Toulouse beat Clermont to close in on Top 14 semis

Porto (Portugal) (AFP) –


Newly crowned European champions Toulouse took a big step towards the Top 14 semi-finals with a 36-27 win against Clermont on Saturday.

Tries from Selevasio Tolofua, Antoine Dupont and Romain Ntamack and a haul of five penalties proved decisive for Toulouse.

Clermont scored four tries through Damian Penaud, Etienne Fourcade, Sipili Falatea and Peceli Yato but were powerless to prevent Toulouse pulling away in the final stages in southwest France.

With just one weekend of the regular season left to play, Toulouse retain top spot in the table but are equal on 77 points with La Rochelle, the team they beat in the European Cup final in Twickenham last week.

La Rochelle bounced back from that defeat to thrash Pau 51-27 earlier on Saturday.

Toulouse's defence coach Laurent Thuery said: "If you'd told me before the game we'd get four points against Clermont a week after winning the European Cup, I'd have taken it."

Toulouse visit Bordeaux-Begles on Saturday in their final fixture of the regular season.

"We are going to need a great performance to get the point we need to book a semi-final, and we don't want to have to rely on anyone else," Thuery said.

In Friday's action, Joris Segonds booted 26 points to help Stade Francais to a 46-27 victory over Lyon to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Stade's fifth consecutive Top 14 win left the club from the capital in seventh place, equal on 66 points with Toulon in the battle for the last play-off place that is awarded to the team in sixth.

Bordeaux-Begles are fourth and have secured a place in the playoffs despite a 25-19 defeat at Toulon.