The long-awaited return of Bok wing Bryan Habana for Toulon was put on hold in a tense match against Toulouse on Saturday.
Habana has been out of action since injuring his hamstring in December and was named on the bench, but he was not called into battle as Toulon won 32-28. The former Shark Frédéric Michalak scored a try and kicked two conversions and six penalties to keep his team in second place, one point behind new leaders Montpellier.
It was all change among the top six in a day of surprises. Montpellier rose to the top of the log with a six-try 43-27 win over Bayonne, based on a hat-trick from Fijian wing Timoci Nagusa
Castres, fourth on the log, will be disappointed with a 34-34 draw against relegated Biarritz. Rory Kockott contributed 19 points for Castres with five penalties and two conversions, but he was matched by Demitri Yachvili as both sides scored three tries..
Stade Français dropped back with a surprising 32-22 loss to Racing Métro. Three tries, including one by Springbok lock Juandré Kruger, was enough to see off Stade, despite the efforts of Morné Steyn, who kicked three penalties and a drop goal.
The battle at the top took an interesting turn when Brive surprised the leaders, Clermont, 26-24 on Friday night.
Brive were 23-10 ahead with just 15 minutes remaining at Stade Amédée Domenech, aided no doubt by the fact that two yellow cards reduced Clermont to 13 men for seven minutes. But still, late tries from Damien Chouly and Naipolioni Nalaga took them agonisingly close. They dropped down to third on the log.
Brive 26 Clermont Auvergne 24
Stade Français 22 Racing Métro 32
Biarritz 34 Castres 34
Bordeaux Begles 23 Perpignan 5
Montpellier 43 Bayonne 27
Oyonnax 40 Grenoble 13
Toulon 32 Toulouse 28
Photo: Anne-Christine Poujoulat/AFP Photo