After the postponement of matches involving Stade Francais and Racing 92 following their merger announcement which has since been scrapped, there were just five matches on offer in the Top 14 this weekend.
Clermont bounced back from last week’s loss to Montpellier by crushing fourth-placed Pau 65-13 at Stade Marcel Michelin.
After a pair of Morgan Parra penalties, the hosts scored three tries in quick succession through Flip van der Merwe, Benjamin Kayser and Raphael Chaume to race out to a 25-0 lead.
Tom Taylor kicked two penalties for Pau to reduce the deficit to 25-6 at half-time before Clermont came flying out at the break and scored through Fritz Lee in the 42nd minute.
David Strettle added another for Clermont, and while Paddy Butler managed to score for Pau it was no sign of a comeback as Clermont scored another four tries in a dominant display.
Levani Botia makes a strong carry for La Rochelle against Brive. XAVIER LEOTY/AFP/Getty Images
La Rochelle kept the buffer at the summit of the Top 14 standings at eight points after a comfortable 36-17 victory over league strugglers Brive at Stade Marcel Deflandre.
The damage was done in the first half as La Rochelle ran in four tries through Vincent Rattez, Elliot Roudil, Jason Eaton and Benjamin Noble to lead 28-10 at the break.
Brive began to muster a comebeack when Sisa Koyamaibole scored in the 58th minute to reduce the deficit to 11 points, but a red card Patrick-Albert Toetu with 15 minutes remaining scuttled those hopes.
La Rochelle held firm as Brock James kicked a penalty before Mathieu Tanguy scored in the final play of the match to seal the result.
Gabiriele Lovobalavu celebrates with his Bayonne teammates after scoring in their win over Bordeaux. GAIZKA IROZ/AFP/Getty Images
Bayonne provided the big shock in Saturday’s trio of clashes when the side placed 13th in the league stunned Bordeaux Begles 24-20 to maintain hope of staying in the top flight of French club rugby.
The hosts started well and led 13-0 midway through the first half thanks to a Jean Monribot try and two penalties off the boot of Martin Bustos Moyano.
Simon Hickey got the visitors on the scoresheet with a penalty, but Gabiriele Lovobalavu’s try not long after kept Bayonne on the front foot entering the second half.
Hickey and Bustos Moyano exchanged penalties in the second half before Bustos Moyano was yellow carded, and Bordeaux made the numerical advantage count when Ole Avei scored.
But as UBB looked to be turning the screws Bayonne did enough to hold on as Ireland international Ian Madigan scored a consolation for the visitors in the last play of the match.
Alexis Palisson runs in for one of his three tries in Toulouse’s win over Lyon. REMY GABALDA/AFP/Getty Images
A fortnight after suffering a sickening head clash yet somehow passing the HIA tests, Alexis Palisson scored a hat-trick of tries as Toulouse recorded a bonus point 42-26 win over Lyon at Stade Ernest-Wallon.
Julien Marchand got the home side off to a flying start with a second minute score before Palisson got his first of the afternoon in the 16th minute.
Lyon hit back not long after through Deon Fourie, but Palisson got his second and then Gillian Galan got in on the action to wrap up the fourth try bonus point within 35 minutes.
Lyon mounted a comeback, and managed three tries on the bounce to reduce the deficit to eight points midway through the second half.
But as the pendulum was swinging in the visitors favour Jean-Marc Doussain kicked a crucial penalty before Palisson completed his hat-trick to secure a much needed win for the hosts.
Romain Taofifenua scores Toulon’s first try in their win over Grenoble. ROMAIN LAFABREGUE/AFP/Getty Images
In the last of the five matches from the weekend Grenoble stunned glamour club Toulon as they overturned a 17-point deficit to draw 23-23 at Stade des Alpes.
Tries from Romain Taofifenua and Laurent Delboulbes as well as a penalty from Pierre Bernard saw the visitors run out to a 17-0 advantage inside half an hour.
Grenoble’s Fabien Alexandre was yellow carded as half-time approached, but the hosts managed to get on the score-sheet with a man down through Maritino Nemani. Jonathan Wisniewski converted to cut Toulon’s lead to 17-7 at the break.
Both side’s exchanged penalties in the second half, with Bernard’s third of the match keeping the buffer at seven points with 10 minutes remaining.
Another yellow card — this time to Grenoble’s Laurent Bouchet — looked to have scuppered any hope for the home side, but as they showed in the first half they were capable of scoring with 14 men on the field and they managed to do it again in the 79th minute as Henry Vanderglas scored much to the delight of the home fans.
Wisniewski stepped up and converted the try to draw the match to remain three points clear of Bayonne at the foot of the table.
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Top 14 Wrap – Clermont thump Pau
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