2023 Aviron Bayonnais vs Castres Olympique

Five Talking Points From The Top 14

Five Talking Points From The Top 14

Amidst the fanfare for France’s hard-fought Six Nations win against Scotland, fans also were given another showcase of Top 14 rugby to savor this weekend.

Feb 28, 2023 by RugbyPass
Five Talking Points From The Top 14

Amidst the fanfare for France’s hard-fought Six Nations win against Scotland, fans also were given another showcase of Top 14 rugby to savor this weekend.

While little changed in the overall standings, there was plenty of drama across the board, as Toulouse and Stade Francais returned to their winning ways.

Meanwhile, at the bottom, all four teams lost, piling on the pressure, as the relegation battle continues to heat up.

Here are the five talking points from the latest round of the Top 14.

Jeremy Davidson Era At Castres Gets Off To A Rocky Start

After taking over coaching duties at Castres earlier in the week, Jeremy Davidson watched as his new side slumped to a disappointing 41-10 loss to in-form Bayonne.

The former Ireland lock was brought in to replace Pierre-Henry Broncan, who received his marching orders after Castres’ loss to La Rochelle in the previous round.

Davidson is well-versed in relegation struggles – it was only 19 weeks ago that he was sacked as head coach of struggling Brive – but he faces a more complex challenge at Castres.

Simply put, he is tasked with reviving a club that only last season was appearing in the final of the Top 14. Now they sit 11th in the league, dangerously close to the bottom and desperately requiring a quick turnaround.

Castres’ last league victory came against Pau in early December, and that winless drought has extended, after Bayonne clocked five tries at the Stade Jean Dauger.

Australian lock Tom Staniforth scored the sole try for the visitors, as they crumbled to a fifth loss in sixth games.  

Lyon Blasts Past Racing To Maintain Top 4 Charge

Lyon put in a stirring second-half display to charge to a convincing 45-11 victory over mid-table reveler, Racing.

Following a slow first 35 minutes, where the only points were penalties, Lyon took charge with a try from fullback Toby Arnold. The New Zealander carried brilliantly into contact and powered through the tackle to cross over the line and score.

Josua Tuisova extended Lyon’s advantage right before the break, selling a dummy, before ducking a tackle and rampaging over the line.

Racing did get a try back through prop Giorgi Kharaishvili, but a double from winger Davit Niniashvili soon squashed any hope of a comeback.

The first was an opportunistic dot down of a bobbling kick, while the second was worth the ticket admission alone, as the Georgian darted down the left flank, kicked into space and recovered possession to score, giving Lyon a valuable try bonus-point in the hunt for top 4.

La Rochelle And Toulouse Claim Comfortable Bonus-Point Wins

La Rochelle and Toulouse both lodged valuable wins in their continued hunt for title triumph.

Toulouse enhanced its stranglehold at the top of the table with a 34-10 home win against Pau, putting Ugo Mola’s men back on track, after they suffered a shock defeat at the hands of Toulon last weekend.

In the absence of Antoine Dupont, second string scrum half, Paul Graou, stepped up to the mark and marshalled the attack fluidly, converting all four of Toulouse’s tries.

The league leaders now have an eight-point cushion and are 11 points ahead of La Rochelle, who maintained their top-4 chase with a 32-16 win at home over Brive.

For almost 60 minutes, the contest was bitterly fought, with La Rochelle narrowly leading 11-9, but the floodgates opened when Joel Sclavi thundered over, followed quickly by Will Skelton, whose try all but secured the win.

Cordero Hat Trick Helps Bordeaux Bègles Dash Perpignan’s Winning Run

Bordeaux Bègles put in a ruthless display to obliterate Perpignan 43-7 and bring to an end the traveling side’s winning run.

Prior to kickoff, Perpignan was riding a three-game winning run, having beaten Stade Francais, Brive and Pau, but a sublime hat trick from Argentinian speedster Santiago Cordero helped sink the high-flying Blood and Golds.

As a result, they remain 12th, two points shy of Pau, while Bordeaux sit in sixth, three points away from La Rochelle in fourth.

Stade Francais Recovers From Early Deficit To Beat Montpellier

Stade Francais recovered after falling to an early 14-0 deficit, eventually toppling Montpellier at Stade Jean-Bouin. 

The Parisians started slowly and watched on, as tries from scrum-half Cobus Reinach and full-back Anthony Bouthier gave the hosts a comprehensive lead.

The turnaround began in the 30th minute when Argentine flanker Marcos Kremer charged over the whitewash to reduce the gap. Two penalties from Joris Segonds kept Stade Francais in the tie, before Jeremy Ward danced his way through tacklers to put the hosts in front for the first time.

From that vantage point, Stade Francais did not relinquish its advantage and cemented the win with a try from replacement prop Paul Alo-Emile.

The men in pink now have 11 wins and remain second in the league, though only three points separate them and fourth-placed La Rochelle.   

In the final game of the weekend, Clermont cut the gap to mid-table rival, Toulon, with a 36-21 win Sunday night.

Written by Stefan Frost