Stade Français claimed a 27-14 victory over La Rochelle, while there were also wins for Toulouse, Toulon, Bordeaux Begles, Agen, Castres and Lyon in the French Top 14.
Stade, coached by former Springbok mentor Heyneke Meyer, went into the match occupying the sixth and final playoff place and stayed there despite the victory. However, they are currently five points off La Rochelle, who remain in third position, and just a single point from defending champions Castres, who sit in seventh.
Unbeaten at home this season, La Rochelle were expected to see off Stade Français but the Parisians flew out of the blocks in the first half, opening the scoring through a converted try from Siegfried Fisiihoi.
It was just six minutes later that lock Hendre Stassen muscled over, with experienced flyhalf Nicolás Sánchez converting and adding two penalties to take the visitors into a 17-point half-time lead as La Rochelle responded through a penalty from Ihaia West.
The second half was far more tightly contested, as La Rochelle were able to cut down the deficit through a further couple of penalties from West. However, outgoing Stade scrumhalf Piet van Zyl then went over to make it 27-9. The home side could only muster an unconverted consolation try from Jeremy Sinzelle in response.
Meanwhile, Toulouse stayed on top of the log thanks to a home 27-14 victory over Montpellier. The visitors scored their only try through Jacques du Plessis, but the home side quickly recovered and levelled matters when they were awarded a penalty try. The second half belonged to Toulouse, who went ahead thanks to two penalties and try from flyhalf Zack Holmes.
Toulouse’s hopes of finishing first were given a boost as second-placed Clermont lost 19-13 to Lyon on Sunday.
In other results, Bordeaux beat Grenoble in a 47-31 thriller, Toulon – without the services of Julien Savea – were victorious 38-11 over Pau, Agen claimed a vital 20-13 away win against Perpignan and Castres kept their hopes of making the playoffs alive by beating Racing 18-9.
Round 17 results:
La Rochelle 14 Stade Français 27
Bordeaux Begles 47 Grenoble 31
Toulouse 27 Montpellier 14
Toulon 38 Pau 11
Perpignan 13 Agen 20
Castres 18 Racing 92 9
Lyon 19 Clermont 13
Photo: Eddy Lemaistre/Getty Images