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Play off places decided in France & England

With one and two weeks to go, we now know the play-off qualifiers in both the English and French league. 

Romagnat attract an impressive crowd for their first game at the Stade Marcel-Michelin in Clermont (photo: V.Roche / http://vro-photographie.com/)

The only exception was leaders, Montpellier, who stormed to an impressive bonus-point win in what had appeared a tricky game at home to third-placed Toulouse.  An early penalty had put the visitors ahead, by a try from Morgane Peyronnet and then a collective effort from the pack put Montpellier firmly in charge at the midpoint in the first half. The pressure the pack were imposing lead to a yellow card for Toulouse’s international hooker, Wendy Divoux, which helped the champions to then extend their score by a further eight points, either side of the break. With Cyrielle Banet adding a brace of tries to end the game, Montpellier were able to extend their lead at the top of the table with a 30-6 win.

Rivals Lille had a rather tougher battle, this time in Toulouse, where they faced four-placed Blagnac. In the end they had to thank the Ménager twins, who each scored tries, but the team failed to come away with a bonus point, while Blagnac picked up an important losing point.

Blagnac even lead 7-5 until the final play of the half saw Romane Ménager’s try send Lille in with a 10-7 lead.  Marine Ménager matched her sister early in the second half, by Blagnac gradually eat into the Lille lead, and with 10 minutes to go Lille lead by only 15-10. However, a penalty from Chloe Rollie with eight minutes to go gave them breathing room, before Audrey Abadie’s penalty from Blagnac in the final minute ensured they did not end the game empty handed.

These results ended Rennes' outside chance of making the playoffs, despite their 28-23 win away at Romagnat, where the home team drew an impressive crowd for their first ever appearance at the Stade Marcel-Michelin in Clermont (home of men’s team Clermont-Ferrand). At least comparable to rounds of the Sevens World Series held in the same city, attendance was perhaps boosted by the display of the Six Nations trophy, although local hero Jessy Tremouliere – now with Rennes – was unavailable through injury. The home team – who near the foot of the table - lead 12-7 at halftime. Rennes had the better of most of the second half, and seemed to have the game sewn up a 28-20, before a penalty for Romagnat resulted in a tense final few minutes.

In the final game of the weekend, bottom-placed Bayonne gained revenge for their early season trashing at the hands of Bobigny with a tight 14-12 win, only their second win of the season.

 

TEAMS

P

W

D

L

F

A

BP

PTS

1

Montpellier

13

11

0

2

391

171

8

52

2

Lille

12

10

0

2

278

157

5

45

3

Blagnac

13

8

0

5

264

224

5

37

4

Toulouse

12

7

1

4

216

155

6

36

5

Rennes

12

5

0

7

245

240

5

25

6

Bayonne

12

3

0

9

167

310

4

16

7

Romagnat

12

2

1

9

149

330

3

13

8

Bobigny

12

2

0

10

169

292

4

12

Meanwhile across the channel the top two in the Tyrrells Premier 15s – Saracens and Harlequins - came together in what proved to be a real battle. Saracens started strongly, with a penalty try and a Bryony Cleall effort moving them into a 12-0 lead, but a Holly Myers' double and Davinia Catlin’s try shortly before the break, added to Ellie Green’s earlier penalty, turned the match on its head with Harlequins going into the interval 22-12 ahead.

That lead was stretched further through another Green penalty while Shaunagh Brown scored a try after strong work from the visitors. Saracens hit back through a superb effort from winger Emma Uren before the forwards turned up the heat and two late tries, including one for Poppy Cleall, left Harlequins grateful 32-29 winners at the final whistle.

Wasps produced a blistering second-half performance to retain third place, eventually overpowering Richmond 44-17 at Twyford Avenue after an even first half ended 10-10. Amy Atkinson scored early for the home side, only for Richmond to hit back through Rowena Burnfield and Gaelle Mignot before Vicki Jackson evened things up for Wasps. The first ten minutes of the second half proved decisive, with Atkinson crossing for her second before Louise Dodd stretched the lead further with the fourth home try. Wasps were in control, and they ran in a further four tries through Hannah West, Dodd, Amy Cokayne and finally Tova Derk to cement third spot in the table.

Gloucester-Hartpury won the crucial battle for fourth-place as they defeated Loughborough Lightning 36-8 to guarantee a play-off spot. Hannah Phillip kicked Loughborough into a 3-0 lead early on and on 30 minutes fly-half Natasha Jones powered over to make it 8-0. Ellie Underwood got the hosts back in it to make the score 8-5 to Loughborough at the break, then in the second half Gloucester-Hartpury got going with a try from Rachel Lund. Lund then got her second, Underwood completed her double and the icing on the cake came from Kelly Smith and a late penalty try to secure a vital win.

Elsewhere Firwood Waterloo enjoyed only their second win of the Tyrrells Premier 15s season with a comfortable 43-5 victory over Worcester at Sixways, and Bristol secured their fourth straight home win with a 36-19 bonus-point victory over DMP Sharks at Cleve RFC

 

P

W

D

L

F

A

TB

LB

Pts

Harlequins

18

15

0

3

674

289

14

2

76

Saracens

17

14

1

2

619

174

14

2

74

Wasps

17

12

0

5

500

254

13

3

64

Gloucester-Hartpury

18

11

1

6

572

380

14

0

60

Loughborough

18

10

1

7

383

368

9

2

53

Bristol

17

9

0

8

462

314

8

2

46

Richmond

18

7

1

10

264

435

5

1

31

Darlington Mowden Park

17

3

1

13

257

401

4

3

21

Firwood Waterloo

17

2

2

13

223

461

1

3

16

Worcester Valkyries

17

0

1

16

85

963

0

0

2