Montpellier thrashed Agen 45-20 to return to winning ways in the Top 14, while there were also wins for Oyonnax, Bordeaux, Castres, Pau and Racing.
In need of a victory in the domestic competition, Jake White’s side built on their spirited performances in the European Challenge Cup over the past fortnight to down Agen in a seven-try rout at the Altrad Stadium.
The hosts raced to a 10-point advantage via a converted try by ex-France international Julien Malzieu and a Demetri Catrakilis penalty.
Bok hooker Bismarck du Plessis, who returned to the starting XV, then made his presence felt with a barnstorming run over the tryline from the back of a rolling maul with Catrakilis adding the extras to extend Montpellier’s lead.
Burton Francis kicked two penalties to get Agen back in the contest, as they trailed 17-6 at half-time.
The second half was even more one-sided as Montpellier ran in four further tries, all converted by Catrakilis, while conceding only two tries to Agen, for a deserving bonus-point win that took them into the top half of the standings.
Meanwhile, Oyonnax stunned defending champions Stade Français 25-12 to register only their third win of the campaign. Three penalties both ways left the teams deadlocked at 9-9 the break. Stade led briefly once Morné Steyn popped over his fourth penalty shortly into the second half. But his best efforts were in vain, as two more penalty goals and a converted try sealed the result in Oyonnax’s favour.
Also on the up are Bordeaux as they defeated Grenoble 25-19 to temporarily move to third on the log. Three tries, including one by lock Jandré Marais, proved enough for the hosts, despite a late onslaught from Grenoble.
Elsewhere, scrumhalf Rory Kockott kicked 13 points (three penalties and two conversions) to guide Castres to a 23-8 win over Brive. With the scores level at 3-3, Castres pulled away with two converted tries and as many penalty goals for a 20-point lead. Brive showed some resistance to burrow over for a late consolation effort.
And in keeping with home-side dominance, Pau edged La Rochelle 15-11. All Black Colin Slade knocked over three penalties and a drop goal, while Damien Traille landed a 50m penalty of his own to push the hosts out to 15-0. La Rochelle fought back to within four points, but steely defence by Pau denied the visitors a dramatic win.
Clermont suffered a 20-16 defeat against Racing to become the first team to lose at home this weekend. Trailing 9-6 at half-time, Racing fought back with tries by backs Johan Goosen and Henry Chavancy. Scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud converted both. Clermont put up a brave fight in the final quarter that resulted in a try for Fritz Lee, but in the end, Racing's total proved a bridge too far for the table toppers.
Round 11 results:
Montpellier 45 Agen 20
Oyonnax 25 Stade Français 12
Bordeaux 25 Grenoble 19
Castres 23 Brive 8
Pau 15 La Rochelle 11
Clermont 16 Racing 20
Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP Photo