Vaipulu's late try keeps Montpellier in Top 14 relegation zone

Paris (AFP) –


Tonga's Ma'amai Vaipulu scored late in Castres' 21-19 Top 14 win on Sunday to inflict a seventh-straight defeat on relegation threatened Montpellier at the GGL Stadium.

Substitute back-rower Vaipalu crossed with eight minutes to play to leave the hosts, who replaced sacked Xavier Garbajosa with former France head coach Philippe Saint-Andre earlier this month, in the relegation play-off spot and without a victory since December 4.

Saint-Andre made four changes from last weekend's loss at Brive but former England U20s winger Gabriel Ibitoye was forced to wait for his debut after joining from bottom of the table Agen midweek.

Fijian winger Filipo Nakosi was replaced by Bastien Guillemin in the Pierre-Henry Broncan's lineup after being banned for a dangerous tackle in last Saturday's win over Agen.

The hosts led 16-11 at the break as Henry Immelman scored a try and Anthony Bouthier added the conversion and three penalties.

Julien Dumora dotted down for the visitors as Benjamin Urdapellita kicked two penalties.

Bouthier, who was named in France's Six Nations squad earlier this week and Urdapilleta traded further penalties in the second half before back-rower Vaipulu claimed the crucial score.

Les Bleus back-rower Anthony Jelonch charged forward and off-loaded for Vaipulu to crash over from short range with eight minutes left.

Saint-Andre's men are now two points behind Bayonne in 12th place as Castres move up to ninth.

Later, Toulon travel to Racing 92 and have South Africa's Rugby World Cup winner Eben Etzebeth returning from concussion after being sidelined since mid-December.

On Saturday, Jean-Pascal Barraque's first penalty goal in more than four years took Clermont to fourth in the Top 14 with a 16-16 draw at Bordeaux-Begles.

Elsewhere, Australia full-back Jesse Mogg made his first appearance since April 2019 after recovering from a tibia injury in Pau's 23-22 win at Bayonne.