Bordeaux-Begles scored two tries in the last eight minutes to earn a 37-19 win over Top 14 rivals Lyon that moved them above their opponents at the league summit.

Lyon came into Saturday's match at Stade Chaban-Delmas with a two-point lead at the top of the table but they now trail by three after Bordeaux landed a bonus-point triumph.

The match was hanging in the balance with the hosts 20-19 ahead going into the closing stages, but Seta Tamanivalu and Santiago Cordero scored pivotal converted tries in quick succession.

Earlier in the contest, Fiji star Semi Radradra had emphatically bounced back from a spell in the sin-bin by scoring a double for Bordeaux as they recovered from an early deficit, Lyon having crossed for the first try of the match.

But while two penalties apiece from Charlie Ngatai and Jonathan Wisniewski kept the visitors within striking distance in a match that was 10-10 at the interval, Mickael Ivaldi's 17th-minute effort proved their only try.

It was a welcome return to form for Christophe Urios' Bordeaux side after their loss to defending champions Toulouse last time out.

Elsewhere, La Rochelle failed to keep hold of third place as they fell to a last-gasp 21-20 loss away to struggling Stade Francais.

Facundo Bosch appeared to have given the visitors a come-from-behind victory, but Stade Francais' Nicolas Sanchez crossed in the fourth minute of additional time after Jules Plisson had been sent to the sin-bin.

La Rochelle drop below Toulon, whose wing Daniel Ikpefan dotted down twice in a comfortable 34-17 home win over Brive.

Clermont Auvergne are sixth after they stormed back with 10 points in the final seven minutes to grab a 23-20 win at Pau. 

In another close encounter, Montpellier held off a late Bayonne fightback to record a 31-29 home victory, Nemani Nadolo scoring a hat-trick.

Lyon quickly put their European Champions Cup disappointment behind them to return to the Top 14 summit with a comfortable home victory over Toulon on Saturday.

The domestic league leaders failed to advance through their European pool after losing to Leinster and Northampton Saints across the previous two weekends.

But a Top 14 title charge is very much on thanks to their 11th win of the campaign, a 27-12 success as Toulon were held try-less.

Xavier Mignot crossed for Lyon's opener after eight minutes, but Anthony Belleau kicked four first-half penalties to keep Toulon in the match with a narrow half-time lead.

But after Rudi Wulf and then Toby Arnold added further Lyon tries, victory never looked in serious doubt.

Meanwhile, La Rochelle defeated Montpellier 35-30 thanks to a hat-trick from Arthur Retiere in a 15-minute spell either side of half-time.

Retiere crossed in the 32nd, 36th and 46th minutes to put La Rochelle in complete control, their lead 32-11 inside the final half-hour.

But they had to withstand a tense finish after Johan Goosen, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Nemani Nadolo all crossed while Geoffrey Doumayrou was sent off.

Racing 92 had no difficulties as they crushed Castres on the road, Marc-Antoine Rallier's 48th-minute dismissal ending all hopes of a home fightback in a 27-0 reverse.

Brive defeated Pau 33-26 in far more dramatic circumstances, though, as Thomas Laranjeira produced a stunning match-winning turn.

The full-back scored 28 of his side's 33 points, including two tries in the closing stages to down shell-shocked Pau, who had led from the 26th minute until the 77th.

In Saturday's late game, Stade Francais made a strong start but succumbed to a 29-19 loss at Clermont Auvergne.

Bordeaux-Begles have the chance to move back above Lyon and return to the top of the standings when they play away to holders Toulouse on Sunday.

Ulster secured a European Champions Cup quarter-final spot with a 22-15 defeat of Bath, while Northampton Saints and Glasgow Warriors stayed in the hunt for qualification on Saturday.

Clermont Auvergne sealed top spot in Pool 3 with a 26-19 victory at Harlequins, but Ulster knew a defeat of Bath would see them through as one of three best-placed runners-up.

The Pro14 side got the job done in the second half after the two sides were level at 7-7 at the break, Robert Baloucoune and Will Addison going over to add to a first-half try from Marcell Coetzee before Billy Burns was on target with a penalty.

Tries from Ruaridh McConnochie and Ross Batty, who was later red-carded for a no-arms tackle on John Cooney, were not enough for Bath to end the competition on a high note.

Northampton did all they could to advance as runners-up with a 36-24 victory at Top 14 high-flyers Lyon in Pool 1.

The Saints will go progress if either Saracens or Gloucester fail to pick up maximum points wins on Sunday after Mike Haywood, Teimana Harrison, Cobus Reinach, George Furbank and James Fish touched down in a bonus-point triumph at Matmut Stade de Gerland.

Glasgow must hope defending champions Sarries, whose relegation from the Premiership at the of the season for persistent salary-cap breaches was announced on Saturday, and Gloucester slip up after demolishing Sale Sharks 45-7 in Pool 2.

Leone Nakarawa set the tone early on with one of six Glasgow tries at the AJ Bell Stadium, where Adam Hastings scored 15 points from the tee.

Leinster made it six victories out of six in Pool 1 with an 18-0 defeat of Benetton Treviso, while Sam Simmonds grabbed a double as Pool 2 winners Exeter Chiefs saw off La Rochelle 33-14 at Sandy Park.

Beleaguered Sarries host Racing 92 on the final day of pool matches reeling from the announcement that they will drop of out of the Premiership, while Gloucester travel to Toulouse.

La Rochelle bolstered their hopes of progressing in the European Champions Cup with a hard-earned 30-23 victory over Sale Sharks.

The Top 14 side were trailing 16-15 at half-time but then capitalised on indiscipline from Sale, who had Chris Ashton sent to the sin bin and Valery Morozov sent off midway through the second half.

Tries from Geoffrey Doumayrou and Gregory Alldritt turned the match around in the French outfit's favour as they nudged up to second place in Pool Two, ahead of Glasgow Warriors.

In Friday's other encounter, Harlequins claimed the bragging rights over Bath with a 25-19 triumph at The Rec.

Brett Herron's 10 points with the boot proved to be crucial, with his penalty 11 minutes from time helping see out the win after Jackson Willison's try brought Bath within three points.

The victory moves Quins up to third place in Pool Three, though they trail second-placed Clermont by seven points. Bath sit at the foot of the group after five straight defeats.

Lyon were grateful to Xavier Chiocci for a late try as they scraped past Agen, avoiding an upset in Top 14 action on Saturday.

Visitors Lyon are second in the table, with Agen second from bottom, but failed to score in the first half, trailing 12-0 at the break.

Jonathan Pelissie was sent to the sin bin as he conceded an early penalty try, before Andres Zafra Tarazona crossed, and Lyon ended the half with Liam Gill having also seen yellow.

The high-flying away team were still behind heading into the closing stages, despite a pair of Jonathan Wisniewski penalties.

But Chiocci went over in the 75th minute, and Wisniewski kept his nerve with the conversion to seal a tense 13-12 victory.

Lyon still trail Bordeaux Begles, though, after the Top 14 leaders brushed aside Bayonne 22-3.

Bordeaux were in control from the first minute when Jean-Baptiste Dubie scored, and tries followed from Kane Douglas and Remi Lamerat before a scoreless second half.

Jules Plisson had a try, four conversions and three penalties for third-placed La Rochelle in a 44-13 success at Pau.

Racing 92 are back in fourth and beat Clermont Auvergne 27-19, as Teddy Iribaren similarly starred with a try, three conversions and a pair of penalties.

Elsewhere, Thomas Darmon's 75th-minute try meant a late Brive response mattered little, Montpellier winning 29-26.

Toulouse and Toulon lost ground on the leading two as Bordeaux-Begles returned to the Top 14 summit at the expense of Lyon on Sunday.

Reigning champions Toulouse surrendered a comfortable lead to draw 13-13 at home to Toulon, while Bordeaux emerged 27-23 victors at Pau despite a late scare.

A Thomas Ramos penalty got Toulouse off the mark and the full-back converted Sebastien Bezy's 14th-minute try to send them into half-time in control.

Another three points from the tee courtesy of Ramos put the hosts 13 ahead, but Louis Carbonel reduced the arrears when he crossed in the 52nd minute.

France scrum-half Antoine Dupont made his return from a back injury sustained at the Rugby World Cup and helped Toulon salvage a draw, with a pair of Anthony Belleau penalties ensuring the spoils were shared.

The result was a boost for Bordeaux, who scored the first try of their game against Pau despite being down to 14 men after Remi Lamerat was shown a yellow card.

Scott Higginbotham was the man who crossed, before Santiago Cordero touched down twice – the second while Dominiko Waqaniburotu was in the sin bin.

Bordeaux took a 14-point lead when Tom Taylor was shown a yellow card and conceded a penalty try in the 60th minute, with Antoine Hastoy converting a Daniel Ramsey try and adding a three-pointer from the tee at the death to ensure Pau left with a losing bonus point.

Clermont Auvergne were temporarily reduced to 13 men in the second half of their 39-22 triumph over Castres.

Sebastien Vahaamahina was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements and Anthony Jelonch darted over after Rory Kockott took the penalty quickly.

Sitaleki Timani responded to Kockott touching his head as he went to celebrate with his team-mates by striking the Castres scrum-half in the face. After the ensuing melee, Kockott was sent to the sin bin and Timani was shown a red card.

Castres used their numerical advantage to run in another two tries, but Morgan Parra and Greig Laidlaw kept them at bay from the tee.

La Rochelle lost to Bordeaux last weekend but returned to winning ways at home to struggling Agen, running in six tries in a 40-8 triumph.

Peni Ravai sent Bordeaux-Begles to the Top 14 summit as his late try secured a 20-15 victory over La Rochelle on Sunday.

A club-record crowd of 38,503 saw the match at Matmut Atlantique hang in the balance at 15-15 going into the final 10 minutes.

However, Fijian prop Ravai was driven over in the 72nd minute as Bordeaux pushed for the victory that at one stage had looked a formality.

They led 12-0 after half an hour behind four penalties from Matthieu Jalibert, only for Jules Plisson to hit back with four successful kicks of his own to tie the match.

Jalibert nudged Bordeaux ahead again in the 55th minute but Plisson soon replied again, setting up the close finish from which Ravai emerged as the hero.

Bordeaux head coach Christophe Urios, quoted on the team's Twitter page, said: "We can say it was a perfect afternoon, even if we complicated the task.

"I'm going to have a very, very good Christmas. Now what is important is [the December 29 match against] Pau."

Bordeaux nudged ahead of Lyon, who were beaten on Saturday at Castres and fall to second place.

Pau had debutant Ben Smith sent off as they suffered a 21-18 defeat away to Stade Francais.

The All Blacks great was dismissed after 50 minutes for leading with his elbow when challenging opposition hooker Lucas Da Silva, landing a blow around the neck area.

In the late game, Toulon nudged up to third place after winning 41-19 at home against Clermont Auvergne.

Saracens breathed new life into their European Champions Cup title defence as the Vunipola brothers starred in a 15-6 win over Munster at Allianz Park.

The reigning champions, who have lifted the trophy in three of the past four seasons, had won just one of their opening three games and came into the game trailing Pool 4 leaders Racing 92 by 11 points.

They were 6-3 behind against Munster early in the second half when a melee ensued after Jamie George appeared to be enraged by a conversation with a member of Munster's staff.

The brawl spilled over onto the advertising hoardings and, once it had subsided, Munster got a penalty which JJ Hanrahan missed.

Saracens soon came alive as Billy Vunipola, with three men converging on him, flipped a brilliant pass out to Sean Maitland to score before Mako Vunipola dotted down eight minutes from time to leave Sarries just one point behind second-placed Munster.

Leinster, the side Sarries beat in last season's final, made it four wins from four in Pool 1 with a dominant 50-21 victory over Northampton as Garry Ringrose scored a hat-trick.

The Ireland centre went over twice in the opening six minutes before Tadhg Furlong and Dave Kearney earned Leinster a bonus point prior to half-time.

Ringrose completed his treble after James Lowe had scored, with Caelan Doris crossing for Leinster's seventh and final try.

Premiership leaders Northampton - whose try-scorers were Dan Biggar, Ollie Sleightholme and Ahsee Tuala - now trail Leinster by 10 points with two games remaining.

Robin Copeland's 81st-minute try earned Connacht a 27-24 success over Gloucester, while Marco Lazzaroni's late score proved the difference in Benetton Treviso's 25-22 triumph against Lyon.

Toulouse beat Montpellier 26-18 while La Rochelle edged past Glasgow Warriors 12-7.

 

Leinster made it 10 wins from 10 to start the season as they routed Northampton Saints 43-16 in the European Champions Cup to move five points clear at the top of Pool 1.

The Irish province, beaten in last season's final by Saracens, ran in seven tries to beat Premiership leaders Saints, who came into this game having won both of their first two games in this competition.

Three Dan Biggar penalties, added to a try from Ahsee Tuala, meant Northampton led 16-14 with two minutes remaining in the first half.

However, Andrew Porter dotted down for Leinster's third try, following earlier scores from James Lowe and Rhys Ruddock, to ensure the visitors were leading 19-16 at the interval.

Northampton then failed to score a second-half point, while Cian Healy, Ross Byrne, Luke McGrath and Ed Byrne all crossed in Leinster's handsome victory.

Ulster moved top of Pool 3 as John Cooney's 79th-minute penalty earned them a 25-24 success over Harlequins.

Both sides scored three tries apiece, Elia Elia going over twice for Quins, but Cooney kept his cool from the 10-metre line to seal the win for Ulster.

Defending champions Saracens were beaten 10-3 by Munster to suffer their second loss in Pool 4.

Peter O'Mahony crossed for the game's only try in the 31st minute, with all the points scored prior to the interval, and the only sour moment for Munster came in the 82nd minute when Arno Botha was dismissed for dangerous play.

Teddy Thomas accounted for two of Racing 92's six tries in their 40-19 rout of Ospreys, who were left to rue Dan Evans' red card after just 37 seconds.

The full-back was given his marching orders for kicking Thomas in the face as he collected a high ball, and Ospreys never recovered.

Elsewhere, Lyon beat Benetton Treviso 28-0, while Glasgow Warriors edged past La Rochelle 27-24.

Montpellier ran in five tries in a 33-8 rout of Top 14 leaders Lyon as Bordeaux-Begles closed the gap at the summit by edging past Racing 92. 

Lyon - beaten in the semi-finals last season - had won eight of their first nine games in this campaign but they were blown away by Montpellier, who were 21-0 up at half-time thanks to tries from Nemani Nadolo, Bismarck Du Plessis and Louis Picamoles.

The visitors finally got on the board with a Jonathan Wisniewski penalty in the 51st minute but further scores from Nico Janse van Rensburg and Youri Delhommel increased Montpellier's lead before Xavier Mignot crossed for a consolation late on.

Bordeaux took advantage of Lyon's slip up with a 34-30 victory over Racing as Matthieu Jalibert provided 14 points from the boot.

It was announced this week that Semi Radradra will join Premiership side Bristol Bears for next season but the Fiji international showed he was not distracted by his upcoming move with two of Bordeaux's four tries.

Sergio Parisse scored Toulon's try in a 19-9 success over Pau, while Brock James and Jules Plisson kicked five penalties between them as La Rochelle defeated Castres 22-13.

Clermont Auvergne were also victorious, a strong second-half display helping them to a 30-13 triumph over Agen.

Pierre Bourgarit has been hit with a six-week suspension for his eye-gouge on Tom Curry in La Rochelle's European Champions Cup loss to Sale Sharks.

Bourgarit was sent off for the offence, which occurred late in Sunday's first half at the AJ Bell Stadium, where Sale triumphed 25-15.

The La Rochelle hooker inexplicably put his hand into the 21-year-old's eyes during a grapple and was dismissed.

Explaining the length of the ban, a statement from the independent disciplinary committee read: "It was decided that the offence was at the top end of World Rugby's sanctions for contact with the eye area, however, it was also decided that there was no reason to consider a sanction greater than the minimum entry point of 12 weeks.

"There were no aggravating factors, and taking into account the player's guilty plea, clear disciplinary record and timely expression of remorse, the committee reduced the sanction by the maximum of 50 per cent before imposing a six-week suspension."

Bourgarit, who is entitled to appeal, will be free to return on January 6.

Meanwhile, Montpellier's Jacques du Plessis is set to serve a five-week ban after he was sent off for elbowing Gloucester's Gerbrandt Grobler, and Ulster's Will Addison has received a four-week sanction for a dangerous tackle on Clermont's Paul Jedrasiak.

Pierre Bourgarit was sent off for eye-gouging Tom Curry as Sale Sharks beat La Rochelle 25-15 and Montpellier clung on for a European Champions Cup win over Gloucester despite Jacques du Plessis' dismissal.

Curry was man of the match in his first appearance of the season for Sale on Sunday, three weeks after playing in England's Rugby World Cup final defeat to South Africa.

Yet the flanker was fortunate to escape without suffering damage when hooker Bourgarit inexplicably put his hand into the 21-year-old's eyes during a grapple late in the first half at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Bourgarit's early exit left La Rochelle down to 13 men, with Remi Leroux in the sin bin and the Sharks leading 10-7 courtesy of an early converted Rohan Janse van Rensburg try and AJ MacGinty's penalty.

Vincent Rattez touched down at the other end midway through the half and although Brock James levelled from the tee just after the break, La Rochelle's indiscipline proved to be costly.

Sale were awarded a penalty try as La Rochelle had Dany Priso sin-binned, before Chris Ashton scored his 40th Champions Cup five-pointer. World Cup winner Faf de Klerk made a winning return to Sale duty, with Jeremy Sinzelle's reply for La Rochelle coming too late to prevent the Sharks from going second in Pool 2.

Du Plessis was given his marching orders for an elbow on Gerbrandt Grobler in the second half as Montpellier edged out Gloucester 30-27 for their first win of the competition at the GGL Stadium.

Montpellier were 27-17 up when Du Plessis had a rush of blood and the lock would have been a relieved man when Premiership side Gloucester ran out of time to secure a first Pool 5 win.

Jan Serfontein, Caleb Timu and Nemani Nadolo crossed in the first half for the Top 14 outfit, with Matt Banahan and Joe Simpson touching down for the Cherry and Whites in a tense second half after Callum Braley got on the scoresheet four minutes prior to the break.

Garry Ringrose scored a hat-trick as last season's runners-up Leinster beat Benetton 33-19 and Clermont Auvergne thrashed Harlequins in the European Champions Cup on Saturday.

Leinster were beaten by Saracens in the final in May, but the 2018 Champions Cup holders started their quest to regain the trophy with a bonus-point Pool 1 win at the RDS Arena.

Ringrose was the star of the show, the Ireland centre crossing twice inside the first 14 minutes and completing his treble after the break.

Ronan Kelleher also touched down on his European debut before Johnny Sexton rounded off a slick move early in the second half, the Ireland fly-half also adding six points with the boot.

Tries from Dean Budd, Epalahame Faiva and Luca Sperandio were in vain as Benetton were second best in the all-Pro 14 encounter.

Challenge Cup holders Clermont hammered Quins 53-21 in the Pool 2 clash at Stade Marcel Michelin.

Alivereti Raka and Peceli Yato grabbed doubles as the Top 14 side scored seven tries, blowing Paul Gustard's side away.

John Cooney made amends for an incredible missed penalty by slotting over the winning points from the tee to give Ulster a 17-16 success in the other Pool 2 match at Bath.

Exeter Chiefs are the early Pool 2 leaders following a 31-12 bonus-point win at La Rochelle, while DTH Van Der Merwe scored Glasgow Warriors' only try in a 13-7 home triumph over Sale Sharks.

Munster opened their European campaign with a 32-13 Pool 4 defeat of the Ospreys on their travels, Keith Earls and Andrew Conway among their four try-scorers.

Teddy Thomas scored a hat-trick as Racing 92 beat struggling derby rivals Stade Francais 25-9, while Top 14 leaders Lyon thumped La Rochelle on Sunday.

Stade remain rooted to the bottom of the table after Thomas bagged a treble at Stade Jean-Bouin to move Racing up three places to 10th and pile more pressure on coach Heyneke Meyer.

Meyer was backed by Stade owner Hans-Peter Wild on the eve of the Paris derby, but a seventh defeat from nine top-flight matches will lead to more questions over his future.

Wing Thomas took a brilliant pass from Virimi Vakatawa before scoring the opening try and had a double late in the first half, though a second Nicolas Sanchez penalty reduced Racing's lead to 15-6 at the break.

Maxime Machenaud's second penalty gave Racing a nine-point advantage and France flyer Thomas crossed for a third time right at the end to secure the bonus point, much to the fury of Racing fans.

Lyon are five points clear at the summit after a 45-17 battering of La Rochelle.

Baptiste Couilloud dotted down in both halves, while Dylan Cretin, Charlie Ngatai and Loann Goujon also crossed in an emphatic victory for the leaders.

Bordeaux-Begles could lose ground on Top 14 leaders Lyon after slipping to their second defeat in three matches at Brive.

Mahamadou Diaby's ninth-minute dismissal proved decisive as Christophe Urios' Bordeaux were beaten 30-9, the extra man proving telling for the hosts in the final 15 minutes.

Brive's lead was only 16-9 going into the final quarter of an hour but Julien Blanc and Matthieu Voisin went over to make the points safe on Saturday.

Lyon have a four-point lead over Bordeaux and can stretch that with a win over Clermont Auvergne on Sunday.

Bayonne could have closed the gap on the top two but instead fell to a 20-9 loss at the hands of Toulon.

Defending champions Toulouse's poor start to the season continued at Montpellier – who ran out 33-22 winners thanks to a double from Gabriel Ngandebe and 15 points from the boot of Anthony Bouthier.

Elsewhere, Pau beat Castres 37-24 while struggling Paris clubs Racing 92 and Stade Francais remain in the bottom two after defeats to La Rochelle and Agen respectively.

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