Castres delivered an eye-catching 31-23 victory over Top 14 champions Racing 92 at Stade Pierre Antoine.
A pulsating fixture saw the teams locked up at 13 all at halftime, with a try apiece from France loose-head prop Eddy Ben Arous for Racing, and second-row Rodrigo Capo Ortega for the home side.
The second half saw five-pointers from Geoffrey Palis and Benjamin Urdapilleta, and 16 points from the boot of the latter saw Castres come out on top, with new signing Leone Nakarawa getting on the score-sheet for the Parisian side.
La Rochelle were too strong for Bayonne at home with a solid 34-17 victory at Stade Marcel Deflandre.
With the score locked at 6-6 after 30 minutes, La Rochelle then struck twice in the 10 minutes before half time, first through Hikairo Forbes and then thanks to a penalty try. Brock James converted both to give his team a healthy 20-6 lead.
Bayonne came back into the game after the break as Raphael Lagarde slotted two penalties, but a Vincent Rattez try gave La Rochelle a commanding lead with 20 minutes to play. Pierre Aguillon made sure of the result with his side’s fourth try despite a yellow card for Jone Qovu, which forced the home side to see out the game with 14 men.
Bayonne used that advantage to score a consolation try in the 81st minute through Martin Laveau.
Adam Ashley-Cooper bagged a hat-trick of tries as Bordeaux-Bègles defeated Lyon 32-10 at Stade Chaban Delmas.
The hosts held a 27-3 lead at the break thanks to Ashley-Cooper’s first two tries and one from Luke Braid in an excellent first-half.
Ian Madigan had brought his kicking boots, and his conversions plus two penalties saw the hosts on the right path to a bonus point win.
A try from Lyon full-back Romain Loursac threatened that eventuality, but Ashley-Cooper’s third score sealed the five points.
At the Stade des Alpes, Pau sneaked a 39-38 victory over Grenoble thanks to an 81st minute Tom Taylor penalty.
The hosts led 29-16 at half-time, with Jonathan Wisniewski contributing 28 points for the game, and it all looked over in the 79th minute when Wisniewski kicked his eighth penalty to give his side a narrow 38-36 lead.
Pau weren’t done though, and Taylor showed his class with a nerveless last kick of the game that gave his team a memorable away victory.
The visitors needed to score first in the second half, and they did so, reducing the deficit to 29-26 before Sona Taumalolo got sin-binned. Pau failed to add any points in that period but when he returned his team added a Jale Vatubua try, then another penalty by Taylor gave them a 36-35 lead before the grandstand finish.
In the late kick-off, Toulouse overcame Stade Francais 23-18 at the Stade Ernest Wallon.
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