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Jake White’s Montpellier side have moved up fifth place in the Top 14 standings after beating last placed Oyonnax 31-10 with a bonus point.
Quentin Etienne kicked Oyonnax into an early lead, but Montpellier replied with the opening two of four tries through Australian full-back Ben Lucas and former Springbok under-20s lock Paul Willemse, both converted by South African fly-half Demetri Catrakilis.
Oyonnax, whose chances of avoiding the drop back down into ProD2 seem more than slim, scored a try of their own through South African hooker Jody Jenneker, converted by Etienne.
But Montpellier, featuring just eight French players in their match-day 23, put the game out of the home side’s reach with two more tries from France winger Benjamin Fall and Springbok prop Bismarck du Plessis, Catrakilis converting both and also notching up a penalty to wrap up a convincing victory.
The result means Montpellier leapfrog Toulouse into fifth place on 50 points.
“It wasn’t a great match,” admitted Montpellier skipper Fulgence Ouedraogo, with leaders Racing 92 next up for the Mediterranean side.
“But we got what we came looking for. We knew that to win here we had to be strong up front and we were.
“We now have to refocus on a big match against Racing. In any case, today we bagged a bonus point ahead of that tough home game,” the flanker said, adding: “Personally, I’ve never played in such a powerful Montpellier side.”
Montpellier’s South African coach Jake White has certainly added some steel to the club, bringing in a raft of his countrymen since taking over.
“We saw today a powerful Montpellier side which has benefitted from the South African players and their style of game,” said White, who led a no-nonsense Springbok side to Rugby World Cup glory in 2007 on French soil.
“Now heads turn to a very difficult game against Racing, who seem to be the team of the season.”
Racing made the most of Stade Francais indiscipline to romp to a bonus point 34-16 victory in the Parisian derby on Saturday.
Champions Stade slumped to a third straight defeat that keeps them just one place above the relegation zone and almost certainly out of contention for the end of season play-offs.
Clermont stayed second and a point behind Racing after defeating local rivals Brive 25-6 with all the game’s points coming in the first half.
European champions Toulon, surprisingly defeated 19-14 by La Rochelle last week, hit back with a bonus-point 38-8 stroll past Grenoble.
Toulon ran in six tries with Wallaby winger Drew Mitchell grabbing a brace and All Blacks legend Ma’a Nonu also on the scoresheet.
Toulon stay third, two points off the lead, but have played a game more.
Castres stayed in contention for a play-off spot with a 50-6 win over relegation-haunted Agen which saw Samoan wing David Smith grab four of his team’s seven tries.
On Friday, Toulouse were held to a 13-13 draw at home to Bordeaux, who are now unbeaten in five and sit fourth in the table.
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