France's Dupont keeps Toulouse top with Clermont win

Paris (AFP) –


France scrum-half Antoine Dupont opened his try account for the season to keep Toulouse at the summit of the French Top 14 after Sunday's 27-15 home win over Clermont.

Dupont scored 11 times last season as his side won the domestic and European double for just a second time in their history and crossed late-on at a sold-out Stade Ernest-Wallon.

Toulouse coach Uglo Mola handed Kiwi centre Pita Ahki his first start of the campaign with Argentina pair Santiago Chocobares and Santiago Cruz Mallia away on Test duty at the Rugby Championship.

Clermont coach Jono Gibbes moved France winger Damian Penaud to midfield as the 25-ear-old started his first game in the No. 13 shirt since December 2019 with ex-All Blacks three-quarter George Moala rested.

The visitors looked good to claim a first win at Stade Ernest-Wallon in more than seven years as they led 5-0 after 20 minutes thanks to Alivereti Raka's try.

Romain Ntamack's try and a Thomas Ramos penalty were the champions' response as France Sevens winger Marvin O'Connor crossed the whitewash giving the away side a 12-10 lead at half-time.

Despite the promising first half, Clermont trailed 17-15 with 10 minutes left after Anthony Jelonch, who captained Les Bleus during the summer tour to Australia, crashed over for Mola's men before Camille Lopez slotted a drop goal.

Toulouse made sure of victory as Dupont slid over from a dominant scrum for his first try since late-May, which also came against Clermont.

Gibbes' men remain in 13th place in the table with just one win in four matches this campaign.

On Saturday, Former New Zealand scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow scored the first hat-trick of his career as La Rochelle beat promoted Biarritz at home 59-17 to secure their maiden victory of the season.

Elsewhere, billionaire-backed Stade Francais won for the first time this term thanks to a 34-10 success over previously unbeaten Castres despite Paul Alo-Emile's third minute red card for a dangerous tackle.

On Monday, the league's player of the year award will be announced with Dupont, Australia lock Will Skelton and Fiji winger Josua Tuisova, last season's top try scorer, nominated.

Earlier on Sunday, Newspaper The Sydney Morning Herald claimed the Wallabies were set to re-call Skelton to the Test set-up for the upcoming November series by ignoring their rule on selecting player based abroad.