Moneybags Stade Francais stop rot
TOP 14 WRAP[: Stade Francais, the under-performing financial heavyweights of the French Top 14, won a second successive match for the first time this season.
A narrow 23-22 win at fellow strugglers Perpignan left forwards coach Laurent Sempere describing the knife-edge triumph as “mission accomplished”.
Stade, who is reported to be bankrolled to the tune of just under 40 million euros this season, were indebted to international flanker Sekou Macalou who scored two tries.
It was a timely performance by the back row forward with France due to announce their squad for the autumn Tests next week.
Stade will also be buoyed by not being made to pay too heavily for having Argentine forward Marcos Kremer yellow-carded for dangerous play.
“Mission accomplished,” said Sempere. “We came to get the points and we leave with four.
“But we also leave with work to do. We know that we are not there yet.”
La Rochelle, runners-up in the Top 14 and European Champions Cup last season, are also finding their feet after a poor start.
On Saturday, they squeezed past Brive 8-6 with winger Arthur Retiere scoring the only try of the game.
It was La Rochelle’s first away win of the season.
“It was a very tough game, against a good defence,” said La Rochelle centre Jonathan Danty.
“There is still work to be done, we are far from our best level. But we can say that our season is underway.”
Bordeaux-Begles stayed second with a 37-33 win at Pau.
Matthieu Jalibert scored two tries with Ulupano Seuteni and Romain Buros also on the scoresheet.
Jalibert booted 15 more points for good measure in a game where Bordeaux were comfortable at 28-9 at the interval before Pau gave them a second-half scare.
South African star winger Cheslin Kolbe was introduced to the Toulon crowd after his switch from Toulouse.
However, he then watched as the three-time European champions were beaten 27-20 by Racing 92.
Lock forward Brian Alainu’uese and Australian centre Duncan Paia’aua scored second-half tries for Toulon.
Back-row forwards Yoan Tanga and Ibrahim Diallo grabbed Racing’s two tries as Toulon were defeated at their Stade Mayol home for the first time since February.
Rock-bottom Biarritz was beaten 38-20 at Castres.
In three away games this season, Biarritz have conceded 130 points at an average of just over 43 per game.
Clermont edged Montpellier 22-20 with Camille Lopez kicking 17 points while South African World Cup winner Handre Pollard missed a late penalty which could have won the game for Montpellier.
Adding to Montpellier’s problems was news that international prop Mohamed Haouas, who missed the game with a muscle injury, is likely to sit out France’s autumn internationals against Argentina, Georgia and the All Blacks.
The 27-year-old has 12 caps and has been a regular feature for the national team ever since Fabien Galthie took charge as coach two years ago.