Clermont crushed at Bordeaux

Clermont’s hopes of returning to top spot in France were dashed in dramatic fashion at Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday as they lost 51-21 to the side managed by former France captain Raphael Ibanez.

Bordeaux ran in six tries to two as Clermont shipped over 50 points in a match for the first time in nine years.

“We were taught a lesson in commitment. From the start we were dominated both in defence and attack,” said Clermont coach Franck Azema.

“We conceded more tries in one match than we had since the start of the season. We can no longer say that Clermont has the best defence.”

Brock James gave Clermont the lead with a penalty after three minutes with opposing fly-half Pierre Bernard replying in kind three minutes later.

James made it 6-3 after eight minutes, but three minutes later Bordeaux took the lead with the first try of the match.

Centre Philippe Le Bourhis made the initial break from inside his own half and the Bordeaux pack then worked the ball close to the Clermont line allowing full-back Romain Lonca to skip over.

At 10-6 down, Clermont had a sustained period of pressure inside the Bordeaux 22 but came away with nothing to show for it and they were made to pay after 19 minutes with Bordeaux’s second try of the match.

Bernard cleared his lines with a long kick and from the ensuing ruck Clermont No.8 Fritz Lee lost control of the ball, allowing the Bordeaux back line to switch the ball left with Bernard breaking Jamie Cudmore’s tackle to run in under the posts.

The fly-half converted his own try and it was an unexpected 17-6 lead to Bordeaux at the end of the first quarter.

A third penalty from James kept Clermont in touch at 17-9, but after Loic Jacquet was shown a yellow card on 35 minutes, Bordeaux worked their way up the field and South African lock Berend Botha powered his way over to make it 24-9 to the home side at half-time.

Clermont worked their way back up to the other end and winger Napolioni Nalaga managed to muscle his way over for a try that went unconverted.

Two more penalties from Bernard, however, took Bordeaux 30-14 ahead and when winger Metuisela Talebula finished off a well-worked three-quarters move, it was all over for Azema’s side.

Tries from Clement Maynardier and Jandre Marais completed the rout.

Castres, the 2013 champions who had started the day second from bottom, collected only their second win in eight matches with a 51-10 mauling of Grenoble.

South African-born scrum-half Rory Kockott boosted his chances of a first French cap by grabbing one of Castres’ seven tries while also kicking 16 points.

With French national coach Philippe Saint-Andre looking on, Racing Metro claimed their second bonus-point win of the season by running in seven tries in a 46-32 win over Brive who scored four tries of their own.

Springbok lock Juandre Kruger grabbed a brace for Racing with Teddy Thomas, Johan Goosen, Francois Van der Merwe, Virgile Lacombe and Camille Gerondeau also on the scoresheet.

On Friday, Australian star Matt Giteau led French and European champions Toulon to a scrappy, bad-tempered 21-18 win over Oyonnax to take pole position in the Top 14.

The fly-half played the decisive role in his team’s two tries as Toulon avenged their shock 25-22 loss at Oyonnax last season.

In Saturday’s late match, 19-time champions Toulouse look to avoid a sixth successive defeat when they host Stade Francais.