Toulon hold on for victory despite late Racing comeback
TOP 14 WRAP: Flyhalf Anthony Belleau scored 22 points as Toulon claimed their second victory of the Top 14 season on Sunday by staving off a late Racing 92 comeback to win 32-29.
Toulon, who failed to reach the playoffs last term for the first time since 2010-11, bounced back from successive defeats despite almost letting a 17-point lead slip in the final 11 minutes.
“I had a fright at the end,” said Toulon manager Patrice Collazo. “Today the team had such a collective and individual will to do well that we fought for 80 minutes.”
Julien Heriteau and Daniel Ikpefan’s first-half tries helped Toulon take a 23-10 advantage at the interval despite Argentinian winger Juan Imhoff touching down for Racing.
Louis Dupichot scored Racing’s second try in the 53rd minute, but Belleau took his tally for the day to six penalties and two conversions as Toulon maintained total control.
Racing No. 8 Yoan Tanga Mangene kept the visitors’ hopes alive, though, scoring two tries in six minutes, with Teddy Iribaren converting both, to make it 32-29 with five minutes still remaining.
But Toulon held on to climb into the top six, while Racing were forced to settle for a losing bonus point despite outscoring their opponents by four tries to two.
“We can have regrets. If you only play 30 minutes out of 80, it’s hard to win a game away,” said Racing coach Laurent Travers.
“When we look at our first 40 minutes, we were absent from the fight, didn’t show intensity, were absent from everything.”
Agen thump Montpellier
Earlier on Sunday, lowly Agen reached above themselves to thump Montpellier 29-10 and climb to midtable largely thanks to fly-half Raphael Lagarde.
Having returned this season to Agen, Lagarde scored a try, a conversion and four penalties against one of his former clubs.
Montpellier scored a try on 25 minutes through Yvan Reilhac but Agen overran them for much of the match.
Montpellier coach Xavier Garbajosa said his side only had themselves to blame.
“The best team won,” he said. “There are no excuses. We could have played all night and we wouldn’t have found a way past them.”
His Agen counterpart Christophe Laussucq said his side had finally shown their true colours after a poor start to the season.
“I hope now my boys will realise what they are capable of. We came very close to a surprise at Pau. Here I was impressed with the spirit we showed and that saw us score another try at the end.”
That try was scored by Fijian speedster Benito Masilevu.
On Saturday, front-runners Lyon and Bordeaux-Begles made it four wins from four while champions Toulouse slipped to their third defeat in four matches.
Toulouse, significantly weakened by World Cup call-ups, were playing their third match on the road having already lost 30-25 to Bordeaux in the opening round and 22-12 at Lyon.
La Rochelle 28 Toulouse 13
Bayonne 27 Castres 17
Clermont 28 Pau 37
Lyon 59 Brive 3
Agen 29 Montpellier 10
Toulon 32 Racing92 29