Gasnier sparks Stade’s first Top14 victory

Australian centre Mark Gasnier scored twice as French giants Stade Francais, who had seen some of their squad laid low by swine flu during the week, clinched their first win of the new season on Saturday.


Defending champions Perpignan ended former European champions Toulouse’s perfect start to the campaign while debt-ridden Bourgoin, whose players have agreed to take pay cuts in order to help keep the team afloat, edged Biarritz to move off the foot of the Top 14 table.


Gasnier struck in the 22nd and and 79th minutes as Stade, who were level 13-13 at the break, ran away to beat Montpellier 43-26 with Italian centre Mirco Bergamasco and backrow forward Pascal Pape also scoring.


“Happily, a match lasts 80 minutes,” said Stade’s Australian coach Ewen McKenzie, who admitted his side is still looking for its right rhythm.


“We conceded 26 points which is not good but scored 43 which is very good. We can score five tries but can lose the ball five times with the final pass.


“We take risks, we like to play with the ball. But you can’t play all the time. I’m looking for the right blend.”


Toulouse, the 2008 French title winners, were knocked off top spot in a 17-15 defeat at champions Perpignan, for whom centre Maxime Mermoz scored the game’s only try in the 63rd minute.


Toulouse are a point behind Clermont, who lead the Top 14 despite being held to a dour 9-9 draw at Brive on Friday.


Bourgoin, with debts of around two million euros, saw off Biarritz 22-17, a day after players and coaches agreed to accept pay cuts of between 15 and 18 percent in exchange for a desperately-needed cash injection of 700,000 euros from former president Gaston Maulin.


Victory was only assured in the last 10 minutes, however, thanks to a penalty and drop goal from fly-half Benjamin Boyet who kicked 17 points in total.


Racing-Metro picked up their second win of the season, a 18-9 win over Bayonne after trailing 9-6 at the break.


Former All Blacks fly-half Andrew Mehrtens kicked three penalties for the Paris side.


The match between Montauban and Castres was postponed on Friday as six players with Castres were also diagnosed with swin flu.


Toulon and Albi were meeting in Saturday’s late match.


French Top 14 results on Saturday:

Bourgoin 22 Biarritz 17
Racing Metro 18 Bayonne 9
Stade Francais 43 Montpellier 26
Perpignan 17 Toulouse 15

More to follow.

Playing later
Albi v Toulon

Montauban v Castres

Brive 9 Clermont 9

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