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TOP14 round-up: La Rochelle extend their lead & Bayonne relegated

La Rochelle's French centre Alexis Bales offloads out of contact
Image: La Rochelle head to Lyon next week as they look to continue their impressive run

Leaders La Rochelle extended their lead at the top of the table with a 16-5 win at home while Bayonne’s relegation from the league has been confirmed.

There are just three rounds left of the regular season before the Barrages and the semi-finals so every point gained or lost may prove to be critical

While La Rochelle are 14 points clear at the top of the table there's just four table points between Castres in fifth and Bordeaux-Begles in eleventh.

Starting at the top, initially La Rochelle surprised many but their 16-5 win in Round 23 pushed them to an unbeaten run of 11 matches.

The contest against Bordeaux-Begles at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre was an attritional match in which Kini Murimurivalu scored the hosts' only try on the half-hour mark.

Brock James' boot added the rest of the points to continue their reign at the top of the table.

Morgan Parra hits a penalty kick during the French Top 14 rugby union match
Image: Clermont will look to bounce back against Grenoble in Round 24

At the Stade Marcel-Michelin, second-in-the-table Clermont surprisingly found themselves on the wrong side of the result as they lost 21-26 to Brive.

Clermont went behind very early after Petrus Hauman scored in the opening minute but re-grouped well to lead 14-12 at the break.

Top 14 Rugby Union Highlights

The visitors stormed out of the blocks in the second forty and put two quick converted tries on the board. Morgan Parra touched down for the hosts with four minutes to go and that secured their losing bonus-point.

Another side that prevailed away from home were Lyon as they pipped Castres by a single-point at the Stade Pierre Antoine and dented the latter's play-off ambitions.

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The visitors stretched into a 12-point lead after the opening quarter before David Smith opened Castres' account. Ben Urdipaletta's penalty cut the hosts' deficit to 10-12 at the break.

Urdipaletta put Castres ahead in the second before Napolioni Nalaga's try proved to be enough for Lyon to prevail despite another penalty from Urdipaletta.

Jean Monribot vies with Stade Francais'  winger Julien Arias
Image: Bayonne have a points difference of -380 this season

Bayonne's relegation was confirmed as they went down 16-32 to Stade Français Paris.

Pro D2 awaits for the side that have won just five games all season but before then they must still face Montpellier, Grenoble and Toulouse.

At the Altrad Stadium Montpellier thrashed Grenoble 54-14 and scored eight tries by eight different players in the process.

On Sunday Racing 92 overcame Pau at the Stade Yves-Du-Manoir by 34-32 but they were pushed all the way.

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Ben Tameifuna produced this majestic pass to set up Juan Imhoff

The hosts had amassed what looked to be an extremely comfortable 34-8 lead before four second-half tries from Pau made it an tense and tight finish.

In the final game of the weekend Richard Cockerill started his tenure as head coach of Toulon with a 33-23 victory over Toulouse in Marseille.

Ma'a Nonu scored the decisive try on 67 minutes to take the game away from Toulouse. It was converted by Leigh Halfpenny who finished the game with three conversion and three penalises to his name.

Toulouse had the final say on the scoreboard through Census Johnston but it was a disappointing day for the side that are down in twelfth position.

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