Top 14 round-up: Late Stephen Brett penalty rescues Clermont
Last Updated: 30/01/17 11:54am
Veteran New Zealand kicker Stephen Brett marked his Clermont debut with a last-minute penalty which allowed the French Top 14 title chasers to escape from Bordeaux with a 23-23 draw on Sunday.
The 31-year-old Brett, who only signed for Clermont earlier this month as cover for France international Camille Lopez and the injured Patricio Fernandez, kept his cool with a 30-metre kick to salvage a draw.
But the result was not enough to move Clermont back to the top of the table after they were deposed by La Rochelle 24 hours earlier.
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Missing six players away on French international duty, as well as influential centre Wesley Fofana, who has been sidelined by a ruptured Achilles tendon, Clermont were 14-0 down after just 18 minutes on Sunday.
Kiwi loose forward Luke Braid put Bordeaux in front with a try after just seven minutes before scrum-half Yann Lesgourgues added a second on 18 minutes.
Simon Hickey kicked the extras on both occasions for a Bordeaux side looking to end a four-match losing streak in the Top 14 while a Brett penalty was all Clermont had to show for their efforts.
Benson Stanley, a former Blues teammate of Brett's, cut the deficit to 14-10 with a 43rd-minute try for Clermont, converted by Brett.
In a match between two teams, who were facing each other for the eighth time in the last two seasons, the momentum kept swinging.
Hickey made it 17-10 with another penalty before a converted score by lock Sitaleki Timani made it 17-17 with half an hour left.
Hickey and Brett exchanged penalties before Ian Madigan booted a 73rd-minute penalty to edge Bordeaux ahead again at 23-20.
With three minutes left, Brett missed his first kick of the day but held his nerve in the dying seconds when he slotted over the equalising penalty for a share of the spoils.
Toulon president fumes
On Saturday, La Rochelle went top with a 23-20 win at big-spending three-time European champions Toulon.
However, after discussions with head coach Mike Ford, it was agreed that the squad would be back at work from February 5, a full 13 days before their next Top 14 clash against Lyon.
It's understood that the players were already due to return to duty on February 8 but even that was too generous for Boudjellal in the immediate aftermath of a defeat which left fifth-placed Toulon 12 points off La Rochelle.
"I was almost expecting to lose this game," he said. "Holidays are cancelled. I don't care about airline tickets or anything like that, it's their problem."
Toulon weren't the only French giants cut down to size on Saturday as defending champions Racing 92 gave up a 19-13 half-time lead to lose 37-25 to Lyon.
Adding to Racing's problems was the sight of All Blacks star Dan Carter limping off in the 32nd minute with what appeared to be a groin injury.
Defeat left Racing in 10th place, six points off the play-offs while Lyon moved 10 points clear of relegation.
Sixth-placed Toulouse failed to capitalise on Toulon's defeat, suffering a shock 20-10 loss to Pau who have now won four matches in succession.
Castres moved into fourth spot with a 38-25 win over Montpellier, the team above them in third.
Second-bottom Grenoble boosted their survival hopes with a bonus-point 44-22 win over struggling Stade Francais.