Bok scores as Montpellier routs leaders Lyon
TOP14 WRAP: Montpellier romped to a five-try bonus-point triumph over French leaders Lyon on Saturday.
In another match, Bordeaux-Begles defeated Racing92 on the road for the first time in 12 years to stay in second place.
Lyon’s lead over Bordeaux was cut to just one point after their second loss of the league season which worryingly followed back-to-back defeats in the European Champions Cup to Northampton and Leinster.
As expected, Montpellier was unable to hand a debut to South African World Cup winner Handre Pollard, who is still recovering from an eye socket injury.
However, the flyhalf star wasn’t missed as Montpellier moved up to fourth place after first-half tries from Fiji wing Nemani Nadolo, South Africa hooker Bismarck du Plessis and back row forward Louis Picamoles was followed by further scores from South African lock Nicolaas van Rensburg and replacement hooker Youri Delhommel in the closing 10 minutes.
Benoit Paillaugue, likely to be eventually replaced by Pollard, converted four of his team’s tries.
In Paris, Bordeaux and Racing ran in four tries each but Matthieu Jalibert’s greater accuracy with the boot proved crucial in a 34-30 win.
Fiji wing Semi Radradra grabbed two tries for Bordeaux while New Zealand-born French international flyer Virimi Vakatawa also scored twice.
Both men were, however, also yellow carded.
Victory was especially sweet for Bordeaux coach Cristophe Urios who had described Racing’s ultra-modern, multi-sport Paris La Defense Arena, which has an artificial surface, as a “community hall”.
“We prepared for the match with the intention of showing who we are,” said Urios.
“We had started the season well but there were always good excuses – the internationals, the World Cup.
“But there are no more excuses, everyone is on an equal footing. Both teams played a great rugby match. We were stronger physically. We played to win and today we showed that we knew how to play rugby.
“I dedicate this win to all those rugby incompetents who thought I didn’t know how to play rugby.”
Racing is now 16 points behind Bordeaux in the table, a status which left coach Laurent Travers giving up on a top-two finish.
“What we have to [do] is be in the top six [to make the play-offs],” said Travers.
“There are four places to play for and at the moment we are not there. So, yes, it’s frustrating and disappointing but we are not dead yet.”
Racing92 30 Bordeaux-Begles 34
La Rochelle 22 Castres 13
Clermont 30 Agen 13
Pau 9 Toulon 19
Montpellier 33 Lyon 8
Playing Sunday (kick-off is GMT)
Brive v Stade Francais (11.30)
Toulouse v Bayonne (15.50)