Toulouse, Bordeaux in Top 14 stalemate


Paris (AFP)

French Top 14 play-off rivals Toulouse and Bordeaux battled out a 13-13 draw on Friday with the record four-time European champions now having gone four games without a win since the start of the Six Nations.

The result kept Bordeaux in fourth spot, just two points behind leaders Racing 92, while Toulouse are fifth on 48 points, a full 10 ahead of Castres in seventh spot and seemingly well set for the play-offs.

It was a second successive draw for Toulouse following their 21-21 clash with Brive last week.

"We need to have more of a killer instinct in the key moments," said Toulouse coach Ugo Mola.

"We didn't retain the ball long enough. We had plenty of ammunition but weren't realistic in our strongest moments."

Bordeaux backs coach Emile Ntamack said his team were content with a draw.

"This suits us, we knew we would have to be strong to face Toulouse who would give nothing away. We suffered at the start but managed to turn it around."

After Jean-Marc Doussain and Pierre Bernard had exchanged early penalties, it was left to Toulouse's former All Blacks star Luke McAlister to conjure up the first try after half an hour at the Ernst Wallon Stadium.

McAlister, playing at full-back, had time to neatly place a crossfield kick into the hands of Samoan winger Paul Perez who sprinted half the length of the field down the right for the score.

Doussain succeeded with the extras for 10-3 although Bernard had time to pop over a second penalty, courtesy of the upright, for 10-6 at the break.

Bordeaux, who came into the game on the back of a four-match winning streak, snatched the lead early in the second period through replacement back Metuisela Talebula.

The Fijian had only been on the pitch for five minutes when he was set clear by a smart kick off the back of a scrum by Baptiste Serin which cleverly switched the direction of play.

Talebula ignored winger Adam Ashley-Cooper, in support, bouncing off two tackles to score.

Bernard added the conversion for 13-10 as Bordeaux were suddenly dreaming of a first win at Toulouse in five years.

Bordeaux's Wallaby winger Ashley-Cooper had grabbed a hat-trick in last week's rout of Oyonnax but he came back to earth on Friday when he was yellow-carded for tackling Toby Flood without the ball.

Doussain missed the resulting simple penalty in front of the posts -- his second failure of the night -- before he was relieved of kicking duties and substituted.

McAlister was handed the job and he soon pulled Toulouse level at 13-13.

Despite late pressure from Toulouse, the visitors held on for a share of the spoils.

Toulon will look to bounce back from last week's surprise 19-14 defeat at La Rochelle when they entertain Grenoble on Saturday.

The European champions are one of the hardest hit sides by the international absentees during the Six Nations, made worse by the fact flying South African wing Bryan Habana is also away on Sevens duty, as is Australian fly-half Quade Cooper.

Leaders Racing face misfiring champions Stade Francais in the Paris derby.

Stade slumped to one place above the relegation places after last week's dismal 19-12 defeat at Pau, a week after crumbling 33-18 at home to Grenoble.

Resurgent Clermont, on a three-match win streak that has seen them plunder 117 points, host free-falling Brive.