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Stade Français still in the running, Castres slip up

Stade Français (pictured) revived their faltering campaign for a place in the knock-out stages of the Top 14 with a 25-15 victory over Biarritz on Saturday, while Top 14 leaders Castres stumbled to a 15-0 defeat at Montpellier.


AFP - France international fly-half Lionel Beauxis kicked 20 points as Stade Francais got a welcome 25-15 victory over another out-of-form French rugby giant Biarritz at the Stade de France on Saturday.

Beauxis was in imperious form as he converted the only try of the match by centre Mathieu Bastareaud while Biarritz's former French international Dimitri Yachvili kicked 12 of his side's points in what was a scrappy encounter.

Leaders Castres golden run came to an abrupt halt as they lost 15-0 away at improving Montpellier, who gained the scalp of Stade Francais 10 days ago.

Castres - who have enjoyed a revival this season after narrowly avoiding relegation last term - still lead the table though should Clermont beat Toulouse on Sunday they could slip to second as the former trail them by just four points.

On Friday reigning champions Perpignan had returned to winning ways after a poor run with a 31-12 win over Racing Metro.

The Catalan side bounced back from their recent European Cup exit as they handed Racing-Metro a second straight loss, the club having last weekend seen a nine-match winning streak ended by Bourgoin.

"Given the tough conditions we didn't expect to land five tries - we just wanted the win," said Perpignan coach Jacques Brunel.

Stade Francais stormed out of the blocks and took the lead in the first minute.

Bastareaud refused to be denied when he took the ball 20 metres out and despite being brought to ground by three Biarritz defenders he climbed to his feet and burrowed his way over the line through another three Biarritz players.

Beauxis converted to make it 7-0.

Biarritz reduced the deficit to 7-3 in the 10th minute as Yachvili converted a penalty and whilst Bastareaud produced a trysaving tackle Stade still conceded a penalty in the ensuing move which saw No 8 Juan Leguizamon yellow carded.

Yachvili - who earlier this season was linked with a move to Stade - landed the penalty to pull to within a point of the hosts but Beauxis made it 10-6 shortly afterwards with a penalty and then added another in the 27th minute.

Beauxis stretched the lead to 10 points when another Biarritz infringement handed him an easy penalty which he gratefully accepted to make it 16-6.

The impeccable Beauxis added another penalty shortly after the break while Yachvili failed with an attempt soon afterwards but made no mistake after an infringement by prop Rodrigo Roncero.

Yachvili further reduced the deficit with another penalty, to make it 19-12, in the 53rd minute as Stade's indiscipline threatened to throw victory away but Beauxis added two more penalties while the visitors fly-half Julien Peyrelongue dropped a goal.

"It has been a bit hot and a bit tense this week," admitted Bastareaud.

"We have to continue to pull together and work hard to get sixth place," he added referring to making the top six which at least gets them into the play-offs for the championship semi-finals.

In other matches Toulon rebounded from their 39-3 humbling last weekend by Clermont to beat Montauban 18-7, scoring two tries and with England star Jonny Wilkinson scoring eight points with the boot.

Brive's good run continued and took them further from the relegation zone as they followed up last Sunday's victory over Perpignan with a 17-15 victory - England international back Jamie Noon scoring the second of the visitors tries - away at Albi, who look almost certainly doomed to be relegated.

However, Albi's joint coach Daniel Blach said that their thoughts were not on going down.

"We were really good apart from in the scrum and that is where the two tries stemmed from and the penalty," said Blach.

"We should have won this match by a whisker but instead we lost by a whisker. We are not even thinking of the Second Division at the moment."

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