Montpellier turn heat up on leaders

Montpellier thrashed Grenoble 51-10, while there were also Top 14 wins for Racing, Toulouse, Castres, Bordeaux, Oyonnax and Agen.

With only four rounds remaining, Montpellier’s seven-try demolition of Grenoble moves them within two points of log leaders Clermont, a feat that looked all but impossible midway through the campaign. But the Saffa-laden Montpellier turned their fortunes around during the second half of the season and have been the form team in the competition over the last few weeks.

Three first-half tries pushed the hosts out to a 25-10 lead at the break, before an equally strong second-half surge, which included tries by hooker Bismarck du Plessis, flyhalf Frans Steyn and lock Jacques du Plessis, guided them to an emphatic victory.

Meanwhile, table-toppers Clermont suffered a setback with a 26-20 defeat at the hands of Racing. Clermont outscored their hosts two tries to one in Paris, but scrumhalf Maxime Machenaud nailed seven successful penalty goals to hand Racing a win that moves them up to third.

Elsewhere, former Bok flank Juan Smith's last-minute converted try wasn’t enough for Toulon, who lost 12-10 to bitter rivals Toulouse. With this result, the winners narrowed the gap between them and Toulon to just seven log points. The defeat also sees Toulon drop from third to fourth in the standings.

In other games, Castres recorded a convincing 37-6 bonus-point win over Pau, to stay in the final playoff spot; Bordeaux recorded a 35-25 bonus-point victory against Stade Français as they look to take sixth place off Castres; Oyonnax snuck past La Rochelle 17-16, and flyhalf Burton Francis contributed 12 points for bottom-feeders Agen in their shock 37-19 bonus-point triumph over Brive.

Round 22 results:

Montpellier 51 Grenoble 10
Racing 26 Clermont 20
Toulon 10 Toulouse 12
Castres 37 Pau 6
Bordeaux 35 Stade Français 25
Oyonnax 17 La Rochelle 16
Agen 37 Brive 19

Photo: Alexandre Dimou/Icon Sport/Getty Images

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