Springbok duo shine as Toulouse thump Agen
TOP14 WRAP: South African World Cup winner Cheslin Kolbe scored in his first game since mid-October as Toulouse hammered bottom side Agen 63-18 on Saturday in the French Top 14.
Kolbe, returning from a hip injury suffered six weeks ago, came off the bench just before the hour to lift the record 20-time champions to second with the bonus-point win at Stade Ernest Wallon.
“We didn’t fall in the trap. We made the match easy thanks to our intensity,” Toulouse head coach Ugo Mola said.
“It was a match with plenty of enthusiasm which is a good thing considering the sad moment of time we’re going through,” he added.
Before all the matches, played behind closed doors due the coronavirus pandemic, clubs paid their respects to former France wing Christophe Dominici who was found dead earlier this week aged just 48.
Kolbe was joined in the side by French internationals Thomas Ramos and Cyril Baille after the pair had featured in the maximum of three team sheets for Les Bleus this autumn but scrumhalf Antoine Dupont was rested.
Regis Sonnes took charge of the winless visitors for the first time and brought Samoa centre JJ Taulagi back after reportedly being suspended for a poor display in the 71-5 loss at Bordeaux-Begles which cost Sonnes’ predecessor, Christophe Laussucq, his job.
The hosts crossed on eight occasions including an effort from Kolbe’s Boks teammate Rynhardt Elstadt before the former Stormers three-quarter crossed in the final minutes.
Etzebeth on song
Elsewhere, 10-time Springbok Dillyn Leyds dotted down as La Rochelle remained top with a 36-22 victory over Brive.
Ex-All Blacks sevens winger Ben Lam crossed with three minutes to play and Maxime Lucu kicked the conversion as Bordeaux-Begles edged Montpellier 23-22.
Kolbe’s fellow World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth scored his second try in seven days as Toulon, one of Dominici’s former sides, beat Pau 18-33.
On Sunday, Racing 92 welcome back Test trio Virimi Vakatawa, Camille Chat and Bernard Le Roux as they host an under-strength Bayonne before Stade Francais, where Dominici won five league titles, head to Lyon.
On Friday, Japan’s Kotaro Matsushima took his try account to three for the season in Clermont’s 40-14 thumping at Castres.
Castres 14 Clermont 40
Toulon 18 Pau 13
La Rochelle 36 Brive 22
Montpellier 22 Bordeaux-Begles 23
Toulouse 63 Agen 18
Sunday’s Fixtures: (times GMT)
Racing 92 v Lyon (17.00)
Lyon v Stade Francais (20.05)