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Late try returns beaten Racing to Top 14 summit

TOP 14 SATURDAY WRAP: Siya Kolisi’s Racing 92 claimed a late bonus point that sent them back to the summit of the French Top 14 despite Saturday’s 18-23 loss at Clermont.

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It gives Racing a further boost before starting their Champions Cup campaign against Harlequins next Sunday having rested the two-time World Cup-winning captain for the Clermont trip.

Donovan Taofifenua’s crossed in the 78th minute to bump Racing one point above Toulon, who beat Pau 36-16 earlier in the day to originally grab top spot.

Tonga centre George Moala and Argentina wing Bautista Delguy scored for the hosts in central France as Clermont secured their fourth win from nine games this season.

“We fought until the last minute to take something from this away game,” Racings’ Ibrahim Diallo told reporters.

“We’re frustrated of course with this defeat but the bonus point allows us to stay top and keep up our good energy.”

Racing trailed 6-17 at the break after Moala and Delguy’s efforts and former Pumas flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta’s points from the tee.

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But Fijian No.8 Kitione Kamikamica sparked Racing’s revolt with nine minutes to play before Taofifenua, who came through Clermont’s academy, dived over spectacularly in the corner in the dying moments.

Earlier, Toulon flyhalf Enzo Herve stepped in for the injured ex-Wales international Dan Biggar and scored 21 points including two tries in the Pau victory.

Herve claimed his double within 13 minutes in glorious sunshine on the Cote d’Azur before tries from prop Dany Priso, France wing Gabin Villiere and back-rower Paul Abadie’s 80th-minute effort.

Laporte struggles

Next up for Toulon is hosting Exeter Chiefs in the opening round of the Champions Cup on Saturday, having won the last of their continental titles in 2015.

Ronan O’Gara’s La Rochelle eased past lowly Perpignan 35-6 ahead of the defence of their Champions Cup title. They begin their quest for a third straight crown by hosting Irish province Leinster in a rerun of last season’s final.

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Bernard Laporte’s Montpellier remain bottom after the controversial former French rugby federation president and former France head coach lost his second game in charge as they were beaten 34-19 at Bayonne.

Laporte’s side have lost eight consecutive league games, their worst run since billionaire owner Mohed Altrad took over the club in 2011.

On Sunday, title holders and record 22-time champions Toulouse go to Paris to play Stade Francais, winners on 14 occasions, as the country’s two most successful sides meet at a packed Stade Jean-Bouin.

French Top 14 results on Saturday:
Toulon 36-13 Pau
Bayonne 34-19 Montpellier
Castres 29-14 Lyon
La Rochelle 35-6 Perpignan
Oyonnax 23-29 Bordeaux Bègles
Clermont Auvergne 23-18 Racing 92

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