Jan Serfontein scored the winning try as Montpellier beat Bordeaux 11-10, while there were also French Top 14 wins for Agen, Castres, Oyonnax, Pau, Toulouse and Toulon.
With Racing and Toulouse steadily closing in on them at the top of the table, Montpellier needed a win to put some space between themselves and the chasing pack. And they did just that, albeit in a dull, low-scoring contest.
Ruan Pienaar gave Montpellier a 3-0 lead, but Bordeaux wing Ed Fidow scored two tries – one either side of the break – to give Bordeaux a seven-point advantage.
Pienaar reduced the deficit with a second penalty goal, but it was only after Bordeaux conceded a yellow card that Montpellier would score a try. The numerical advantage allowed Serfontein to burst through to score the match-defining try in the 61st minute.
In other results, Johann Sadie scored a crucial try as Agen edged Stade Français 36-34, Castres defeated Lyon 33-22, bottom feeders Oyonnax stunned Clermont 18-12, Pau upset a star-studded Racing 24-15, wing Cheslin Kolbe was back on the scoresheet for Toulouse who ousted Brive 45-28 and JP Pietersen scored one of two tries in Toulon’s 27-20 comeback victory over La Rochelle.
Round 18 results:
Montpellier 11 Bordeaux 10
Stade Français 34 Agen 36
Castres 33 Lyon 22
Clermont 18 Oyonnax 22
Pau 24 Racing 15
Toulouse 45 Brive 28
La Rochelle 20 Toulon 27
Photo: Alexandre Dimou/Icon Sport