La Rochelle survive red card to down Toulouse

Paris (AFP) –


La Rochelle took their impressive European form into the Top 14 on Sunday, maintaining their undefeated home record with a 37-21 win over Toulouse despite being reduced to 14 men.

The unheralded French club, who have opened their debut European Champions Cup campaign with two successive wins, ran in four tries against Toulouse to move in to third place in the table, six points behind Lyon.

They were unfortunate to miss out on a bonus point when Kini Murimurivalu had a try ruled out but still grabbed four tries from hooker Hikairo Forbes, fly-half Jeremy Sinzelle, scrum-half Alexis Bales and prop Mohamed Boughanmi.

The only blip for La Rochelle was seeing replacement lock forward William Demotte being red card for a high tackle just four minutes after coming on to the pitch.

Toulouse were unable to capitalise on their one-man advantage with fly-half Sebastien Bezy crossing in the 65the minute for his team's second try of the afternoon.

In Sunday's other game, Castres swamped Agen 43-28 on the back of six tries.

Toulon enjoyed a six-try 41-24 win over Brive on Saturday in a bizarre clash which saw their rock-bottom visitors struggle through part of the match with four players in the sin bin.

Three-time European champions Toulon are now fourth courtesy of tries from Anthony Belleau, Hugo Bonneval, a double from English winger Chris Ashton, Raphael Lakafia and a penalty score awarded in the last moments of the first half.

Three of the tries came when Brive's Fabien Sanconnie, Said Hireche (both for repeated infringements) and Gaetan Germain (deliberate knock-on) were all yellow-carded.

With prop Karlen Asieshvili also in the sin-bin, Brive were down to 11 men at one stage.

In another twist, Asieshvili and Germain then redeemed themselves to a certain degree in the late stages of the game by scoring two of Brive's three tries. Samuel Marques added the other score for weary Brive.

"We showed a lot of heart," said Brive coach Didier Casadei. "Sadly, we were indisciplined and were severely punished by the referee.

"We spent 40 minutes inside our own 30 metres when you saw a courageous Brive. We had more ball in the second half, scored three tries and ended the match with an honourable scoreline."

Lyon stayed top after running in seven tries and collecting a bonus point in a 52-18 demolition of Oyonnax.

Montpellier are second, four points back, after a 22-16 win at Pau with tries from Nemani Nadolo, Joe Tomane and France No8 Louis Picamoles.

Racing overturned a 7-8 deficit to beat Bordeaux 29-13 in a game which featured three red cards.

Two of them came for Racing's Virimi Vakatawa and Manuel Carizza while Sebastian Taofifenua also saw red for squaring up to Carizza.

Winger Vakatawa, who received his red card for a dangerous tackle on Jean-Baptiste Dubie, could now be suspended for France's opening autumn Test against New Zealand on November 11.

Defending champions Clermont piled on the problems for Stade Francais with a 33-10 win.