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Unbeaten Toulouse come good to crush Pau

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Toulouse’s French prop Cyril Baille runs with the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match against Pau on Saturday. AFP

Unbeaten Toulouse come good to crush Pau

League leaders Toulouse remained unbeaten after six games as they put in a sparkling second-half performance to crush Pau 38-10 in the Top 14 on Saturday.

Pau had led 7-0 at halftime thanks to an intercept try by Thibault Debaes, who also converted.

But the second-half saw a Toulouse side skippered by France scrum-half Antoine Dupont put Pau to the sword.

Veteran Maxime Medard crossed for Toulouse’s first try, before Anthony Jelonch notched up a double either side of a try by Australian lock Rory Arnold.

Cyril Baille crossed for the team’s fifth try, Romain Ntamack converting all five as well as hitting a penalty to ensure not only Toulouse’s 10th successive Top 14 win stretching back to May but also a bonus-point victory that extends their lead atop the table over Bordeaux-Begles to seven points.

“Our first half wasn’t at the level of which we are capable,” was the blunt assessment of Toulouse coach Ugo Mola.

“The second half wasn’t pretty, but at least we did what was required. It’s not a match that’ll be etched in Toulouse memories, but it’s the five points that are important.”

Jelonch, who captained France during their summer tour to Australia, said the second-half performance had been a “great reaction”.

“That first half is a warning and we need to focus on that second half for the remainder of the season,” the backrow forward added.

Struggling La Rochelle, high fliers domestically and on the continent last season, earlier beat Castres 29-10 for just the second win of their Top 14 campaign.

La Rochelle lost to Toulouse in both the Top 14 and European Cup finals last season, but instead of taking the next step they have gone backwards this time under new head coach Ronan O’Gara, the former Ireland playmaker.

Defeat at Montpellier the previous weekend meant they had won just one of their five opening games and sat 13th in the 14-team table.

But O’Gara could take heart from the win over Castres, France internationals Pierre Bougarit and Gregory Alldritt crossing for tries in each half as fly-half Pierre Popelin converted both and also chipped in with five penalties for a personal tally of 19 points.

“The loss against Montpellier was unacceptable,” said O’Gara. “But this was good.

“We showed a better side, but it’s not exactly that which I want to show. We were aggressive and committed in our game plan, but we need to find more rhythm and speed.

“But our first job was to beat Castres, and we did that,” he said, adding however, that it would not go down in the annals as “a reference point”.

“We’re playing some good stuff but I’m waiting to see how some players train . . . because we’re still a little lacking on both tactical and technical levels.”

In other early games, Lyon thumped Biarritz 40-5. Bordeaux-Begles edged Montpellier 27-23 and Racing 92 snuck past Perpignan 17-14.

In Saturday’s late game, three-time European champions Toulon defeated Brive 13-9.

On Sunday, bottom-placed Stade Francais take on ASM Clermont Auvergne.

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