points came via five penalties by halfback pairing Demetri Catrakilis (four) and Benoit Paillaugue (one).
On Sunday, Toulon returned to winning ways with a 21-17 victory over Pau. Australia’s James O’Connor was the match-winner with two tries, while Konstantin Mikautadze chipped in with a third try for the hosts and Tom Taylor with two first-half penalties. Pau staged a comeback late in the second half when first All Black Conrad Smith scored, before the referee awarded them a penalty try. Another World Cup-winner, Colin Slade, converted on both occasions, but it was too little too late.
Round 12 results:
La Rochelle 25 Castres 21
Racing 23 Bordeaux 18
Grenoble 42 Oyonnax 17
Clermont 33 Agen 16
Brive 19 Montpellier 18
Toulon 21 Pau 17
Photo: Xavier Leoty/AFP Photo