SARugbymag.co.za looks back at the English Premiership, French Top 14 and Celtic Pro12 matches played this weekend.
Stade Français kept their playoff hopes alive with a pulsating 27-23 win over city-rivals Racing 92 in the penultimate round of the regular season. Racing occupied sixth position – the last playoff spot – but this result saw Stade draw level on 58 log points, but move above their neighbours due to a better points differential.
Racing opened the scoring through a Dan Carter penalty, but two penalties by Jules Plisson put Stade in the lead, which they didn’t relinquish despite immense pressure from the opposition.
Stade were then reduced to 14 men for foul play, but Racing failed to capitalise on the numerical advantage as Sergio Parisse intercepted a loose pass from Carter and ran 40m to score for Stade.
The players’ tempers then flared up as a brawl broke out on the stroke of half-time. Both teams were forced to complete the rest of the game with 14 men, after Stade lock Pascal Papé and Racing flank Wenceslas Lauret received red cards for throwing punches.
The penalty went Racing’s way and from there they crossed for a try to tie the scores up at 13-13 going into the break.
Stade came out firing in the second half and opened up a commanding 14-point lead, but Racing counter-punched with a 10-point haul late in the game to set up a frenetic finish. But in the end, Stade survived to come away with bragging rights and the points on offer.
In other Top 14 results, La Rochelle held on for a thrilling 40-37 win in their top-of-the-table clash against Montpellier. The win ensures that La Rochelle will finish the season at the summit of the standings. Willie du Plessis scored 22 of Montpellier’s points via a try, four conversions and three penalties.
Meanwhile, Castres hammered Toulouse 52-7, Pau edged Brive 32-27, Bayonne beat Grenoble 43-35, Clermont pipped Lyon 23-20 and Toulon dispatched Bordeaux 26-13 away from home.
Five of the top six teams – La Rochelle, Montpellier, Clermont, Toulon and Castres – have already been confirmed for the knockout stage regardless of what happens in the final round, but one of the two Paris teams will complete the playoff pool.
In the Premiership, log leaders Wasps slumped to a 32-13 defeat at the hands of Harlequins, while the Exeter Chiefs beat the Northampton Saints 36-12 to draw level with Wasps in the standings.
Saracens made light work of relegated Bristol with a 26-9 win, Bath stayed in the hunt for a semi-final spot with a 44-20 victory over Gloucester, the Leicester Tigers romped to a 41-18 bonus-point triumph against the Sale Sharks and the Newcastle Falcons edged the Worcester Warriors 16-14.
Results from the Pro12 saw the Scarlets lash Connacht 30-8 to stay third on the log, second-placed Munster routed Treviso 34-14, the Ospreys beat Ulster 24-10, Edinburgh overcame the Newport Gwent Dragons 24-20, table-toppers Leinster survived a massive scare to prevail 31-30 winners against the Glasgow Warriors, and the Cardiff Blues ousted Zebre 30-24.
Photo: Anthony Dibon/Getty Images