Clermont returned to the summit of the Top 14 standings in style on Saturday while Castres climbed out of the relegation zone thanks to a hard-fought win over Oyonnax.
Clermont moved above Toulon thanks to a bonus-point win over Lyon while Grenoble maintained their unbeaten home record as they battled past Bayonne.
Elsewhere, Bordeaux-Bègles came from behind in a grandstand finish to snatch a last-gasp win at La Rochelle – despite playing for eight minutes with 13 men – to rocket up into the top four.
Castres 27-18 Oyonnax
Stade Pierre Antoine, Castres
A precious win for Castres as they climb out of the drop zone, but it wasn’t easy going against an ambitious Oyonnax side.
It wasn’t pretty in a match between a home side desperate not to lose and a visiting team that was happy to disrupt the locals.
Castres led 13-6 at the interval thanks to a try from hooker Brice Mach off the back of a maul and a yellow card to Oyonnax lock Leon Power, who paid the price for pulling jumpers down in the line-out.
Castres started the second half badly as Jannie Bornman was sin-binned for a tackling Pedrie Wannenburg in the air but Rory Kockott scored a great try as he collected his own chip ahead to give his team a nine-point lead going into the final half-hour.
Oyonnax kept fighting however. Fly-half Regis Lespinas took his successful penalty count to five to keep the visitors in touch. Lespinas then landed a drop to cut the gap to just three and CO looked in danger when Ibrahim Diarra saw yellow for not rolling away.
Man-of-the-match Kockott slotted two late penalties however as Castres held on for the win that sees them climb to 11th in the standings.
Tries: Mach, Kockott
Pens: Kockott 5
Yellow cards: Bornman, Diarra
Pen: Lespinas 5
Yellow card: Power
Castres: 15 Julien Dumora, 14 Romain Martial, 13 Remi Lamerat, 12 Romain Cabannes, 11 Remi Grosso, 10 Remi Tales (c), 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Johnnie Beattie, 7 Jannie Bornman, 6 Ibrahim Diarra, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Richie Gray, 3 Paea Fa’anunu, 2 Brice Mach, 1 Mihaita Lazar.
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Saimone Taumoepeau, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Yannick Caballero, 20 Cedric Garcia, 21 Daniel Kirkpatrick, 22 Thomas Combezou, 23 Yohan Montes
Oyonnax: 15 Florian Denos (c), 14 Dug Codjo, 13 Guillaume Bousses, 12 Roimata Hansell-Pune, 11 Yves Donguy, 10 Regis Lespinas, 9 Fabien Cibray, 8 Pedrie Wannenburg, 7 Christophe Andre, 6 Guillaume Bernad, 5 Leon Power, 4 Miroslav Nemecek, 3 Clement Baiocco, 2 Clement Jullien, 1 Antoine Tichit.
Replacements: 16 Jody Jenneker, 17 Marc Clerc, 18 Geoffrey Fabbri, 19 Viliame Ma’afu, 20 Yohan Domenech, 21 Pierre Aguillon, 22 Jean-François Coux, 23 Soane Tonga’uiha
Referee: Pascal Pechambert
Clermont 43-12 Lyon
Parc des Sports Marcel Michelin, Clermont Ferrand
Another masterclass from Clermont, who scored 27 unaswered points after break to cruise to a bonus-point win. New fly-half Camille Lopez was outstanding once again.
At try on the half-hour mark from Aurelien Rougerie and four Lopez penalties saw Clermont lead 16-12 at the interval.
Kiwi fly-half Stephen Brett kicked three penalties and a drop goal for Lyon in the first half to keep the visitors in the hunt but it was one-way traffic in the second period.
Clermont stretched their lead after the break via a wonderful try as Lopez found Rougerie on the switch before the centre offloaded to Benson Stanley, who finished in the corner.
Hooker John Ulugia added the third try on the hour mark after a great offload from lock Sebastien Vahaamahina. Fritz Lee scored number four from Uwa Tawalo’s break and offload as Clermont turned up the heat against a LOU outfit that had no reply.
Tries: Rougerie, Stanley, Ulugia, Lee
Cons: Lopez 4
Pens: Lopez 5
Pens: Brett 3
Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Noa Nakaitaci, 13 Aurelien Rougerie, 12 Benson Stanley, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 Camille Lopez, 9 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 8 Damien Chouly (c), 7 Viktor Kolelishvili, 6 Alexandre Lapandry, 5 Sebastien Vahaamahina, 4 Jamie Cudmore, 3 Clement Ric, 2 John Ulugia, 1 Raphael Chaume.
Replacements: 16 Ti’i Paulo, 17 Vincent Debaty, 18 Loic Jacquet, 19 Fritz Lee, 20 Thierry Lacrampe, 21 Brock James, 22 Uwa Tawalo, 23 Daniel Kotze.
Lyon: 15 Romain Loursac, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Kendrick Lynn, 12 Fabrice Estebanez, 11 Mosese Ratuvou, 10 Stephen Brett, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Karim Ghezal, 7 George Smith, 6 Julien Puricelli, 5 Christian Njewel, 4 Coenie Basson (c), 3 Horatiu Pungea, 2 Deon Fourie, 1 Bogdan Balan.
Replacements: 16 Jean-Philippe Bonrepaux, 17 Jeremy Castex, 18 Frans Viljoen, 19 Masi Matadigo, 20 Mathieu Loree, 21 Paul Bonnefond, 22 Franck Romanet, 23 Hoani Tui.
Referee: Mathieu Raynal
Grenoble 24-15 Bayonne
Stade des Alpes, Grenoble
After a strong start, Grenoble let Bayonne back into the game but managed a final push to secure the win. Bayonne will be disappointed to leave empty handed after playing some attractive rugby.
Grenoble led 13-6 at half time thanks to an early try from prop Richard Choirat and couple of penalties from fly-half Jonathan Wisniewski.
Grenoble number eight Rory Grice powered over from short range on the hour mark to put the hosts 18-12 up but Bayonne fly-half Blair Stewart kept the scoreboard ticking and his team in touch with a flawless kicking effort from the tee.
Indeed, the teams were separated by just three points with ten minutes to play but Wisniewski’s fifth penalty ensured les Isérois remain unbeaten on home soil.
Tries: Choirat, Grice
Pens: Wisniewski 5
Pens: Stewart 5
Grenoble: 15 Fabien Gengenbacher (c), 14 Alipate Ratini, 13 Jackson Willison, 12 Nigel Hunt, 11 Daniel Kilioni, 10 Jonathan Wisniewski, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Rory Grice, 7 Fabien Alexandre, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Hendrik Roodt, 4 Benjamin Hand, 3 Richard Choirat, 2 Arnaud Heguy, 1 Remi Hugues.
Replacements: 16 Laurent Bouchet, 17 Albertus Buckle, 18 Thibaud Rey, 19 Mahamadou Diaby, 20 James Hart, 21 Chris Farrell, 22 Julien Caminati, 23 Kevin Goze.
Bayonne: 15 Scott Spedding, 14 Martin Bustos Moyano, 13 Joe Rokocoko, 12 Santiago Fernandez, 11 Marvin O’Connor, 10 Blair Stewart, 9 Guillaume Rouet, 8 Charles Ollivon, 7 Dwayne Haare, 6 Jean Monribot, 5 Pelu Taele, 4 Lisiate Fa’aoso, 3 Giorgi Jgenti, 2 Anthony Etrillard, 1 Janse van Rensburg.
Replacements: 16 Simon Labouyrie, 17 Lucas Pointud, 18 Florian Lapeyrade, 19 Opeti Fonua, 20 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 21 Christophe Loustalot, 22 Mathieu Ugalde, 23 Jon Elissalde.
Referee: Cyril Lafon
La Rochelle 26-29 Bordeaux-Bègles
Stade Marcel Deflandre, La Rochelle
Lionel Beauxis kicked the winning penalty in the 79th minutes as Bordeaux-Bègles ended La Rochelle’s winning streak at home and provisionally jumped up to third!
La Rochelle will be kicking themselves after blowing a ten-point lead in the dying minutes.
UBB wing Blair Connor scored after just five minutes to give the visitors the early lead but a Penalty try and a handful of penalties from scrum-half Julien Audy saw La Rochelle hit half time in front at 16-13.
The kickers continued to exchange penalties to leave the game on a knife edge heading into the final quarter.
The match swung in La Rochelle’s favour when South Africans Jandre Marais and Heini Adams were yellow carded within two minutes of each other.
Against 13 men, the hosts didn’t take long to strike as full-back Kini Murimurivalu used a huge overlap to score in the corner.
UBB were thrown a lifeline when Alofa Alofa saw yellow for preventing the visitors from taking a penalty quickly and Beauxis cut the gap to seven.
Marais made amends for his earlier indiscretion by scoring a vital try as he broke off a maul. Beauxis bounced the conversion in off the post to level the scores before landing the winner from the tee with just seconds left on the clock.
For La Rochelle:
Tries: Penalty try, Murimurivalu
Cons: Audy 2
Pens: Audy 3, Barraque
Yellow cards: Botia, Alofa
Tries: Connor, Marais
Cons: Bernard, Beauxis
Pens: Bernard 3, Beauxis 2
Yellow cards: Marais, Adams
La Rochelle: 15 Kini Murimurivalu, 14 Alofa Alofa, 13 Jean-Pascal Barraque, 12 Levani Botia, 11 Sireli Bobo, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Julien Audy, 8 Kevin Gourdon, 7 Romain Sazy, 6 Nicolas Djebaili, 5 Leandro Cedaro, 4 Jason Eaton, 3 Uini Atonio (c), 2 Hika Forbes, 1 Thomas Synaeghel.
Replacements: 16 Rassie van Vuuren, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Cobus Grobler, 19 Zeno Kieft, 20 Benoit Guyot, 21 Julien Berger, 22 Hamish Gard, 23 Vincent Pelo.
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Sofiane Guitoune, 14 Metuisela Talebula, 13 Julien Rey (c), 12 Thibaut Lacroix, 11 Blair Connor, 10 Pierre Bernard, 9 Heini Adams, 8 Taisina Tuifua, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Bertrand Guiry, 5 Berend Botha, 4 Jandre Marais, 3 Jean-Baptiste Poux, 2 Clement Maynadier, 1 Sebastien Taofifenua.
Replacements: 16 Ole Avei, 17 Jefferson Poirot, 18 Julien Ledevedec, 19 Matthew Clarkin, 20 Yann Lesgourgues, 21 Lionel Beauxis, 22 Felix Le Bourhis, 23 Albert Toetu.
Referee: Jerome Garces