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Dublin: 9°C Saturday 15 May 2021

Toulon have a 21-year-old Fijian prodigy on the wing and he looks devastating

But even two tries from Josua Tuisova couldn’t prevent a Toulouse victory yesterday.

Image: Associated Press

TOP 14 LEADERS Toulon and Clermont, both preparing for European Cup quarter-final action next weekend, suffered defeats to Toulouse and Stade Francais on Saturday as the run-in to the French rugby season heats up.

The battle at the top of the table has become increasingly intense with just five games left before the playoffs involving the top six sides.

Toulon, sitting top but equal on 61 points with Clermont, missed the chance to pull ahead, falling 34-24 in front of a record 64,000 spectators at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille.

Stade Francais were the big winners, beating Clermont 40-26 in an entertaining, high-quality match in Paris that featured nine tries, including five for Gonzalo Quesada’s Parisians who are third, two points behind the leaders.

Stade, who now look set to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2009, hold a four-point lead over neighbours Racing-Metro, 12-6 winners on Friday at Bayonne.

Clermont play Northampton in the European Cup next weekend and their situation, like Toulon, who host Wasps, remains comfortable despite defeat.

But there can only be regrets for Toulon over how they let the game slip after holding an 18-point advantage on half an hour following two tries from Fijian winger Josua Tuisova, with scrum-half Frederic Michalak notching up 14 points on his return after seven months out following shoulder surgery.

Source: BowserX4/YouTube

Toulouse, despite the absence of captain Thierry Dusautoir, and key players including Yoann Maestri, Yoann Huget, and Toby Flood, took 17 unanswered points from the champions between the 38th and 47th minutes with four tries including a double from Maxime Medard.

 ’Kick up the backside’

“We had a good 30 minutes but conceded two stupid tries at the start of the second half,” lamented Toulon forwards coach Jacques Delmas.

“Sometimes a good kick up the backside is just what’s needed. Certain players let us down today but we’re going to pull together for what’s to come.”

The win was a boost for Toulouse, fifth on 53 points, four points ahead of Oyonnax, who move up to sixth after beating Brive 24-3.

Stade Francais, who had lost their last two home matches against Oyonnax and Grenoble, were quick out of the blocks at the Stade Jean-Bouin and opened the scoring after just four minutes.

Full back Djibril Camara started a superb counter-attack from within his own 22 metres and Fiji winger Waisea Nayacalevu was on hand to finish off the job with a try which Jules Plisson converted.

Stade were 27-7 up at half-time and looking good for the win, but Clermont struck early in the second half with two tries in the corner for Fiji winger Napolioni Nalaga to cut the gap to eight points.

The Auvergne side were pressing again minutes later only for Jonathan Danty to trigger a quick-fire counter-attack which saw Plisson kick over the remnants of the Clermont defence for winger Julien Arias to touch down for 35-19.

Six minutes from time, Stade effectively sealed the win with their fifth try by replacement hooker Laurent Sempere.

© AFP 2015

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