Replacement Jean-Baptiste Pejoine charged down a last-gasp Sebastien Bezy conversion from under the posts to earn Brive a draw in a 21-21 stalemate with Toulouse yesterday.
It was the second week running Toulouse had missed a crucial conversion with the last kick of the match as Jean-Marc Doussain’s failure cost them a draw in a 31-29 defeat at home to Montpellier. “I don’t know if it’s better to laugh,” said Toulouse coach Ugo Mola.
“Last week, you could say (Doussain) rushed it. The angle was tight for a left-footer.
“But here, it could not have been more in front of the posts.”
New Zealand international fly-half Luke McAlister’s last-minute try after late Toulouse pressure against 14 men looked set to earn a crucial victory for the visitors, with a simple conversion to follow. But Bezy placed the ball too close to the posts, allowing an alert Pejoine the chance to dart forward and leap into the air to palm the ball down one-handed.
“It was up to me to take it back a bit to try to get it over (the charging defenders),” admitted Bezy.
“When you get that close, everyone’s disappointed.”
It was a comical and surreal finish to a tight match that appeared to be in Brive’s pocket 10 minutes from time until Australian Alfie Mafi’s sin-binning.
Pivotal Bezy role
Bezy was off the field at that point having also seen yellow, but returned to the fray to play a pivotal role in failing to give his side victory.
Toulouse moved above Bordeaux-Begles, who host Oyonnax later, into fourth while Brive jumped over Castres, who travel to Montpellier on Saturday night, into seventh. Toulouse opened up an early 6-0 lead after two penalties from scrum-half Bezy as first Fiji flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu and then prop Damien Jourdain were punished.
Brive struck back with a penalty of their own on 23 minutes from Gaetan Germain after a sweeping passage of play saw the hosts drive up to within 10 yards of the Toulouse line.
Brive continued to press and following a line-out deep in the Toulouse 22, hooker Francois Da Ros burrowed to within inches of the line before scrum-half Teddy Iribaren swung the
ball left for South African lock Johan Snyman to flop over the line.
Germain had troubles with the wind, though, and skewed his conversion attempt wide under time pressure—in France, kickers have a 90-second time limit. Toulouse went back in front 10 minutes into the second half as Maxime Medard zig-zagged through the Brive defence from close range, with Bezy converting from in front of the posts.
But Fijian wing Sevenaia Galala did brilliantly to gather and ground an Iribaren grubber kick on the dive to restore the home side’s advantage.
Germain converted, having earlier closed the gap with a penalty.
Bezy was then sin-binned for dragging down a maul and when Germain kicked his third penalty of the match with just over 10 minutes left, Toulouse were two scores behind.
Medard’s dancing feet took Toulouse deep into the Brive 22 before wing Mafi was yellow-carded for being offside, giving fly-half Jean-Marc Doussain the chance to kick Toulouse back to within a score.
There was still time for McAlister to go over and set up a winning kick for Bezy, but scrum-half Pejoine had other ideas.
On Friday night, France wing Noa Nakaitaci scored a hat-trick as Clermont went top with a 45-12 win at Grenoble.
It was a third straight win for Franck Azema’s team, for whom former England wing David Strettle, Wales centre Jonathan Davies and replacement scrum-half Enzo Sanga also scored, while Morgan Parra went six from six with the boot.
Grenoble dominated in terms of possession and territory but were punished three times for turnovers in the first period as Clermont clinically scored five tries before the break.
Racing 92, who host second bottom Agen later on Saturday, or European champions Toulon, who travel to La Rochelle on Sunday, could both displace Clermont at the summit before the weekend is out.
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