Updated: Sunday, 05 January 2014 00:44 | By Agence France-Presse

Grenoble shock Toulon with late Ratini try

An interception try from Fiji winger Alipate Ratini two minutes from full-time, converted by Julien Caminati, handed Grenoble a dramatic 22-21 victory over Toulon in Top 14 action on Saturday.


Grenoble shock Toulon with late Ratini try

Toulon lock Bakkies Botha (second-right) vies with Grenoble's Kenan Mutapcic during their French Top 14 rugby union match in Toulon, France on January 04, 2014

The European champions looked to have sealed the win thanks to seven Jonny Wilkinson penalties that had given them a 21-15 lead at the 78th minute.

But Grenoble have proven themselves to be doughty fighters this season and they duly stuck to their task this time around to claim their first victory at Toulon since 1999.

When Wilkinson, the veteran Englishman who was a World Cup winner back in 2003, fired out a late pass on the left wing with an overlap abegging, Ratini read it perfectly, came out of the line and claimed the ball.

There was to be no catching the former Fiji 100m sprint champion, Caminati stepping up to kick the decisive conversion from in front of the posts.

Toulon coach Bernard Laporte was left fuming as referee Laurent Cardona had indicated that he was playing advantage for the European champions.

Grenoble, who were surprise 28-26 winners over Toulon the first time the two sides met this season, had four Valentin Courent penalties and a Fabien Gengenbacher drop-goal to their credit before the dramatic denouement.

Toulon threw the ball around in a desperate attempt to get out of their own half following Ratini's late effort, but replacement forward Florian Faure caught hold of Delon Armitage with the full-back isolated, forcing the turnover and causing Grenoble coach Fabrice Landreau to burst into tears.

Racing and Montpellier play away later Saturday to newly-promoted pair Oyonnax and Brive respectively.

Racing's fans will certainly be keen to see how their side fares in this match in a season of remarkable contrasts.

Having beaten Clermont 13-9 in the European Cup, they upset Toulon 14-3 at home in the league last weekend.

Yet that apart, it has been a poor season for the expensively-assembled Parisians. They had four defeats in five games from late September to late November and, despite two wins and a draw since then, they are still outside the play-off berths.

Rock-bottom Biarritz, who are 13 points from safety, travel to Stade Francais, and Catalans Perpignan, on a five-match losing run, host Basques Bayonne.

Castres closed to three points off leaders Clermont after an uninspiring 15-9 win over struggling Bordeaux-Begles on Friday.

In Sunday's match, Toulouse will be hoping their impregnable home form holds up when they host Top 14 leaders and title favourites Clermont at the Stade Ernest-Wallon.

This weekend of Top 14 action comes ahead of back-to-back European Cup matches that complete the pool stages over the next two weeks.

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