Dupont provides spark as Toulouse win at Biarritz

Paris (AFP) –


Antoine Dupont came off the bench and quickly provided two moments of inspiration to break open a dour game and give French Top 14 leaders Toulouse a 17-11 victory at Biarritz.

At the end of a week in which he was named Top 14 player of the year, Dupont spent the first 52 minutes on the bench watching the two teams struggling to find a way to score.

"None of our five wins have been easy, let alone this one," said Toulouse centre Lucas Tauzin who hailed Dupont's impact.

"Antoine Dupont surprises everyone, every weekend. It's always good to have a player who is able to unlock situations in matches like this."

Full-back Thomas Ramos kicked the only points of a first-half with a penalty.

It was the sole reward for frequent Toulouse assaults on the Biarritz line, often thwarted by their inability to keep the ball in the face of a stubborn defence.

English fly-half Brett Herron levelled with a 45th-minute penalty and, four minutes after Dupont came on, put the home team briefly ahead with a drop goal.

Dupont transformed the match with two moments of inspiration in a two-minute spell.

Following a 58th-minute scrum in midfield, the France international drew the defence with a diagonal dart, before putting the sprinting Tim Nanai Williams into space with a reverse pass.

The Kiwi fly-half fell over before he reached the line but, with no defender near him, was able to crawl over to score.

Two minutes later, Dupont fooled the defence again, this time opting to run, finding a huge hole and sprinting 25 metres to the line.

Not all the Toulouse replacements did as well.

Samoan lock Joe Tekori had been on the field for six minutes when he was shown a red card for tackling hooker Romain Ruffenach by the neck.

Biarritz exploited the extra space when Vincent Martin crossed in the corner with five minutes left, but Herron missed the conversion and Biarritz could not create another chance.

Toulouse held on for a fifth win in five games this season.

Earlier in the day, Bordeaux climbed to second with a 20-15 victory at Lyon.

French international backs Matthieu Jalibert, who also kicked 10 points, and Romain Buros scored tries for the visitors while the home team could manage only five penalties.

Brive celebrated the 100th anniversary of the opening of their stadium by beating last-place Stade Francais 19-12 to climb to third.

Last season's losing finalists La Rochelle continued to stumble, losing 21-11 at Montpellier.

Young Italian fly-half Paolo Garbisi accounted for all the home team's points with seven penalties.

Pau rose to fourth by winning 29-14 at Perpignan.