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Clermont beat Bayonne to go top, La Rochelle win again

By Peter Thompson
Clermont Auvergne celebrate a victory over Bayonne

Clermont Auvergne took over as Top 14 leaders with a 46-27 win over Bayonne after La Rochelle failed to pick up a bonus point in their defeat of Stade Francais on Saturday.

La Rochelle stretched their magnificent winning run to eight games in all competition by seeing off Stade 37-18 in the first game of the day.

That victory at Stade Marcel-Deflandre put them five points clear of Clermont, but Franck Azema’s men responded by blowing bottom side Bayonne away in the first half.

Bayonne simply had no answer to Clermont in the opening 40 minutes, with scrum-half Charlie Cassang helping himself to a double either side of an early try from Aurelien Rougerie and Damian Penaud’s score.

Stephen Brett also booted nine points as Clermont opened up a 29-0 advantage at the break, but Bayonne showed character to score 20 points without reply – including a penalty try and another from Pablo Huete – to make a game of it.

Clermont were not to be denied the bonus-point win they needed to take top spot, as Judicael Cancoriet and Alexandre Lapandry touched down to give them breathing space.

Victor Vito scored an early try, while replacements Jules Le Bail and Levani Botia crossed in the second half as La Rochelle’s long winning streak continued. Brock James racked up 22 points from the tee for the hosts, who show no signs of falling off the pace.

Bryan Habana was among the try-scorers in Toulon’s 31-17 win over Lyon, while Pau beat Grenoble 39-22 and Leone Nakarawa scored two second-half tries in Racing 92’s 33-25 home win over Brive. 



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mitch 40 minutes ago
The Wallabies team Joe Schmidt must pick to win back Bledisloe Cup

Rodda will be a walk up starter at lock. Frost if you analyse his dominance has little impact and he’s a long way from being physical enough, especially when you compare to Rodda and the work he does. He was quite poor at the World Cup in his lack of physicality. Between Rodda and Skelton we would have locks who can dominate the breakdown and in contact. Frost is maybe next but Schmidt might go for a more physical lock who does their core work better like Ryan or LSL. Swain is no chance unless there’s a load of injuries. Pollard hasn’t got the scrum ability yet to be considered. Nasser dominated him when they went toe to toe and really showed him up. Picking Skelton effects who can play 6 and 8. Ideally Valetini would play 6 as that’s his best position and Wilson at 8 but that’s not ideal for lineout success. Cale isn’t physical enough yet in contact and defence but is the best backrow lineout jumper followed by Wright, Hanigan and Swinton so unfortunately Valetini probably will start at 8 with Wright or Hanigan at 6. Wilson on the bench, he’s got too much quality not to be in the squad. Paisami is leading the way at 12 but Hamish Stewart is playing extremely well also and his ball carrying has improved significantly. Beale is also another option based on the weekend. Beale is class but he’s also the best communicator of any Australian backline player and that can’t be underestimated, he’ll be in the mix.

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