La Rochelle deliver Top 14 rout
TOP 14, SATURDAY WRAP: Hooker Pierre Bourgarit scored a hat-trick of first-half tries as La Rochelle crushed rock-bottom Agen 43-13 on Saturday to bolster their French Top 14 title hopes.
Agen may have had the consolation of scoring the game’s first and last tries but Bourgarit barrelled over in the 14th and 35th minutes as well as the dying moments of the first half.
La Rochelle had a bonus point wrapped up by the break because Wiaan Liebenberg also went over in the 21st minute from a five-metre scrum.
Flank and skipper Gregory Alldritt added two more scores after the break as La Rochelle cruised to a third away win of the season.
“We’re the leaders at the halfway stage,” said Alldritt.
“But we won’t care about being first in January if it means we are out of the top six [play-offs] at the end of the season.”
Toulouse stayed in touch in second place after a 71st-minute try gave them a narrow 16-9 win at Montpellier.
It was a fifth successive Top 14 win for Toulouse who waited until the last half hour to bring French international stars Antoine Dupont, Thomas Ramos and Julien Marchand off the bench.
Dupont was instrumental in setting up the decisive late try scored by No. 8 Antoine Miquel.
Toulon coach Patrice Collazo admitted there was “zero positive” from his team’s 31-18 defeat to Bordeaux.
The three-time European champions were out-scored three tries to two by a Bordeaux side who had a 20-6 stranglehold by the break.
The home team never looked back after going into a third-minute lead when lock forward Cameron Woki went over after good work from Kiwi winger Ben Lam.
Fly-half Matthieu Jalibert, likely to be a starter for France in the Six Nations, added a second try.
The 22-year-old finished with 21 points.
Romain Buros, again set-up by former New Zealand Sevens star Lam, added the third score early in the second period.
Isaia Toeava and Bryce Heem scored Toulon’s tries after the interval to restore a little respect.
“There is zero positive for me. We conceded 30 points,” said Collazo.
“Bordeaux wanted to win more than us. They played to win and we played to wait and see what was going to happen.
“But to win away, it is impossible against teams of the quality of Bordeaux.”