Montpellier beat Toulon 36-21, while there were also wins for Toulouse, Racing, Castres, Bordeaux, Stade Français and Pau in the penultimate round of the Top 14.
Jake White’s men scored three tries, through hooker Mickael Ivaldi and winger Timoci Nagusa (two), while South Africans flyhalf Demetri Catrakilis and inside centre Frans Steyn contributed 12 and nine points with the boot respectively.
Montpellier led 20-15 at the break thanks to tries from Ivaldi and Nagusa. Toulon narrowed the gap to just two points early in the second half with a penalty goal, but Montpellier responded with Nagusa’s second try.
Catrakilis slotted all three conversions and also kicked two penalties, while Steyn was successful with three penalties.
Other South Africans in the Montpellier starting XV were Pierre Spies, Wian Liebenberg, Paul Willemse and Jacques du Plessis. Robert Ebersohn and Jannie du Plessis were on the bench.
Meanwhile, log-leaders Clermont lost 22-11 to Toulouse, who made sure they can’t finish lower than fifth, thus sealing a place in the playoffs.
Clermont raced to an early 8-0 lead with an unconverted try by Camille Gerondea and a penalty by Brock James. But the hosts responded well to the early setback, scoring 13 unanswered points. James did pull three points back for Clermont before the break, but Toulouse still led 13-11.
Those were Clermont’s last points of the match as Toulouse surprisingly kept them scoreless in the second half, while three different kickers (Sebastien Bezy, Florian Fritz and Jean-Marc Doussain) all added penalty goals to the winners’ tally.
Meanwhile, Racing claimed a comfortable 30-14 victory over hosts La Rochelle. Wing Juan Imhoff bagged a double for the European Champions Cup runners-up, who stay in contention for automatic semi-final qualification with a top two finish.
Rory Kockott kicked 20 points as Castres edged Oyonnax 25-20 to retain sixth place in the standings. Kockott kicked six penalties with David Smith scoring a 74th-minute converted try.
Bordeaux kept pressure on Castres with a clinical 34-7 bonus-point win over Brive. Coming into this round, Bordeaux trailed Castres by a solitary log point, but the bonus-point result sees them draw level on 67 with one round remaining.
In other matches, a last-minute penalty saw Stade Français escape with a 28-26 win over Agen. Pau hammered Grenoble 29-12 thanks to a superb individual performance by former All Blacks flyhalf Colin Slade who scored 15 points via two tries, a conversion and a penalty.
Round 25 results:
Toulouse 22 Clermont 11
La Rochelle 14 Racing 30
Oyonnax 20 Castres 25
Bordeaux 34 Brive 7
Stade Français 28 Agen 26
Pau 29 Grenoble 12
Toulon 21 Montpellier 36
Photo: Sylvain Thomas/AFP Photo