Toulouse edged out Racing to claim their first win of the season
Paris (AFP) - Toulouse claimed the first victory of their French Top 14 title defence with a tense 20-17 win over Racing 92 on Sunday, while promoted Brive stunned Clermont in the 100th central France derby.
Beaten at Bordeaux-Begles and then at early leaders Lyon in their opening two games of the season, Ugo Mola’s men edged past Racing in their first home outing to join their beaten opponents on five points in the table.
“Mentally, it was a success that will count for a lot,” said wing Lucas Tauzin, who scored Toulouse’s third and final try. “Now we must erase what has not been (going well) and continue to work.”
Toulouse, who only lost three times last season but have been depleted by a mass exodus of players for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, took advantage of an early yellow card for Argentinian star Juan Imhoff.
They raced into a 12-0 lead as Pita Ahki converted his own seventh-minute score before Arthur Bonneval touched down and Racing winger Teddy Thomas was sin-binned.
Imhoff, left out of Argentina’s World Cup squad, cut the gap to five points at half-time as his try was converted by Teddy Iribaren.
Tauzin’s score and Sebastien Bezy’s extras gave Toulouse some breathing space, which they needed to withstand a late Racing fightback.
France international Thomas, also overlooked for the World Cup in Japan, grabbed a try.
Spanish-born Scot Sam Hidalgo-Clyne came off the bench to score a conversion and then a late penalty for Racing, but his efforts proved only enough for a losing bonus point.
- Brive take 100th derby spoils -
Former French president Francois Hollande watched Brive beat Clermont in the Top 14
Earlier on Sunday, Brive sealed a 28-21 victory over last season’s runners-up Clermont.
Club stalwart Thomas Laranjeira kicked 13 points as Guillaume Namy, So’otala Fa’aso’o and Sevanaia Galala scored tries in the first half for their first win of the season as ex-France President Francois Hollande, a former representative in the Correze region for more than two decades, watched on from the stands.
The visitors, without seven players away on Rugby World Cup duty with France, kept in touching distance with touchdowns from Fritz Lee, George Moala and Charlie Cassang but two late yellow cards put any hopes of a comeback to bed.
“The fact we played this 100th derby against Clermont added fuel to our fire, we were really motivated in the tackle area and with our aggression,” Brive coach Jeremy Davidson said.
“We’ve launched our season against a big fish. We played to our best level,” the former Ireland lock added.
Clermont sit fourth in the fledgling standings having won their opening two games, while the victory edged Brive off the bottom after back-to-back defeats.
“We must congratulate Brive on their start, we suffered and we didn’t succeed in slowing down their game,” said Clermont coach Franck Azema.
On Saturday, Lyon moved to the top of the table with their first ever victory at Toulon with a 20-6 triumph at Stade Felix-Mayol.