Oyonnax stun Clermont as Castres, Toulouse hit back
Oyonnax's French winger Florian Denos (R) celebrates with Oyonnax's French winger Jean Francois Coux after scoring a try during a French Top 14 rugby union match between Oyonnax and Clermont-Ferrand on August 24, 2013 at the Charles-Mathon Stadium in Oyonnax. Top 14 newboys Oyonnax produced a stunning performance at home to shock last season's European Cup finalists Clermont 30-19 on Saturday.
Oyonnax's win, in what was their first-ever home match in the top tier, extended their unbeaten run at the Charles-Mathon Stadium to 24 matches.
"They got on top of us in the opening 20 minutes because of their physicality," said Clermont's Australian fly-half Brock James.
"We were unable to put into action our game strategy and made errors but we showed some mettle in the second-half."
The hosts, who opened their campaign last weekend with a 39-11 defeat by Bayonne, put the visitors, who had won their opener 22-18 against Biarritz, under pressure from the start.
That pressure paid off with two tries in five minutes.
Prop Jody Jenneker sneaked down the blindside to touch down in the 25th minute while, five minutes later, full-back Florian Denos finished off an 80-metre counter-attack which began when a misplaced pass by James was kicked upfield by Oyonnax's Ivory Coast international Silvere Tian.
Oyonnax fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta converted both tries and added two penalties for good measure to give them a 20-0 half-time lead.
Clermont, who had been forewarned of Oyonnax's qualities after losing a pre-season match 23-14, clawed their way back with three penalties by James and a try by Gerhard Vosloo to make it 23-14 -- Urdapilleta had converted a penalty of his own -- after 56 minutes.
But Clermont's hopes of turning the match around ended 13 minutes from time when backrow forward Valentin Ursache went over for the third try which was also converted.
Clermont, who will lose coach Vern Cotter at the end of the season for the Scotland national job, scored a consolation try on the final whistle through centre Benson Stanley but even that was not enough to get them a defensive bonus point.
Meanwhile, defending champions Castres and traditional heavyweights Toulouse both recovered in style from opening weekend defeats.
Castres, stunned 26-23 by Perpignan seven days ago, ran in five tries to beat Grenoble 34-6.
Two of those came in the first 10 minutes through Ibrahim Diarra and Remi Lamerat with South African Antonie Claassen grabbing a third just after the break.
English winger Marcel Garvey scored a quickfire brace in the 52nd and 56th minutes to complete the rout.
Toulouse, who were 31-25 losers at Bordeaux in their Top 14 opener, hit back with a four-try, 40-3 romp against Bayonne.
Christopher Tolofua, Maxime Medard, Gregory Lamboley and Louis Picamoles scored the tries which all arrived in the space of the opening 20 minutes of the second period.
Former All Black Luke McAlister kicked 20 points.
Friday's game had seen European champions Toulon, beaten Top 14 finalists last season, hammer big-spending rivals Racing-Metro 41-14 with veteran fly-half Jonny Wilkinson supplying 16 points and playing a hand in three of Toulon's five tries.