After four weeks of the new French Top 16 only four teams still have 100% records, two in each pool. It was a remarkable weekend with every game being won by the away team.
Lons v Blagnac. Photo: Lons
The big game of the weekend was Montpellier’s visit to Pool A leaders Romagnat. A year ago this would have been a straightforward win for the champions again, but after the home team’s great start to the season Montpellier knew they this year it would be more difficult.
The visitors had much the best of the first half, tries from Safi N’Diaye, Fantine Baccichet and a joint effort from the pack gave them a 15-5 lead.
But a yellow card against Jennifer Troncy early in the second half allowed Romagnat to close within three points and it was not until they were back to fifteen that Montpellier were able to take command again, adding two more tries (again from the pack, as well as Andrea Marcial) before the end.
Blagnac also remain unbeaten in Pool A with a six-try 34-0 win away to Lons, and now lie just one bonus point behind Montpellier.
Stade Francais – who started the season with the most impressive squad for the promoted teams – recorded a third win from four, also away, in this case to Villelonguet, but given that the home team had shipped over 150 points in three games before the match, the 17-10 win was far closer than expected – and also gave Villelonguet a losing bonus that pulls them off the bottom of the pool.
Bottom place is now taken by Rouen, who also lost at home, in this case to Rennes in a high-scoring ten-try game, Rennes winning 41-24 to record their first win of the season – though as their first three games were all against the current top three it has been a tough start.
In Pool B leaders Grenoble had a day off due to the international duties of three of their players, who were at the Youth Olympics.
This allowed Toulouse to move clear at the top of the table after a 25-0 win in Paris against Bobigny. Toulouse’s big strength this year is a solid defence than has conceded just 14 points, so a shut-out for the Parisians was not unexpected, and achieved despite being shown two yellow cards. Two tries from Camille Imart and a penalty try were the main scores, the boot of Cabille Cabalou providing the rest of the scores.
Bordeaux returned from a long trip north to Caen with a comfortable 27-7 win, but the biggest win of the day came in Tarbes where Bayonne ran in 10 tries to beat the home team 66-10, a win that puts them third behind Toulouse and Grenoble.