2024 Oyonnax Rugby vs Perpignan

Top Tries From Top 14 Round 19: Scintillating Scores From France

Top Tries From Top 14 Round 19: Scintillating Scores From France

The top flight in French rugby rarely disappoints, and some of the stars of the Top 14 put on a show with sensational scores this past weekend.

Mar 27, 2024 by Briar Napier
Top Tries From Top 14 Round 19: Scintillating Scores From France

There are many reasons why the Top 14 is often considered one of (if not the) best club rugby competition in the world, but quality of play is one of the top ones.

And boy, did quality ever shine this week.

In a thrilling round that saw five of a possible seven matches decided by three points or less, some of the tries scored throughout the action were simply world-class, with some of the best players in the world doing things on a rugby pitch few others on Earth can do.

The play has reached an elite point, and with less than a third of the Top 14’s regular-season slate remaining, the skill shown from so many clubs and players on a weekly basis doesn’t seem to be slowing down anytime soon

Here’s a look at five of the best tries scored in Round 19 of the Top 14 this past weekend:

Perpignan Vs. Oyonnax (Crossdale, 53’)

The try that ended up winning Perpignan its match against Oyonnax — which badly needed a victory, as escape from relegation becomes less and less likely — also happened to be one of the best ones of the weekend. 

Down 14-8 at halftime, Perpignan needed a spark, and got it through wing Ali Crossdale, with the Englishman turning a promising attack into something spectacular to get his team in front. 

With Les Sang et Or sending numbers forward and getting just past the Oyonnax 10-meter line, Crossdale took a pass near the left touchline from teammate Mathieu Acebes and surged through the opposing defensive line with at least three Oyonnax players missing him in the initial burst. 

Crossdale’s magnificent solo run continued once he got into some space, with him cutting inside to maneuver around Oyonnax’s last line of reinforcements and outrunning a last-ditch defender behind him to romp over for a fantastic try — an important one for Perpignan as it sits just two points above the relegation playoff place of 13th.


Racing 92 Vs. Castres (Wade, 31’)

As the Gloucester-bound Christian Wade returns to England later this year as the direct replacement for the NFL-bound Louis Rees-Zammit, it only makes sense that Wade (who briefly tried American football himself as a running back, before eventually returning to rugby) put a bow on one of the best tries of the weekend in the Top 14 with a move that looked straight out of the NFL. 

A good run of play from Racing with the score level at 6-6 late in the first half, saw the ball eventually get its way to the former Buffalo Bills practice squad member near the touchline, and he immediately darted forward and exposed a sizable gap in Castres’ defensive line. 

A defender was standing in Wade’s way, however, but that didn’t stop the ex-England international from finding the try line; a gnarly sidestep to the left sent the Castres defender to the ground, seemingly juked out of his boots, and Wade utilized his pace to do the rest as his score kicked off a 14-point surge for Racing before the halftime whistle. 


Racing 92 Vs. Castres (Naituvi, 35’)

About that 14-point surge from Racing - the follow-up score after Wade’s epic run was pretty good and worthy of recognition in its own right, too. 

The journey to the suburban Parisian club second try of the first half was a much longer one, which started near Racing’s own try line, as it started to build an attack from a scrum deep in its own half. That seemingly ended when a kick forward at its own 22 landed safely in the hands of Castres’ Pierre Popelin. 

However, Max Spring didn’t give up on the play, and Popelin paid for it, as a pass intended for Nathanael Hulleu was intercepted by Spring, who dinked it forward along the pitch and got into a footrace with Castres’ defense. 

He managed to narrowly tap the ball forward once again and serve it on a platter for Wame Naituvi in support, who took it and pressed down for the five points to close a critical stretch for Racing in its nail-biting 23-21 victory over Castres.


Bordeaux-Bègles Vs. Toulouse (Penaud, 24’)

Surprise, surprise, it’s another moment of brilliance on a rugby pitch involving Damian Penaud, but the Bordeaux superstar also needs to give a bit of kudos to teammate Maxime Lucu for making his wicked try in a crucial showdown with Toulouse this weekend even possible in the first place. 

With Les Girondins already out to a rapid 10-0 start in the first half of their clash with the reigning and defending Top 14 champions this past weekend, Lucu took possession near the touchline and went sideways in his movement, seemingly never losing sight of a lurking Penaud signaling for the ball on the opposite touchline. 

Lucu booted the ball forward toward the winger in open space, but Penaud still had a lot to do, being several meters behind a Toulouse defender from the moment the ball was kicked. Didn’t matter. 

Penaud raced forward with blistering pace and got to the loose ball first near the Toulouse 22, kicking it just far enough along the ground to give him a little more breathing room against Toulouse’s Matthis Lebel in defense. 

It was all Penaud needed to scoop it up near the try line and finish the job, helping give Bordeaux a 17-0 lead (and eventual win) in the process.


Toulon Vs. Montpellier (Paia’aua, 75’)

Toulon ran riot over Montpellier, ripping apart the relegation-threatened Les Cistes for an eight-try display, none of which looked better than Samoa international Duncan Paia’aua’s score with the match result already more than decided just a few minutes from full-time.

It was a try that had it all for Toulon, from starting from a lineout to multiple skillful offloads and bruising runs; it ended when Paia’aua took a pass from lock and club and international teammate Brian Alainu’uese, executed a handoff on a Montpellier defender and left a cloud of dust, as he was untouched the rest of his way to the try line. 

The try was Paia’aua’s second of the match as Toulon emphatically ended Montpellier’s four-match winning streak entering the round and simultaneously helped their own standing in a push for the playoffs. 


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