Toulouse eye play-offs, Perpignan face 103-year low
Toulouse's Jano Vermaak (C) passes the ball during a French Top 14 rugby union match against Oyonnax on April 19, 2014 at the Charles-Mathon stadium in Oyonnax, central eastern France - by Jean-Philippe Ksiazek
Nineteen-time champions Toulouse, who have reached the semi-finals at least for the past 20 seasons, were held to a 19-19 draw by relegation-threatened Oyonnax on Saturday to occupy the sixth and last place for the play-offs.
They are level on points with Stade Francais who claimed a bonus point in Saturday's late game in a 37-23 win over and Bordeaux-Begles.
But Stade have the toughest task of the last weekend in two weeks' time when they must travel to table-topping Toulon while Toulouse are at home to mid-table Grenoble.
Oyonnax are second bottom on 50 points, the same as Bayonne, who drew 21-21 at Grenoble, and Perpignan who were humbled 46-31 by European champions and league leaders Toulon in Barcelona.
While victory saw Toulon -- for whom French fly-half Frederic Michalak scored 26 points -- go top of the table, defeat left seven-time champions Perpignan third from bottom.
Perpignan's hopes of avoiding joining fellow ailing rugby giants Biarritz in the second tier next season look slim as their final match is a trip to Clermont, where the hosts are unbeaten in 76 matches.
Third-placed Clermont on Saturday lost 22-6 at Racing Metro who became the fourth side to make sure of a play-off spot.
"It's tough. To concede 40 points, it's a heavy loss," said Perpignan captain Guilhem Guirado.
"We have two weeks to get our house in order. It's awful."
Toulouse, with the wind behind them, opened the scoring with a neatly-taken drop goal by Jean-Marc Doussain.
Oyonnax's Argentinian international fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta -- who has scored over 50 per cent of his side's points this season -- drew the hosts level shortly afterwards with a penalty.
Doussain slotted over another penalty in the 26th minute for 6-3 and the 23-year-old international added another shortly before the half-hour mark for 9-3.
Oyonnax, though, went into the half-time break ahead after their fullback Florian Denos, who came through the Toulouse academy, touched down Urdapilleta's superbly judged chip kick.
- Captain in sin-bin -
The Argentinian added the conversion to give them a 10-9 lead.
Doussain failed to restore Toulouse's lead early in the second-half as his penalty went wide but more than made up for that with a try in the 47th minute as he sold Urdapilleta a dummy and the broke another tackle to touch down. He converted his try to make it 16-10.
The hosts reduced the deficit to three though as the Toulouse scrum conceded a penalty which Urdapilleta converted for 16-13.
Oyonnax were reduced to 14 men in the 59th minute when captain Roimata Hansell-Pune was sin-binned for tackling Doussain after the whistle had gone -- Doussain missed the resulting penalty.
However, he succeeded with another attempt to make it 19-13 -- Urdapilleta, though, kept the hosts in touch by adding one of his own with 18 minutes remaining for 19-16.
The hosts thought they had regained the lead with a second try with eight minutes remaining but the video referee ruled it out for a knock-on earlier in the move.
Urdapilleta levelled with another penalty and they held on for a deserved share of the points as Toulouse's former France international fly-half Lionel Beauxis missed with a penalty in front of the posts in the final minute.
Toulouse head coach Guy Noves was satisfied to have come away with a share of the points.
"We didn't put together a perfect performance but in terms of spirit we were perfect," he said.
"We will be playing the equivalent of a knockout match against Grenoble (their final match)."