McAlister leads Toulouse to crushing win over Toulon
Former All Black Luke McAlister scored 27 points as defending champions Toulouse handed Toulon their first defeat of the French Top 14 season on Saturday in a 32-9 romp.
The result also meant Toulon slipped from top spot in the table to second, allowing Clermont, 28-25 winners over Stade Francais on Friday, to snatch pole position.
McAlister was off target with his first penalty in the opening minutes, but from that point onwards, the 29-year-old fly-half hardly put a foot wrong.
Despite the pouring rain in Toulouse, McAlister quickly slotted over two penalties as Toulon’s indiscipline cost them dearly.
In the 23rd minute, the Kiwi grabbed the only try of the opening period.
Gillian Galan won quick ball off the line-out and fed scrum-half Jean-Marc Doussain, who released the charging McAlister.
He burst through an inviting gap in the Toulon defences and shrugged off two desperate tackles before diving for the try beneath the posts.
He added the conversion for a 16-0 lead before opposite number Frederic Michalak got a much-changed Toulon side on the board with a penalty awarded when Toulouse strayed offside.
McAlister then returned to centre-stage with a fourth successful penalty for a 19-3 lead at the break.
McAlister and Michalak exchanged penalties as Toulouse stretched out to 25-9, their territorial dominance aided by seeing Toulon’s Welsh international prop Gethin Jenkins sin-binned for a dangerous tackle on Louis Picamoles.
Lock forward Yoann Maestri grabbed Toulouse’s second try in the 77th minute before McAlister had the last say with a confident conversion.
In other matches on Saturday, Grenoble stunned Racing-Metro 27-13 for their fourth win of the season, while Montpellier moved into fourth place, one point behind Toulouse, after a 19-12 win against Castres.
On Friday, Australian fly-half Brock James kicked a last-minute drop-goal as Clermont overcame a 12-point half-time deficit to beat Stade Francais.
James, a second-half replacement for David Skrela, kept his composure after Australian compatriot Paul Warwick had failed to clear for Stade.
It was James’ second drop-goal of the half as Clermont took their unbeaten home run to 47 matches; a record that stretches back to November 2009.
“We lost it right at the end,” said Stade skipper Pascal Pape.
“But Brock James is Brock James and he killed us in the second half.” It was hard going for Clermont, who trailed 22-10 at the interval after being rocked by three tries — from Wawrick in the first minute and a double from Fiji winger Waisea Vuidravuwalu before the 30-minute mark.
Prop Thomas Domingo had scored Clermont’s only try after nine minutes, converted by scrum-half Morgan Parra, who ended the match with 17 points thanks largely to five second-half penalties.