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Stade Toulouse remain leaders despite losing in Biarritz

Latest update : 2009-01-31

Despite losing against Biarritz, Stade Toulouse remain leaders of France's Top 14. Stade Francais missed a chance to topple Toulouse's leadership as Dan Carter's Perpignan draw in Paris. Meanwhile, Clermont crushed Bayonne, 44-10.

AFP - A last-gasp penalty from New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter secured a 13-13 draw for Perpignan against Stade Francais here on Saturday that prevented the Parisians from overtaking Toulouse at the Top 14 summit.

Earlier in the day, Toulouse had slumped to their third loss of the season at ninth-placed Biarritz.

Stade Francais led 7-0 at half-time in front of almost 80,000 spectators at a packed Stade de France thanks to a 28th-minute Lionel Beauxis try that the French full-back converted.

A pair of penalties from Juan Martin Hernandez extended Stade's lead to 13-3 shortly before the hour mark, after Carter had sent over a 52nd-minute penalty.

But Maxime Mermoz sparked the Perpignan fightback when he crashed over for a 72nd-minute try which Carter converted.

The Kiwi poster boy then sank a 79th-minute penalty to ensure his side travelled back south with a hard-earned share of the spoils.

The result keeps Toulouse top, two points clear of Stade Francais, despite their surprise 17-13 defeat at a resurgent Biarritz, with Perpignan four points off top spot in third.

Carter, who was returning to the side after three weeks out with an Achilles tendon injury, finished the match nursing a problem with his ankle.

"Dan twisted his ankle and he also has some pain in his heel. He'll now undergo medical tests," said coach Jacques Brunel.

Toulouse and Biarritz exchanged early tries at the latter's Aguilera ground, with Julien Peyrelongue's unconverted fifth-minute try for the hosts cancelled out by a Maxime Medard score in the ninth minute that was converted by French international fly-half David Skrela.

The league leaders were 13-8 in front at the break thanks to a drop-goal from wing Cedric Heymans and another Skrela penalty, but three unanswered second-half penalties by Biarritz number nine Dimitri Yachvili snatched a fine victory for the Basque side.

All Blacks great Byron Kelleher added to Toulouse's problems when it was revealed he had suffered a serious knee sprain.

The 32-year-old scrum-half came off the pitch in the 68th minute after his left leg buckled under a heavy tackle.

In the day's other games, fourth-placed Clermont thrashed fifth-placed Bayonne 44-10 to open up a 10-point gap over their opponents, while second-bottom Castres were held to a 11-11 draw at home to Brive.

Elsewhere, Montpellier beat Dax 23-14 and Bourgoin overcame Montauban 25-15 thanks to a 20-point haul from kicker Benjamin Boyet.

On Friday, Toulon secured their first league win since November against fellow relegation candidates Mont-de-Marsan.

Toulon's New Zealand import Sonny Bill Williams played a starring role in a five-try, 38-22 victory although coach Tana Umaga had to shelve his playing return after failing to win the necessary administrative clearance.
 

Date created : 2009-01-31

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