Experienced Lopez kicks Clermont to win over Toulouse

·3-min read
Clermont's Camille Lopez is hugged by team-mate Arthur Iturria after the Toulouse win (AFP/THIERRY ZOCCOLAN) (THIERRY ZOCCOLAN)

Veteran fly-half Camille Lopez kicked Clermont to a 16-13 home win over French Top 14 champions Toulouse on Saturday, to move into the play-off places.

Lopez, 32, came off the bench before slotting a drop goal and a penalty to send his side above Lyon into sixth spot in the two-time French champions' first game since early December due to Covid-19 postponements.

"Obviously, playing a great Toulouse and beating them does us a lot of good and is a step for us," Lopez told Canal+.

"We gave everything, you have to give everything against a team like that or you'll concede 30 points," he added.

The holders remain in second, a point below leaders Bordeaux-Begles, and remain without a league victory at Stade Marcel-Michelin since 2002.

The recent increase in Covid-19 cases across France has impacted French rugby with one of this weekend's seven games, Montpellier's trip to Toulon, postponed due to coronavirus cases, on top of four matches which couldn't go ahead last weekend.

Additionally, from Monday onwards games will be played in front of a maximum of 5,000 spectators, or 2,000 for Racing 92's home games played at an indoor arena, in an attempt to control the curb.

Days before the new measures take effect, 18,000 people witnessed Toulouse take a 7-0 lead over Clermont after seven minutes.

Argentina’s Juan Cruz Mallia crossed after France lock Thibaud Flament's off-load in midfield. Thomas Ramos added the conversion.

The sides were level after a quarter of an hour as hooker Yohan Beheregaray claimed his fifth try of the season and Ireland fly-half JJ Hanrahan slotted home the extras.

Ramos and Hanrahan then traded penalty goals which set up a tense final half an hour.

Hanrahan was replaced by ex-France fly-half Camille Lopez with 22 minutes left and made his mark 10 minutes later.

With his side in control, Lopez turned back the clock with 12 minutes left to make it 13-10 with a smooth drop goal.

Lopez, who played the last of his 28 Les Bleus appearances at the 2019 Rugby World Cup, then made sure of victory with a 73rd minute penalty.

Ramos kicked a late shot at goal to claim a bonus point but Toulouse' wait for a league win at Clermont goes on.

Earlier, Fiji centre Waisea Nayacalevu scored twice as Stade Francais moved up to eighth with a 27-17 win over struggling Perpignan.

Nayacalevu, 31 will leave the Parisians at the end of the season to join Toulon.

"He is important in our system. His mates develop situations in which he is at ease," the Parisians' head coach Gonzalo Quesada told reporters.

"He is a great player who loves this club," he added.

On Sunday, Castres host La Rochelle and Nayacalevu's Test team-mate Josua Tuisova returns from a month suspension as Lyon welcome Racing 92 in the picks of the fixtures.

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