Toulouse book Top 14 Rugby Semi-final place

Toulouse joined rivals Clermont as two of the four teams that will contest the French Top 14 semi-finals even though they were below their best form in a 30-21 home win over lowly Brive.

Stade Francais meanwhile did their hopes of breaking into the all-important top six a power of good by defeating Perpignan 35-31 in Paris.

In other early results on Saturday Bordeaux defeated Agen 29-15 and Bayonne edged Lyon 20-19 away in a clash opposing the league’s bottom two sides.

European Cup semi-finalists Clermont made sure of a top two finish by defeating Montpellier 22-9 at home on Friday evening.

The top two sides at the end of the regular season qualify automatically for the semi-finals with the next four teams playing off to fill the remaining two slots.

Toulouse, shock losers to Edinburgh in the European Cup quarter-finals, have re-focused their efforts on the domestic front but they looked nervous early on after two straight losses.

Brive opened the scoring with a sixth-minute penalty, but Toulouse struck back with tries from French internationals Clement Poitrenaud and Julian Clerc, the latter returning to action after being sidelined for five weeks with a shoulder injury.

The visitors battled back to lead 18-15 at half-time but Kiwi fly-half Luke McAlister sent over five second-half penalties to clinch the win.

Stade Francais trailed sixth-placed side Castres by six points going into Saturday’s matches, but the four points they picked up for the win over Perpignan in a tough battle cut the gap to two.

Castres were playing later away to third-placed Toulon.

Watched by a 10,000 crowd at the Charlety Stadium in the French capital, Stade managed two tries through Argentine prop Rodrigo Roncero and Australian flanker George Smith, Smith but owed their victory above all to the reliable boot of scrum-half Julian Dupuy who kicked seven penalties and two conversions for a personal haul of 25 points.

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