Mon 24 Dec 2018 | 04:57

Toulouse snatch late draw at Top 14 leaders Clermont

Toulouse snatch late draw at Top 14 leaders Clermont
Mon 24 Dec 2018 | 04:57
Toulouse snatch late draw at Top 14 leaders Clermont
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TOP 14 WRAP: Toulouse grabbed a dramatic 20-20 draw at Clermont on Sunday to stay only three points behind the leaders at the Top 14 summit, while reigning champions Castres suffered a second straight home defeat.

Franck Azema’s Clermont went into the game knowing their place at the top of the table could be under threat against a Toulouse outfit on a nine-match winning streak in all competitions.

Despite first-half tries from Apisai Naqalevu and Peter Betham, Toulouse’s late charge proved enough to end Clermont’s 100-percent record at the Stade Marcel-Michelin this season.

The home team got off to a quick start with Morgan Parra slotting over a second-minute penalty, with Toulouse flyhalf Thomas Ramos replying shortly afterwards.

But Fijian centre Naqalevu raced clear to score the game’s first try in the ninth minute, before Betham’s score and two Parra conversions gave Clermont a commanding 17-3 half-time lead.

Teenage back Mathis Lebel crossed to give Toulouse hope 15 minutes into the second period, with Ramos adding the extras, but Greig Laidlaw’s penalty put Clermont 10 points in front.

Romain Ntamack, who is also only 19 years old, kept Toulouse’s hopes of a 10th successive win alive, though, by touching down in the 69th minute, with Ramos’ conversion dragging them within three points of an unlikely draw.

And Toulouse kept the pressure on long after the 80 minutes were up, with Ramos eventually kicking an 83rd-minute penalty to secure a share of the spoils.

Earlier on Sunday, Bordeaux-Begles notched a third straight Top 14 win despite playing a man down for 50 minutes with a 32-13 thrashing of flailing champions Castres.

Bordeaux scrumhalf Baptiste Serin put in a ruthless man-of-the-match performance with two conversions and six penalties to lift his team to fifth, nine points behind Clermont.

Jean-Baptiste Dubie touched down for the visitors after seven minutes and French international prop Jefferson Poirot crossed 10 minutes after half-time.

Bordeaux are now well-placed for a tilt at the play-offs, with the final to be played at the Stade de France in June.

The away side eased to victory despite seeing Mahamadou Diaby sent off after 29 minutes for a dangerous tackle on Yannick Caballero.

Bordeaux’s position in the table marks a swift turnaround since former England World Cup-winner Joe Worsley was promoted to caretaker coach when Rory Teague was fired in mid-November.

But Castres coach Christophe Urios will take over Bordeaux next season.

“We have to be careful not to drown here,” said Urios. “We showed zero aggression. I just can’t understand it.”

“Maybe we’ll find a solution under the Christmas tree, a book, rugby for beginners,” he said.

Stade Francais returned to winning ways on Saturday with a 19-6 win at struggling Agen, to move up from eighth in the table into the top six, while Toulon secured their biggest win of the season by beating Lyon 40-7 at Stade Mayol.

Agence France-Presse

PV: 633


Toulouse Snatch Late Draw At Top 14 Leaders Clermont - France | Rugby365