Guitoune guides Toulouse to top of table
TOP 14, SUNDAY WRAP: France international Sofiane Guitoune scored twice as Toulouse moved to the summit of the French Top 14 on Sunday with a 29-16 win over struggling Grenoble.
Despite his impressive form this season, Guitoune, is not among the Toulouse players selected by Jacques Brunel for France’s Six Nations squad.
The hosts took top spot for the first time this term after season-long leaders Clermont lost at Castres on Saturday.
Grenoble’s points came from the boot of flyhalf Mathieu Ugalde and a try by hooker Mike Tadjer and they remain in 12th, four points above the relegation playoff place.
Ugalde opened the scoring for Grenoble with the first of his three penalties after a turgid opening 20 minutes on a muddy surface at Stade Ernest-Wallon.
Guitoune, 29, whose last Test match came during the 2015 Rugby World Cup dotted down six minutes later, making the most of a distracted defence by taking a quick tap from 10 metres out and diving over.
Ugalde added Grenoble’s second penalty after half an hour before Toulouse pressure delivered another touchdown as a powerful scrum was followed by a deft off-load from influential Guitoune to play in teenager Matthis Lebel in the corner.
The visitors’ flyhalf slotted his final three-pointer of the game shortly after the break but Toulouse dominated the rest of the fixture.
Guitoune kept his best until the hour-mark, profiting from another quick tap penalty, this time by scrumhalf Sebastien Bezy, to secure his eighth touchdown of the season.
Hooker Clement Castets, 22, clinched the bonus point with a quarter of an hour remaining.
Tadjer scored a consolation effort seconds before the full-time whistle.
Guitoune praised the performances of the younger members of the squad who stepped up with seven players away on French duty.
“For sure it’s our strength, we have a good group, it’s not massive but we have good youngsters. It’s been the strength of Toulouse during the past years to produce good youngsters,” he said.
“When you see Matthis Lebel and Arthur Bonneval it bodes well for the future,” he added.
In the final game of the weekend, Fijian winger Filipo Nakosi also scored twice to help Toulon to only their sixth league win of the season overcoming Stade Francais 33-30 before a two week break due to the opening rounds of the Six Nations.
South African Handre Stassen had grabbed a double of his own for the Parisians before a late Jules Plisson drop-goal looked to have sealed it for the visitors.
But youngster Louis Carbonnel and then Nakosi dotted down within the last two minutes of play to distance Toulon further away from the bottom two.