Paris (AFP) – Stade Francais eased their relegation worries with a bonus-point victory over champions Clermont on Saturday.
The 2015 champions came into the clash at the Stade Jean Bouin just two points off second-from-bottom Brive, and three points ahead of rock bottom Oyonnax.
But tries from Fijian wing Waisea Nayacalevu, with two, hooker Remi Bonfils, scrum-half Arthur Coville and Georgian prop Zurab Zhvania gave Stade some much-needed respite.
Clermont were well in the match at half-time as Scotland half-back Greig Laidlaw converted a Patricio Fernandez try and kicked two penalties.
But after the break it was one-way traffic as Stade scored 37 unanswered points — fly-half Jules Plisson kicked four conversions and five penalties — as Clermont’s misery continued following last week’s European Champions Cup quarter-final defeat to Racing 92.
Clermont dropped to 10th and now cannot mathematically make the play-offs.
Lionel Beauxis converted a Baptiste Couilloud try two minutes from time to give Lyon a 27-25 victory at Brive, who remain second from bottom.
Until then, the strugglers had been set to move out of the bottom two but instead could find themselves propping up the table if Oyonnax win at Agen later on Saturday.
Brive scored tries through James Johnstone, Samuel Marques and Seremaia Burotu and led 25-13 with 15 minutes to play but a Liam Gill launch Lyon’s victory roll that keeps them in the hunt for a top six finish.
New Zealander lock Alex Tulou scored a try and South African-born scrum-half Rory Kockott kicked a long-range penalty as Castres scored 20 unanswered points to beat Toulouse 28-23.
Victory kept alive Castres’ chances of making the top six play-offs in the French league while a losing bonus point did little to boost Toulouse’s aspirations of ending the regular season in the top two, and thus earning a bye into the play-off semi-finals.
Early tries from France internationals Gael Fickou and Yoann Huget looked set to propel Toulouse to second place in the Top 14 but Castres mounted a stirring second-half comeback.
Castres paid for first-half indiscipline as Toulouse full-back Thomas Ramos kicked three penalties and converted both Fickou and Huget’s tries to send the visitors into the changing rooms leading 23-8.
But Toulouse were unable to score any points after half-time.
Castres full-back Julien Dumora scored a try in each half but it was former New Zealand sevens international Tulou’s score that changed the complexion of the match just before the hour mark.
A Benjamin Urdapilleta penalty gave Castres the lead for the first time in the match on 63 minutes and France international scrum-half Kockott sealed victory with his monstrous kick, helped by a strong tailwind, from inside the Castres half.
Baptiste Serin outscored former All Black Colin Slade 19-18 as Bordeaux-Begles beat Pau by the same score.
Serin converted his own try and kicked four penalties, including one six minutes from time, to win his personal battle with Slade, the author of six penalties.
Bordeaux-Begles moved up a pace to ninth while Pau clung onto a play-off berth.