Clermont crush Bayonne in Top 14 Rugby

Clermont took back their customary position at the top of the French Top 14 Rugby standings when they crushed a weakened and outclassed Bayonne 55-0 on Wednesday.

In a rare midweek fixture programme that means most teams will play three matches
in just eight days, several sides, including Bayonne, put out virtual second-string
formations.

And it proved a chastening experience at the Stade Marcel Michelin where Clermont
had wrapped up a bonus point inside the first 24 minutes.

By then South African flanker Gerhard Vosloo, New Zealand winger Sitiveni Sivivatu
and fellow Fiji-born flyer Noa Nakaitaci had gone over to push the hosts into
a 24-0 lead.

France international Nakaitaci added a second score before the break while
Australian fly-half Brock James was exemplary from the tee, kicking 14 points.

Things did not get any easier for Bayonne after the break as Vosloo scored
twice more to complete a hat-trick while Sivivatu crossed for his second, taking
the score past the half-century mark.

“I’m obviously satisfied with this lovely win. We were especially good
at the breakdown,” said Clermont’s New Zealander coach Vern Cotter.

“We managed to rotate our squad and so we’re prepared for Sunday’s trip
to Paris (to face Stade Francais).”

Clermont replaced Stade at the Top 14 summit as the Parisians suffered a second-half
meltdown in their 38-10 defeat at reigning champions Castres.

American international Scott LaValla’s try deep into first-half overtime ensured
Stade turned around trailing just 12-10 at the break, following early tries
for the hosts from Marc-Antonie Rallier and Remi Lamerat.

But the second half turned into a massacre as Brice Mach, Lamaret again, Remy
Grosso and Marcel Garvey ensured Castres took home the maximum five points thanks
to the attacking bonus.

Australian centre Matt Giteau scored twice and South African flanker Danie
Rossouw got on the scoresheet too as European champions Toulon went second,
a point behind Clermont, with a bonus victory over newly-promoted Brive, who
had two players sin-binned.

France internationals Mathieu Bastareaud, Maxime Mermoz, Sebastien Tillous-Borde
and Alexis Pallison all crossed, as well as New Zealand’s Rudi Wulf as the hosts’
backs ran riot in a 62-12 victory at the Stade Mayol.

Giteau notched seven conversions and a penalty to finish with a personal haul
of 27 points.

However, Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was far from happy, accusing his players
of over-indulgence.

“The first half was everything but a rugby match. Up against a courageous
team, who we have to pay tribute to, what displeased me was our ungratefulness,
the complacency,” said Laporte.

“Everyone wanted to enjoy themselves rather than hurt themselves. That
annoyed me profoundly.”

In the day’s late match Racing Metro suffered a second heavy away defeat to
potential title rivals within the space of 10 days.

Toulouse bounced back from their defeat at Clermont on Saturday with a 30-6
win.

Tries from Gael Fickou, Yannick Nyanga and Samoan Joe Tekori ensured Toulouse
took the bonus point.

Last season’s second division champions Oyonnax continued their positive start
to life in the Top 14 with a 24-22 success over 2012 European Challenge Cup
winners Biarritz, leaving the Basques bottom of the table.

Silvere Tian and Antoine Tichit crossed for Oyonnax while former France half-back
Dimitri Yachvili scored 17 points for Biarritz, with American winger Takudzwa
Ngwenya scoring their sole try.

Catalans Perpignan managed a bonus-point victory as they ran in five tries
in their 36-13 win over Grenoble while Montpellier won 36-29 at Bordeaux-Begles.

French Top 14 results on Wednesday:

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