Patricio Fernandez kicked 19 points as Lyon battled to a 29-20 victory over Racing 92 in the Top 14 on Sunday.

Second-place Lyon responded to losing a top-of-the-table clash to Bordeaux Begles last time out, with Fernandez chosen to play at fly-half in place of Jonathan Wisniewski in response to that defeat.

The number 10 slotted five penalties and added the extras to tries from Xavier Mignot and Baptiste Couilloud to justify that decision, with Lyon now four points behind Bordeaux.

Racing made life difficult for the hosts at the Stade de Gerland and took the lead when Yoan Tanga Mangene went over after 20 minutes, while Francois Trinh Duc's score set up a frantic finish before Fernandez's three-pointer four minutes from the end.

Last season's champions Toulouse outclassed Montpellier 25-7 at home in Sunday's other fixture.

Zack Holmes, Pierre Pages, Lucas Tauzin and Matthis Lebel all grabbed tries for the home side, with Nemani Nadolo responding for Montpellier.

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.

Leinster maintained their 100 per cent European Champions Cup record with a 42-14 thrashing of Lyon, while Racing 92 left it late to beat Munster and reach the quarter-finals on Sunday.

Last year's runners-up Leinster cemented their spot at the top of Pool 1 with a bonus-point triumph on a day which saw second-placed Northampton Saints produce a comeback to beat Benetton Treviso.

Leinster struggled to shake off Lyon in the first half and only led by seven points at the break, but the Pro14 champions scored 21 points without reply in the second half at the RDS Arena.

Dave Kearney touched down twice, with Josh van der Flier, Max Deegan, Sean Cronin and Andrew Porter getting in on the act in a six-try hammering from Leo Cullen's men.

Leinster have now won nine consecutive pool games for the first time in the competition.

Saints made far harder work of a vital 33-20 bonus-point victory over Treviso, the Premiership side having fallen 17-12 behind heading into the final 25 minutes.

The returning Harry Mallinder, back after more than a year out with a knee injury, got the home side up and running with a try inside five minutes.

However, the rest of the first half belonged to the Italians, who were ahead courtesy of Tommaso Benvenuti's smart score following an interception.

Needing a win to keep their visitors at bay in the race for second spot, Northampton finally sprung to life after the interval as Henry Taylor, Francois van Wyk, Fraser Dingwall and Andy Symons all crossed.

Teddy Iribaren's inventive long-range pass to set up a try for Teddy Thomas was an eye-catching highlight from Racing's dramatic 39-22 Pool 4 home win against Munster.

A second try for recalled France wing Thomas late on was followed by scores from the brilliant Virimi Vakatawa and Juan Imhoff, seeing Racing through and putting Munster down to third with a decisive clash against Saracens to come in the final round of pool matches.

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.

Lyon bounced back from a miserable run of form to thump Bayonne 52-9 and move into first place in the Top 14 table.

Last season's semi-finalists had lost five of their last six games in all competitions, including a dire defeat away to Castres last weekend.

But Lyon rebounded with style on Saturday, scoring an unanswered 35 points in the second half as they ran in seven tries in a one-sided match.

Hendrik Roodt dotted down twice, with Pierre-Louis Barassi, Dylan Cretin and Jean-Marcellin Buttin also going over in a dominant second-half display.

Lyon had earlier raced into a 17-0 lead inside 12 minutes with Patrick Sobela and Charlie Ngatai crossing, the hosts keeping their opponents at bay during two periods down with 14 men after yellow cards for Killian Geraci and Rudi Wulf.

Bayonne, who had Mariano Galarza in the sin bin when Cretin and Buttin scored late on, only had three Romain Barthelemy penalties to show for their efforts.

The bonus-point win moved Lyon two clear of Bordeaux-Begles, who have the chance to return to top spot when they play Pau on Sunday.

Elsewhere, Racing 92 made it four straight wins and jumped up from 10th to fifth with an entertaining 44-20 win at Brive.

Finn Russell scored the first of four first-half tries for Racing, who led by 16 at the interval - Camille Chat claiming a double.

They extended their advantage with two more scores in the second half, Teddy Thomas and Brice Dulin going over.

Bottom-of-the-table Stade Francais followed up their win over Pau last time out with a battling 20-20 draw at Montpellier.

Handre Pollard looked like he had given hosts Montpellier victory with a 68th-minute try, which he converted himself, just after Stade's Sekou Macalou had been sent to the sin bin.

But Joris Segonds was on target with a late penalty for the visitors, who are now just a point behind Agen.

Bordeaux Begles will have the chance to move into first place in Top 14 after leaders Lyon slipped up at Castres, while Handre Pollard had a difficult debut for Montpellier.

Lyon suffered their second successive league defeat as they went down 29-12 on Saturday, meaning Bordeaux will be top should they overcome La Rochelle on Sunday.

Depleted to 14 men twice in the first half, Lyon were 12-3 down by the interval, with Castres – who had two men sent to the sin-bin themselves after the break – scoring tries from Geoffrey Palis and Thomas Combezou before running in another two in the second half, Rory Kockott and Jody Jenneker touching down, to wrap up the points.

Montpellier failed to close the gap on the top two, as they were edged out 29-25 by Racing 92.

It was a frustrating day for debutant Pollard, who played a pivotal role in South Africa's Rugby World Cup triumph but has been sidelined with a facial injury, as the fly-half missed two penalties and a conversion.

Toulouse took advantage of Montpellier's defeat by beating struggling Agen 13-8 to move into third place with what was a third straight win.

Elsewhere, Brive and Bayonne shared the points in a 6-6 draw in Saturday's other fixture.

Leinster have dismissed the suggestion Johnny Sexton could leave at the end of the season for a return to the Top 14.

Reports in France have claimed Top 14 leaders Lyon are hoping to bring former Racing 92 fly-half Sexton in to replace Jonathan Wisniewski, who is said to be considering retirement.

However, Leinster senior coach Stuart Lancaster moved to put an end to the speculation on Monday.

"There is certainly nothing from our end," said Lancaster.

"Johnny is contracted to Leinster and Ireland until 2021, so the only conversation I have had with Johnny is how can he get better, how he can help Leinster get better and how can he play for Ireland

"I can't see any merit in that [moving]."

Sexton is sidelined with a knee injury and Leinster head coach Leo Cullen said last week he is unlikely to return to action until the start of Ireland's Six Nations campaign.

Leinster became the first side to qualify for the European Champions Cup quarter-finals by defeating Northampton Saints 50-21 in Dublin on Saturday.

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.

Saracens rebounded from an opening defeat to Racing 92 by hammering a depleted Ospreys side 44-3 in the European Champions Cup.

The holders have endured a miserable time of it lately after being hit with a mammoth £5.36million fine and 35-point Premiership deduction for breaching salary cap rules during the past three seasons.

But Elliot Daly impressed on his debut and England team-mates Mako Vunipola and George Kruis returned in a six-try showing.

Jack Singleton, Alex Lewington and Rotimi Segun (2) all touched down before a penalty try and a score from Richard Barrington put an Ospreys side devoid of Alun Wyn Jones, Justin Tipuric, Gareth Anscombe and George North to the sword.

Elsewhere in Pool 4, Finn Russell scored a superb nutmeg try as part of a fine display but Racing 92 played out a 21-21 draw at Munster.

Andrew Conway's 75th-minute score and J.J. Hanrahan's excellent conversion earned a point for the hosts at Thomond Park.

Stuart Hogg was on the winning side against former employees Glasgow Warriors as Exeter Chiefs triumphed 34-18 to make it two from two in Pool 2.

Henry Slade, Jonny Hill, Sam Simmonds and Tom O'Flaherty all scored tries, while Nick Grigg and George Turner registered for the Warriors.

Top 14 leaders Lyon lost for the second successive European game as last season's losing finalists Leinster scrapped to a 13-6 win on their travels – Max Deegan's first-half score ultimately proving crucial.

The other match in Pool 1 saw Northampton Saints record a thrilling 35-32 triumph at Benetton Treviso.

Dan Biggar nailed a last-gasp penalty to complete a fine fightback for Saints, who scored 17 second-half points – Ollie Sleightholme touching down and Tom Collins celebrating a second try of the game.

Connacht enjoyed a winning return to Europe's premier competition with an opening victory over Montpellier but were brought crashing back to earth in Pool 5, suffering a 32-17 defeat at Toulouse.

Rounding out the action, Harlequins edged out domestic rivals Bath 15-9 to get up and running in Pool 3.

Saracens' European Rugby Champions Cup defence started with a comprehensive defeat at Racing 92, while Dan Biggar kicked Northampton Saints to victory over Top 14 high-flyers Lyon on Sunday.

Sarries, who are reportedly not going to appeal against a 35-point domestic deduction for an alleged breach of salary cap rules, missed the quality of their England contingent still yet to return from Rugby World Cup duty in a 30-10 defeat in Paris.

Virimi Vakatawa broke through a gap in just the ninth minute to get Racing underway and Teddy Thomas, fresh off a hat-trick in last week's 25-9 beating of Stade Francais, squirmed over to stretch the lead.

Alex Lozowski finished for Saracens early in the second half after Nick Tompkins stole the ball when Finn Russell knocked on but the Scotland fly-half quickly made amends with a wonderful jinking try and Wenceslas Lauret completed a convincing Pool 4 success.

Biggar was making his first appearance since suffering World Cup semi-final heartache with Wales and was in fine form with the boot as Northampton earned a potentially priceless Pool 1 win.

The fly-half kicked 20 points, including six penalties, in the 25-14 beating of Top 14 leaders Lyon, who were outclassed at Franklin's Gardens.

Rory Hutchinson scored Saints' only try in the first half and Lyon missed out on a losing bonus point despite two second-half scores from Thibaut Regard.

Rounding out the action, a depleted Connacht side earned a fine 23-20 victory over Montpellier in their first Champions Cup outing in three years.

Backs Tiernan O'Halloran and Kieran Marmion were absent for the clash, as were big hitters Paddy McAllister, Finlay Bealham, Quinn Roux, Gavin Thornbury and Sean O'Brien in the forwards.

However, tries from Paul Boyle, stand-in captain Tom McCartney and Caolin Blade helped Connacht start their Pool 5 campaign with a win at the Sportsground.

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.

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