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Montpellier ran in nine tries as they pummelled French Top 14 leaders Racing 92 on Saturday with a crushing 60-7 victory against an understrength visiting side missing star fly-half Dan Carter.
Bismarck Du Plessis and brother Jannie dotted down either side of a Francois Steyn try with Fijian wing Timoci Nagusa also crossing as Montpellier completely dominated right from the start at the Altrad Stadium.
Benjamin Fall touched down early in the second half before the home side were awarded a penalty try as the onslaught continued, with further scores from Jesse Mogg, Mickael Ivaldi and a second from Nagusa.
Etienne Dussartre’s second-half try was scant consolation for Racing as Jake White’s Montpellier secured a fourth straight win to tighten their grip on a play-off place and draw to within four points of Racing at the top.
With an eye on next month’s European Champions Cup quarter-final against holders Toulon, Racing opted to rest All Blacks legend Carter along with Welsh scrum-half Mike Phillips and Argentine speedster Juan Imhoff.
Racing were also without six international stars away on Six Nations duty, while Montpellier were missing fly-half Francois Trinh-Duc who was due to start for France against England in Paris later.
Montpellier caught Racing napping early when Bismarck Du Plessis received a return pass from fellow South African Pierre Spies after a quick lineout to burrow over in the corner.
Former Springbok Steyn ploughed over three minutes later as Montpellier scrum-half Benoit Paillaugue restarted play quickly following a penalty, with Spies then stealing a Racing lineout as Jannie Du Plessis forced his way over.
Nagusa darted in for Montpellier’s fourth try with just 24 minutes gone, while any hopes of Racing regrouping after the break were obliterated as Fall strolled in to make it 32-0 less than a minute after the restart.
A penalty try soon followed before Mogg ran over as Carter’s replacement, Remi Tales, coughed up the ball after a crunching tackle deep inside Racing territory.
Dussartre knifed through the hosts’ defence to prevent Racing from being whitewashed, but Montpellier refused to let up as Ivaldi added another try before Nagusa chased down his own kick to dot down and complete a stunning demolition.
Earlier, defending champions Stade Francais snapped a run of three successive defeats with a 33-20 victory at home to play-off hopefuls La Rochelle.
Djibril Camara scored a pair of tries with Willem Alberts and Julien Arias also touching down before a late effort from Paul Williams ensured Stade a welcome bonus point.
Gloucester club captain Greig Laidlaw will leave the English Premiership Rugby club at the end of the season to join French Top 14 club Clermont. Scotland captain Laidlaw joined...
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