Toulon topple champs
Losing bonus point enough for Toulouse to retain championship lead
Last Updated: 05/05/12 6:26pm
Tough battle: Matt Giteau tries to escape Thierry Dusautoir
Toulon booked their place in the Top 14 play-offs with a narrow win at home to defending champions Toulouse on Saturday.
A losing bonus point was enough for Toulouse to retain the championship lead however, as Clermont lost on the road to Castres.
Racing join Castres in the play-offs after eliminating Parisian rivals Stade Français from the race in a tight battle in the capital.
Brive are now favourites to be relegated with Lyon after losing heavily at home to Bordeaux-Bègles while Bayonne won with a bonus point against Agen.
Elsewhere, Perpignan ensured their survival with a bad-tempered win over Lyon.
On Friday, Biarritz also secured their place in the top division next season by getting a losing bonus point in Montpellier.
RC Toulon 25-22 Stade Toulousain
A huge result for Toulon who came from behind to beat a near-full-strength Toulouse side and virtually assure a home play-off in the process.
Toulouse have now lost six of their last nine games in all competitions despite having started the match in great style, taking a 16-8 lead into the half-time break thanks to a try from Vincent Clerc.
It seemed like Toulouse had got their mojo back as they were playing great rugby, but Toulon fought back in the second period with Steffon Armitage continuing his strong recent form with the winning try in the 65th minute.
Lionel Beauxis and Jonny Wilkinson traded early penalties in a pulsating match played in perfect conditions, the Toulouse man hitting a second before the home side hit back.
Toulon centre Matt Giteau made a scything break through a porous defence before sending out an inch-perfect pass to Alexis Palisson, the France winger crossing in the corner for a try Wilkinson failed to convert.
Clerc responded with a well-taken try after a similar miss-pass from Beauxis, who nailed the extras and a 33rd minute penalty for a 16-8 Toulouse lead.
Welsh prop Eifion Lewis-Roberts was bundled over for a timely converted try early in the second-half for the hosts before Beauxis and Wilkinson again traded penalties.
Armitage scored the decisive five-pointer, jinking through under the posts after a period of sustained pressure.
Wilkinson converted to make it 25-19 with 15 minutes to play, Beauxis hitting a penalty shortly after, but the home side held out for the victory.
Aviron Bayonnais 31-10 SU Agen
Bayonne's expensively assembled squad finally produced the goods, outscoring their visitors four tries to one to move within touching distance of safety.
Bayonne waited for the second last round of the championship to record their first bonus point win and climb out of the relegation zone, five points clear of Brive.
Brive's failure to get a bonus point means that Agen are also safe.
Agen led 10-7 thanks to a try from full-back Brice Dulin, who cancelled out Bayonne centre Sam Gerber's touchdown.
But the Bayonne pack dominated the second half, winning a penalty try and setting up two more.
CA Brive Corrèze 9-23 Union Bordeaux-Bègles
Brive are almost certain to be relegated after failing to come up with the goods when it mattered most.
Now five points adrift of Bayonne, Brive now face the prospect of not only having to win with a bonus point in their final away game at heavyweights Clermont, but also need Bayonne to lose, without a defensive bonus point, away to Castres.
Castres Olympique 30-19 ASM Clermont Auvergne
Castres booked their place in the play-offs by inflicting only Clermont fifth loss of the season.
One point behind Montpellier, CO will also fancy their chances of bagging a home play-off next week against Bayonne as Montpellier must visit Toulouse.
Castres full-back Romain Teulet become the first man in world rugby to score 3000 points for a single club with the game's opening penalty.
Clermont sent a second-string team but still managed to open the scoring via a try from lock Loic Jacquet.
But Castres were 17-7 ahead at half time tanks to tries from flank Ibrahim Diarra and centre Max Evans.
A second-half try from Romain Martial proved enough for victory.USA Perpignan 34-22 Lyon Olympique
Mission accomplished for USAP, who assured their place in the Top 14 next season, despite playing nearly an hour with a man down after hooker Guilhem Guirado was red carded for a tip tackle.
It was an emotional day for Perry Freshwater, Olivier Olibeau, Marius Tincu, Grégory Le Corvec, Rimas Alvarez-Kairelis, Damien Chouly and Gerrie Britz, who all played their last game at Stade Aimé Giral.
Two excellent tries from Adrien Planté and David Marty helped USAP a 23-12 lead at half time before Chouly sealed the win in the second period.
Mickael Forest's late consolation try for Lyon denied Perpignan a bonus point but the Catalans still climbed to eighth in the standings.
Racing-Métro 19-13 Stade Français Paris
In the season's second Paris derby, Racing took revenge for their heavily loss at the same venue in Round 12.
This time around Pierre Berbizier's men clinched a crucial victory that leaves Stade Français five points adrift of the play-off berths and needing a minor miracle to make the top six.
Stade Français took the early lead via a try from wing Julien Arias but Racing were 13-10 ahead at the break thanks to scrum-half Sebastien Descons's touchdown just before the break when Stade were a man down after Felipe Contepomi was sent to the bin for playing the ball on the ground.
Two second-half penalties from full-back Jonathan Wisniewski were enough to secure victory for Racing.
Fri 24th Apr
Stade Francais0 - 0Toulouse
Sat 25th Apr
La Rochelle0 - 0Toulon
Bayonne0 - 0Grenoble
Brive0 - 0Montpellier
Lyon0 - 0Bordeaux-Begles
Oyonnax0 - 0Racing Metro Paris
Castres0 - 0Clermont Auvergne
Sat 9th May
Bordeaux-Begles0 - 0Oyonnax
Grenoble0 - 0Clermont Auvergne
Lyon0 - 0La Rochelle
Montpellier0 - 0Bayonne
Racing Metro Paris0 - 0Stade Francais
Toulon0 - 0Castres
Toulouse0 - 0Brive
Sat 16th May
Bordeaux-Begles0 - 0Bayonne
Castres0 - 0Brive
Clermont Auvergne0 - 0Toulon
Grenoble0 - 0Toulouse
La Rochelle0 - 0Racing Metro Paris
Oyonnax0 - 0Lyon
Stade Francais0 - 0Montpellier
Sat 23rd May
Bayonne0 - 0La Rochelle
Brive0 - 0Stade Francais
Lyon0 - 0Grenoble
Montpellier0 - 0Clermont Auvergne
Racing Metro Paris0 - 0Castres
Toulon0 - 0Oyonnax
Toulouse0 - 0Bordeaux-Begles