'Driving force': Kolbe helps Toulon to Brive romp
TOP 14 WRAP: Toulon head coach Franck Azema said Cheslin Kolbe is a “driving force” for the team after the South Africa wing made a try-scoring return from injury in Saturday’s 47-0 French Top 14 hammering of Brive.
Kolbe, who had been out since mid-July with a fractured jaw, scored after just 115 seconds as the three-time European champions moved up to second, six points behind league leaders Toulouse.
Brive’s Paul Abadie was shown a red card just after the interval for a dangerous tackle on 28-year-old Kolbe, which the winger survived unhurt despite landing on his head.
“When you’re a player of his calibre and you don’t make any concessions with your involvement, it’s a driving force for everyone,” Azema told reporters.
“It’s great to see, he didn’t see much ball, we have to give him more,” the Frenchman added.
Kolbe started on the right wing after missing the opening five games of the season.
Less than two minutes after kick-off on the Mediterranean coast, Rugby World Cup winner Kolbe beat two defenders with a subtle dummy to claim his first try since May.
Toulon led 21-0 at half-time as Fiji centre Waisea Nayacalevu and Duncan Paia’aua, named in Samoa’s November Tests squad this week, also scored.
Abadie was sent for an early shower six minutes after the break before the home side crossed for four second-half tries.
France captain Charles Ollivon, wing Aymeric Luc, Nayacalevu for a second time, and Italy No. 8 Sergio Parisse touched down.
Earlier, Kolbe’s compatriot Cobus Reinach scored in his first league game back from a shoulder operation but Montpellier lost 26-13 at Castres in a re-run of last season’s Top 14 final.
Reinach, 32, who suffered the injury in April but played once for the Springboks last month, crossed in the first half before being replaced with half an hour to play.
He was one of 12 changes by Montpellier head coach Philippe Saint-Andre after last weekend’s home loss to Toulouse.
NFL to Top 14
Former Buffalo Bills training squad member Christian Wade crossed on his Racing 92 debut as the Parisians overcame Pau 26-13.
Wade finished off after a delicate assist from Scotland flyhalf Finn Russell.
“I caught the eye of Finn, the magician, and he was able to put the nice flat kick in,” Wade told reporters
“As a winger that’s my job. To score tries when I get the opportunities,” he added.
Promoted Bayonne celebrated a third-straight sell-out at their Stade Jean-Dauger home by beating European Champions Cup holders La Rochelle 29-13.
The Basques joined Pau and Bordeaux-Begles in wearing pink socks in support of breast cancer awareness month in October as they remained unbeaten on their own turf this season.
Australia winger Sefa Naivalu claimed his third try in five league games as Stade Francais eased past Perpignan 52-3.
France full-back Thomas Ramos contributed 26 points as Kolbe’s former side Toulouse stretched their advantage at the top of the table with a 46-10 victory over Clermont.
On Sunday, Bordeaux-Begles head to Lyon, who have Tonga prop Feao Fotuaika making his maiden club start.
Castres 26-13 Montpellier
Stade Francais 52-3 Perpignan
Toulon 47-0 Brive
Racing 92 26-13 Pau
Bayonne 29-13 La Rochelle
Toulouse 46-10 Clermont