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Toulon extends lead in French T14 rugby

Afp
Sunday, January 27, 2013

PARIS - Toulon stretched their lead in French rugby's Top 14 to seven points on Friday with a 15-9 win over rock-bottom Mont de Marsan while second-placed Clermont slumped to a 26-19 loss at Perpignan.

Toulouse replaced Clermont in second place with a 19-14 win over Biarritz.

Both Toulon and Clermont will be playing in the European Cup quarter-finals in April, but both struggled to shrug off those celebrations and looked laboured ahead of a 10-day break for the domestic competition.

Mont de Marsan, with just one win all season, led 9-3 after just 18 minutes thanks to three penalties from Benat Arrayet.

But former All Black flanker Chris Masoe and winger Alexis Palisson grabbed first-half tries with Jonny Wilkinson kicking the other five points.

Mont de Marsan held their big-spending hosts pointless in the second half and earned a standing ovation at the final whistle after securing a losing bonus point.

"We will take two things out of this game -- the win despite a mediocre performance and the reaction of the fans who applauded both teams," said Toulon coach Bernard Laporte whose side had lost to Racing-Metro in their last Top 14 outing.

"We were a little flat and this part of the season is always very difficult to manage."

Perpignan recorded a third win in their past four Top 14 outings with a 26-19 win over Clermont.

The victory was also sweet revenge for the 53-31 defeat they suffered to their rivals earlier in the season.

Clermont led 12-6 at the interval thanks to four Morgan Parra penalties with Welsh fly-half James Hook replying with two of his own.

But a try from lock forward Romain Taofifenua early in the second period set Perpignan on their way to victory with Hook adding three more penalties before David Mele kicked a last-minute drop goal to increase the lead.