Clermont rack up 70th straight home victory

Clermont racked up a 70th straight home win and extended their lead at the top of the French Top 14 with a 33-19 victory over Oyonnax on Sunday.

And with their three closest rivals all losing, Clermont opened up a six-point lead at the top of the table.

Fijian born wing Noa Nakaitaci was the architect in the first half, scoring a brilliant 60-yard individual try before making a second break and teeing up Samoan No.8 Fritz Lee to go over.

Nakataici’s score was pure genius as he took the ball from the back of a breakdown, looped around the forwards and burst through a gap in Oyonnax’s defensive line before chipping ahead and winning the foot-race to touch down.

However, Clermont were denied a bonus point by a spirited second-half display from the second division champions.

Centre Pierre Aguillon and South African hooker Jody Jenneker both went over either side of France hooker Benjamin Kayser’s try for the hosts but Oyonnax still dropped into the relegation places.

“We’ll take that victory against a very good Oyonnax team,” said Clermont’s New Zealander coach Vern Cotter.

“Even without the bonus this win allows us to stay on top. We wanted to do well before the European Cup (begins again in two weeks).”

In the day’s late match, underperforming Racing-Metro earnt a huge morale-boost with a 14-3 victory over European champions Toulon.

Wing Marc Andreu scored the only try of the match while Ireland fly-half Jonathan Sexton kicked three penalties for the Parisian hosts.

England legend Jonny Wilkinson kicked Toulon’s only three points.

It was a Racing’s second scalp this season having beaten Clermont 13-9 at home in the European Cup in October.

Yet their indifferent league form has left them in eighth, two points behind Montpellier in the final play-off berth — although they share the same record of eight wins, one draw and six defeats as third-placed Castres, with only bonus points separating them.

“It’s an important result for us, especially when you see the other results,” said Racing coach Laurent Travers.

“We’ve caught up a bit with the peloton and now our aim is to get back in the Top six.”

Record four-time European champions Toulouse were denied a losing bonus point by a last gasp Stephen Brett penalty that gave Bayonne a much-needed 21-13 victory.

It means Toulouse have lost every away match in the league this season and drop to fifth, nine points behind Clermont, who they entertain next weekend.

Louis Picamoles crossed the tryline for the visitors to help them to a 13-8 lead at the break.

Marvin O’Connor’s score had initially given the Basque team the lead but it was former All Black Joe Rokocoko’s score on 64 minutes that proved the turning point before his fellow New Zealander’s clinching late kick.

That result moved Bayonne a point above Oyonnax.

Grenoble maintained their fine home form and ended Castres’s three-match winning run with a 20-16 success.

Tries from South African prop Albertus Buckle and Fijian wing Alipate Ratini gave Grenoble victory despite Fiji centre Seremaia Bai’s score for Castres, who had to content themselves with a losing bonus point.

Stade Francais moved up to second with a 19-12 win over Perpignan, who lost for the fifth time in a row.

Stade scored the only try in the first half with a penalty try awarded as Perpignan, reduced to 14 men, crumbled in the scrum.

Montpellier bounced back from three straight defeats to get their top six bid back on track with a crushing 48-22 destruction of rock-bottom Biarritz, who are becoming increasingly isolated, 13 points from safety.

Tries from Fiji wing Timoci Nagusa, hooker Mickael Ivaldi and braces from New Zealander No.8 Alex Tulou and Georgian flanker Mamuka Gorgodze ensured an attacking bonus point.

That was despite spirited resistence from Biarritz midway through the second period as Norway lock E

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