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Ratini sinks Toulon

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Monday, January 06, 2014

PARIS - An intercep try from Fiji winger Alipate Ratini two minutes from fulltime, converted by Julien Caminati, handed Grenoble a dramatic 22-21 victory over Toulon in French Top 14 rugby action on Saturday.

The last-gasp defeat even left Toulon's outspoken president, Mourad Boudjellal, wondering if coach Bernard Laporte would even be at training on Monday, such was the latter's disappointment at the result.

"We're prize idiots," Boudjellal blasted after his side's first home defeat in almost a year.

"We've got to get it into our heads that we're no longer European champions, nor of anything else. We're no longer talking about first or second place but to finish in the top six in the Top 14."

Boudjellal, well known for often-emotional outbursts, added: "I hope the players will be able to regroup. My main concern is whether Bernard will be at training on Monday.

"He's disappointed with many things in rugby: the refereeing which sometimes verges on amateurism and the sport which he no longer recognises since he returned to it.

"He's far away from his loved ones (his family live in Paris) and I can tell you that tonight he's had a gutsful."

The European champions looked to have sealed the win thanks to seven Jonny Wilkinson penalties that had given them a 21-15 lead at the 78th minute.

But Grenoble have proven themselves to be doughty fighters this season and they duly stuck to their task this time around to claim their first victory at Toulon since 1999.

When Wilkinson, the veteran Englishman who was a World Cup winner back in 2003, fired out a late pass on the left wing with an overlap abegging, Ratini read it perfectly, came out of the line and claimed the ball.

There was to be no catching the Fijian, Caminati stepping up to kick the decisive conversion from in front of the posts.

Laporte was left fuming as, in the build-up to the interception, referee Laurent Cardona had indicated that he was playing advantage for Toulon, though that did look to have run its course by the time Wilkinson flung out his pass.

Grenoble, who were surprise 28-26 winners over Toulon the first time the two sides met this season, had four Valentin Courrent penalties and a Fabien Gengenbacher drop-goal to their credit before the dramatic denouement.

Racing-Metro suffered another shock defeat in their topsy-turvy season, going down 6-0 to promoted Oyonnax in a match played in terrible conditions.

Having beaten Clermont 13-9 in the European Cup, Racing upset Toulon 14-3 at home in the league last weekend.

Yet that apart, it has been a poor season for the expensively-assembled Parisians and two penalties by Regis Lespinas was enough for Oyonnax to scrape a valuable win.

Rock-bottom Biarritz went down 18-6 to Stade Francais, while Perpignan bucked a five-match losing run with a 20-8 victory over Bayonne.

Castres closed to three points off leaders Clermont after an uninspiring 15-9 win over struggling Bordeaux-Begles on Friday.








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