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Regular season ends in France

Its all down to the final four in the playoffs after a thrilling final weekend of the Top 8 regular season.

Romane Ménager and Lille showed their ambition away to Montpellier (17-17). PHOTO PASCAL BONNIERE

The final four games were decided by a total of just six points at the end of the final round in the regular season of the Top 8 - arguably the world’s most competitive women’s national league.

Eurosport cameras came to Montpellier for what has now become the classic battle of French domestic rugby –Montpellier v Lille – and they were not disappointed.

Both teams had comfortably qualified for the semi-finals – and in the top two places – some weeks ago, but the top table position was still at stake. Lille took an early lead, held for most of the first half thanks to an early try, but a score from Prune Pegot for Montpellier gave then a 12-10 lead at the break. Chole Rollie put the visitors ahead again in the 44th minute, a lead they extended to 17-12 thanks to Marine Ménager, and which they maintained until the last two minutes when Safi N’Diaye levelled the scores.

With the conversion missed, the game ended 17-17, resulting in Montpellier ending top of the league, although in matches between the two teams Lille have the had the advantage, after last weekend’s draw and their 7-3 mid-season win in Lille.

As a result, Lille will meet Toulouse in the semi-finals after “Stade” also tied, this time with away to Bobigny, an impressive performance from the Parisians who began the weekend with a real chance of ending the season bottom of the league. In fact, Bobigny lead twice before Toulouse came back to tie the match 12-12

Montpellier’s opponents will be the other team from Toulouse – Blagnac – who were also unconvincing when travelling away to the team who do end bottom, Romagnat. Blanac dominated the first quarter, racing to a 19-0 lead. But Romagnat fought back with tries from Mambé and Gincourt to close the gap, but even so Blagnac lead 22-14 at haltime. Romagnat battled back strongly in the second half, but could never close the gap, but nonetheless only went down by 29-32 against a top four team.

The final game was a “dead rubber”, but another exciting game that saw Rennes battle back from 24-7 down at halftime against Bayonne to tie the score at 24-24 before a Bayonne penalty with five minutes to go won the game for the home team.

TEAMS

P

W

D

L

F

A

TF

TA

AB

DB

PTS

Montpellier

14

11

1

2

408

188

65

28

7

1

54

Lille

14

11

1

2

317

189

49

23

3

2

51

Toulouse

14

8

2

4

247

167

37

24

4

3

43

Blagnac

14

9

0

5

296

253

39

37

2

3

41

Rennes

14

6

0

8

288

272

41

38

2

4

30

Bayonne

14

4

0

10

209

341

27

53

1

4

22

Bobigny

14

2

1

11

186

323

28

49

1

3

14

Romagnat

14

2

1

11

163

381

23

57

1

2

11