Clermont wing way back to top


Wingers David Strettle and Noa Nakaitaci each scored outstanding tries on Saturday to help Clermont to a 29-19 victory over Castres that saw them regain temporary lead of the Top 14.

Clermont have amassed 23 points from their seven matches to sit two points ahead of La Rochelle, who play Stade Francais on Sunday.

Strettle, in outstanding form alongside Fiji-born France flyer Nakaitaci and another England discard in full-back Nick Abendanon, swallow dived into the corner to dot down one-handed for a memorable try to round off great team pressure.

A tight contest was decided by a brace of converted tries shortly after the break.

Flanker Judicael Cancoriet first crossed for Clermont, before a loose clearance kick was played in-field to Nakaitaci.

The Fijian, capped eight times for France, proceeded to skin a raft of defenders with a mazy run to the line.

Castres’ sole try came from a quick penalty taken by fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta in the first-half, but Christophe Urios’s team ran out of steam, not helped by a yellow card for Julien Caminati.

“It’s a good win against a Castres side which came with the idea of upsetting our plans,” said Clermont hooker Benjamin Kayser.

Nakaitaci added: “We had problems in the first-half and struggled to get the ball away from rucks.

“We remedied some details after the break and we built up our points.

“Victory came but there’s a measure of disappointment at not having managed to snag the attacking bonus point (for four tries).”

Elsewhere, Toulouse notched up a four-try 31-3 thrashing of rock-bottom Grenoble.

Tries by bullocking No.8 Gillian Galan and Maxime Medard in the first-half were followed by two more from Talalelei Gray and Florian Fritz in the second period to seal the convincing victory.

Toulouse, who handed a first start of the season to Fijian sevens star Semi Kunatani — a gold medallist at the Rio Olympics — jumped up to fourth in the standings, with Montpellier, who travel to Toulon on Sunday, in third.

Bordeaux-Begles had veteran playmaker Lionel Beauxis to thank for a 77th minute conversion of a Romain Lonca try that handed his side a nail-biting 30-28 victory over Pau.

Former All Black Tom Taylor kicked 23 points for Pau, who led 17-12 at the break, but Bordeaux’s Ireland fly-half Ian Madigan responded with five of his own before Beauxis took over the kicking duties.

Bayonne, sitting one place ahead of Grenoble, snatched a 22-22 draw with fellow newly-promoted side Lyon.

Raphael Lagarde booted a penalty two minutes from time after France veteran Frederic Michalak had put Lyon ahead.

French champions Racing 92 will look to arrest an alarming run of away defeats when they travel to Brive later on Saturday.

© 2016 AFP

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