Botica boots Bordeaux-Begles past Castres
TOP 14 SUNDAY WRAP: Two Ben Botica penalties helped French Top 14 leaders Bordeaux-Begles to a 26-24 victory over Castres, for whom Rory Kockott missed a late conversion that would have tied an entertaining match.
New Zealander Botica stepped up in the 61st and 67th minutes to nail the vital kicks in a game that saw Castres outscore Bordeaux-Begles by four tries to two and depart with a losing bonus point.
“Castres made us suffer. The guys were strong not to crack and not to lose the game,” Bordeaux-Begles coach Christophe Urios said.
“We’ve grown up. I’m happy we won. I’m also relieved,” he added.
Blair Connor and Mahamadou Diaby crossed for the home team in the first-half to cancel out Castres tries from Julien Caminati and former Uruguay lock Rodrigo Capo Ortega.
Fiji’s Filipo Nakosi and Anthony Jelonch added further tries for Castres in the second period, but the hosts remained in pole thanks to the boots of Maxime Lucu and Botica.
The victory meant that Bordeaux-Begles will now have to act on their promise to hand out vouchers for free McDonald’s burgers for the 17 172 spectators at the Stade Chaban-Delmas.
Urios’ men move eight points clear of Lyon at the top of the table as the competition begins a three-week break due to the Six Nations.
Former Parisian Parisse
Later, former Italy captain Sergio Parisse played the whole game as his Toulon side beat his former club Stade Francais, where he played more than 200 games in 14 seasons, 19-18 at Stade Mayol.
The hosts led 9-6 after an hour as Anthony Belleau kicked three penalties and Arthur Coville and Nicolas Sanchez slotted one each for the outfit at the bottom of the table.
Lock Swann Rebbadj scored the first try of his senior career to stretch the home side’s lead to 16-6 after 62 minutes.
The visitors’ attempted comeback began within the final 10 minutes as France Six Nations squad member and wing Lester Etien went in under the posts and Sanchez’s conversion made it 16-13.
Five minutes later Kylan Hamdaoui, who has also been part of les Bleus squad for the tournament, dived over in the corner to give his side a two-point lead but Sanchez missed the conversion.
The side from the capital city were denied a first victory in five years at Mayol as France’s third-choice flyhalf Louis Carbonel kicked a 40 metre penalty more than two minutes into added time.
“These matches are won by character,” Toulon coach Patrice Collazo said.
“I have never had any doubt about the quality of Louis’ kicking. When he put the ball down, he was so measured, I knew it would go over,” he added.
In Saturday’s matches, Finn Russell gave another example of what Scotland are missing as he helped guide Racing 92 to a 49-0 thrashing of La Rochelle.
The Atlantic coast club’s director of rugby Jono Gibbes dubbed the result a “disgrace”.
Defending champions Toulouse slumped to a 10-20 defeat at Bayonne while title hopefuls Lyon were also beaten, 6-30 at Brive.
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