Fijians Shine In Top 14 Comp
Clubs in the French Top 14 competition are fighting hard to secure a spot in the playoffs. Already Grenoble and Bayonne have been relegated to the ProD2 but the race for the top spots has intensified after leaders La Rochelle suffered an upset loss to Lyon.
QERA, NAGUSA SHINE
Vodafone Flying Fijian captain, Akapusi Qera and winger Timoci Nagusa scored tries for Montpellier as they cruised to an easy 61-22 win over Bayonne at the Altrad Stadium early yesterday morning.
But it was Joe Tomane who scored a first half hat-trick of tries. Bottom-placed Bayonne were already relegated before the start of this match.
The win means Montpellier move above Toulon in to third place in the standings although they are four points adrift of second-placed Clermont and have a game in hand.
Montpellier laid the groundwork for this win in the opening period when they scored six of their tries and they led 40-8 at the break.
The home side were in control from the outset and Tomane scored the game’s opening try as early the sixth minute after big Fijian winger Nemani Nadolo tore Bayonne’s defence to shreds with a superb line break in the build-up.
Montpellier continued to dominate as the half progressed and tries from Antoine Battut and Francois Steyn meant they led 19-0 after the opening quarter before Manu Saubusse opened Bayonne’s account with a penalty in the 21st minute.
Five minutes later, Tomane crossed for his second try after Nagusa did well to draw in three defenders before offloading to the on-rushing Wallaby, who had an easy run-in.
On the half-hour mark, Nagusa pounced on a mistake by Julien Tisseron to cross the whitewash before Tomane secured his hat-trick in the 35th minute after gathering a pass from Benoit Paillaugue. Shortly before half-time, Martin Laveau set off on a mazy run – in which he beat several defenders – before offloading to Julien Jane who dived over in the corner for a try for the visitors.
The visitors scored the first points of the second half via a Martin Laveau try but Montpellier continued to attack and secured the win by the 70th minute thanks to further tries from Steyn, Qera and Willie du Plessis, who finished with a 21-point haul as he also kicked eight conversions.
Bayonne did not surrender, however, and five minutes before the end they were rewarded when Toma Taufa scored a consolation try.
TUISOVA TRY LIFTS TOULON
Burly Fijian winger Josua Tuisova scored a try and helped Toulon secure the fourth spot in the Top 14 after getting the better of Castres in the first game of Round 22 at the Stade Félix Mayol.
Tries from Toulon wingers Tuisova and Bryan Habana were enough for the hosts, with ex-Toulon wing David Smith and Steve Mafi crossing for Castres.
Toulon ended the first quarter on a high thanks to a Leigh Halfpenny penalty before Tuisova struck, converted by Halfpenny, and after Habana’s try in the 34th minute Toulon were in control at half-time, up 20-0 following another Halfpenny three-pointer.
Castres hit back eventually through Smith’s try, although Halfpenny restored order with another penalty, and the score stayed at 23-7 for much of the second half until late on. Mafi broke the deadlock with a try, converted by Benjamin Urdapilleta, but it was not enough to change the outcome as Toulon picked up a 12th league win of the season.
CLOSE CALL FOR MASILEVU, DOM
Vodafone Flying Fijians winger Benito Masilevu and Dominiko Waqaniburotu came in as replacements but failed to lift Brive as they went down 22-19 to Bordeaux-Begles.
A late try from Nans Ducuing clinched an away win for UBB against Brive, one of three tries for the visitors last Saturday. Also coming in late in the game for UBB was fullback cum winger Metuisela Talebula.
The league’s top points scorer Gaëtan Germain opening the scoring with a penalty before Hugh Chalmers crossed for UBB, converted by France scrum-half Baptiste Serin, playing at ten.
Serin then added a penalty and once Jayden Spence scored UBB held a commanding 17-3 lead, with Germain’s second penalty cutting that to 17-6 at the break.
UBB had lost lock Cyril Cazeaux to a yellow card just before the break and with the visitors still down to 14, Brive scored through hooker Guillaume Ribes.
Germain’s conversion and then two penalties put the hosts remarkably infront at 19-17, before Ducuing struck to win the match.
FIJIAN SUPER SUBS SCORE TRIES
Sub subs Alivereti Raka and Setareki Tuivucu scored a try each for Clermont as they walloped Grenoble 59-18 at Stade des Alpes.
Grenoble’s relegation to the ProD2 was confirmed after they conceded nine tries in total.
Rising star Damien Penaud grabbed two of the scores for les Jaunards, as Camille Lopez returned at fly-half to pull the strings. Clermont only led 17-6 at half-time, with Alexandre Lapandry and Fritz Lee crossing along with Penaud before the floodgates opened.
The visitors were 38-11 ahead going into the final quarter and never looked back, with David Strettle among the try scorers as Clermont romped home to close the gap on La Rochelle.
This loss meanwhile marked the end of a dismal season for Grenoble who have Fijian wingers Maritino Nemani and Edward Sawailau who will join Bayonne in France’s second division next season.
NAYACALEVU STRIKES AGAIN
Flying Fijian winger Waisea Nayacalevu dotted down a try for Stade Francais as they thrashed Pau 51-16 at Stade Jean Bouin, Paris.
The 2015 champions Stade Français enjoyed one of their best wins of the season after Pau lost Charly Malie to a red card late on.
Geoffrey Doumayrou and Julien Arias both finished with two tries inapiece in a comprehensive win for Stade after a tough campaign.
Arias’ two scores came within four minutes towards the end of the first half, giving the hosts a 30-6 lead after earlier scores from Doumayrou and Nayacalevu.
And it was one-way traffic from there onwards as Stade kept up the momentum, with Pau suffering from two yellow cards to Malie and only really having a try from Taniela Moa to show for their efforts. Watisoni Votu and Jale Vatubua toiled hard for Pau but their efforts were in vain
UPSET WIN FOR NALAGA’S LYON
Facundo Isa’s two late tries helped Lyon seal an upset win 29-25 over La Rochelle, ending an unbeaten run for the Top 14 leaders that had stretched back to November.
Lyon who fielded Nadroga winger Napolioni Nalaga scored the first try through Carl Fearns before La Rochelle responded through lock Damien Lagrange, and the two teams continued to trade scores after tries from Vincent Pelo and Toby Arnold.
The Top 14 leaders who had Kini Muirimurivalu at centre lost Afaesetiti Amosa to a yellow card and in his absence Baptiste Couilloud’s try put Lyon ahead.
A Zack Holmes penalty before the break meant that Lyon led 17-15.
A tense second half followed, Benjamin Noble’s penalty restoring La Rochelle’s lead, before Isa struck twice in the 72nd and 75th minutes to swing the lead Lyon’s way.
France flanker Kévin Gourdon grabbed a late consolation try to ensure La Rochelle secured a losing bonus point, but their unbeaten run has come to an end.