Racing-Metro seal Top 14 play off spot

Racing-Metro secured the sixth and final play-off spot in the French Top 14 rugby union championship with a thrilling 29-22 comeback win over nearest rivals Biarritz on Saturday.

The Parisian side trailed 3-14 at half-time and fell 6-19 down when Karmichael Hunt went over for a try in the 49th minute.

But a converted Johnny Leo’o try brought the hosts to within six points of their opponents and after Kiwi fly-half Andrew Mehrtens had levelled the scores at 22-22 with three successful penalties, replacement Bernard Le Roux completed a stirring turnaround with a 79th-minute try.

With one game of the regular season remaining, Racing lead Biarritz, seventh, and Brive, eighth, by six and seven points respectively and cannot be caught.

“We showed that this group and this team have lots of heart and solidarity and we managed to win despite being in trouble,” said Racing’s France international third-row forward Sebastien Chabal.

“Everything is open and we can start to dream.” Toulon earlier took a significant step towards a place in the play-off semi-finals after moving top of the table with a 33-23 win over defending champions Perpignan in Marseille.

It was Toulon’s eighth consecutive victory and it sent the southern club top of the standings for the first time since the fourth week of the season, putting them in pole position for the top-two finish they require to book a berth in the last four of the play-offs.

In front of 57,000 fans at the Stade Velodrome, Philippe Saint-Andre’s men took charge of the match against former leaders Perpignan in the second half thanks in no small part to the boot of Jonny Wilkinson.

The England international fly-half scored 23 points include a 50-metre drop-goal at the death that killed off Perpignan’s hopes of a comeback.

Brive’s hopes of overhauling Racing-Metro received an ultimately irreversible setback when they went down 33-25 to third-bottom Bayonne.

Montpellier preserved their top-flight status with a 19-6 win at second-bottom Montauban, who have already been relegated due to financial discrepancies, with France fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc making sure of victory with a drop-goal and a try in the second half.

“There’s joy in our changing room,” said Montpellier coach Didier Bes.

“We had to win it to stay up and that’s what we did. A job well done.”

Montauban were the only side in the bottom four to lose, after Bourgoin stunned Toulouse 15-13 and already-relegated Albi compounded Stade Francais’s miserable season with a 38-24 home win.

Clermont beat Castres 25-19 in Friday night’s game, both sides having already qualified for the play-offs.

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