Top 14 Round 1 Round-Up

Top 14 Round 1 Round-Up

Bayonne v Toulouse

FT = Bayonne 26-7 Toulouse
Bayonne gave their sold-out crowd something to celebrate after dispatching last seasons Premiers, Toulouse, at home. Despite the visitors being without all their Internationals, they got on the scoreboard first thanks to 23 rd minute converted try from Sofiane Guitoune. That was to be the first and last score for Stade Toulousain as the hosts hit back straight away with a 25 th minute try of their own (courtesy of Cassiem) after forward pack dominance. Veteran fly-half Camille Lopez slotted the extras and then showed there’s plenty of fire in the old legs yet, when he fired off a 42m drop-goal to give Bayonne a 10-7 lead at the half. The home side piled on more points in the second period thanks to a beautifully well-worked interlinked try between Tom Spring and Remy Baget, before Lopez added his second drop-goal of the day. In all, the 35-year-old finished the day with a 16-point tally and Bayonne with 4 points to start their 2023/2024 campaign.

Racing 92 v Bordeaux
FT = Racing 23-18 Bordeaux
Stuart Lancaster’s era at Racing got off to a winning start after his undermanned home side defeated Bordeaux 23-18. It took less than four minutes for the TMO to be called into action to check a potential illegal crocodile roll on UBB’s Prop, Poirot, by Racing’s Lock Boris Palu; where subsequently the referee issued a red card to Palu. Despite being a man down for 76 minutes of the match, it was young Nolann Le Garrec who kept Racing in the game, thanks to his two tries, and a handful of points off the kicking tee. UBB weren’t without their own ill-discipline, seeing both Kane Douglas (35 th minute) and Clement Maynadier (66 th minute) handed yellow cards of their own. The visitors did give a much better showing in the second period with sustained attacks and a beautiful run-in try by Nicolas Depoortere- courtesy of a lovely off-load from Paul Abadie- but all they could manage to take away from La Defense Arena, as a losing bonus point.

Lyon v Toulon
FT = Lyon 27-15 Toulon
In a game where the kick-off time was moved to a two hour later time slot due to heat, it was evident the ball was still very much hard to handle with knock-ons and handling errors galore. It took over 19 minutes before the scoreboard ticked over, with new Toulon recruit, Enzo Herve, successfully striking two quick successive penalty goals. The fly-half was to be RCT’s sole scorer to the day, accumulating the total 15 points for the visiting team. Meanwhile, Lyon had much more of an attacking game to show, scoring three tries along the way to their 27-15 victory. Speed winger Xavier Mignot dotted down twice while 28-year-old Jerome Rey added the icing on the cake with a 76 th minute 5 pointer of his own. The only mare to the Lyon side, was the injury to Jean-Marc Doussain who had to be stretchered off the field after a mistimed tackle from Welsh Lock, Alun-Wyn Jones. The former international was dubiously handed a yellow card for the borderline infringement, after making his Top 14 debut just three minutes earlier.

Castres v Pau
FT = Castres 24-23 Pau
What a gripping game between Castres and Pau! The home side were denied two tries throughout the contest, firstly Cocagi’s 5 pointer was refuted by the TMO after earlier foul play, whilst Winger Nathanael Hulleu was also refused a try. It was then thanks to the boot of CO’s Louis Le Brun and Pierre Poplin to keep the home sides scoreboard ticking over, with each player amassing 12 individual points. New Pau recruit Joe Simmonds chimed in with 11 points of his own, but the visitors managed to cross the white-wash on two occasions; firstly through Full-Back Jack Maddocks right after he re-entered the fray after conceding a yellow card, and then, in the last three minutes of the game, Section Pauloise were awarded a Penalty Try. That gave them a 21-23 lead, but all was not finished in this game, with Castres granted a shot at goal in the 79 th minute. Popelin dutifully stepped up to the tee, sliced it through the uprights, and CO delighted in the last-gasp, narrow victory.

Oyonnax v Clermont
FT = Oyonnax 36-17 Clermont
First game back in the Top 14 for Oyonnax, and they comfortably dispatched former heavy-weights, Clermont, taking a 36-17 victory in front of 9,256 people. The fans at Stade Charles-Mathon were treated to some fast, running rugby by the home outfit, particularly in the second half. It was Clermont that got on the board first after Jules Plisson kicked a penalty in just the second minute, before the scoreline started to seesaw. Stark crossed over for Oyonnax as they hit back immediately, before ASM’s Joris Jurand scored a somewhat opportunistic try thanks to Alex Newsome’s sublime aerial skills. New Clermont arrival, Rob Simmons, notched a 5 pointer of his own just before half time, taking advantage of the extra man. But at 17-17 at the break, the Wallabies score was to be the last for the visitors. The second period was all Oyonnox who added an additional four penalties (including a marvellously struck 55m Soulon kick), one try and 1 conversion.

Perpignan v Stade Francais
FT = Perpignan 7-29 Stade Francais
Stade Francais were the only side to come away from round 1 of the Top 14 with an away victory, after they made light work of Perpignan. Despite receiving three yellow cards- Dakuwaqa in the 17 th minute, Pesenti (19 th minute) and substitute Abramishvili (80 th minute)- Stade were still able to notch three times as many points as the home side. Regardless of having a 2-man advantage for over eight minutes of play, Perpignan’s only capitalisation was their 7-point Penalty Try. Conversely, Stade slid over the line twice through Hooker Ivaldi, and then Winger Dakuwaqa who made amends for his earlier yellow card indiscretion. Fly-half Joris Segonds added 17 points with the boot whilst his replacement, Barre kicked over the final conversion of the game to give the visitors a fantastic first away win for the 2023/2024 season.

Montpellier v La Rochelle
FT = Montpellier 26-15 La Rochelle
Montpellier were a little too strong for a La Rochelle outfit that was minus so many of their international players who are away on Rugby World Cup duty. The first half of this round 1 Top 14 clash was very much a mirrored image for each side; both had a played yellow carded (Remi Picquette for MHR, and George Bridge for La Rochelle), both sides scored a converted try and a penalty apiece, giving a half time scoreline 10-10. La Rochell’s Nathan Bollengier, who was making his Senior debut, was the only scorer for the Maritimes side in the second 40 minutes thanks to a counterattack. Whilst MHR ploughed ahead with 16 points; a try from Vano Karkadze, 8 points from the kicking tee for Carbonel and three points from the boot courtesy of Leo Coly too.

Credit: Larissa Falls

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