Mon, Feb 02, 2009 - Page 19 News List

Carter saves day for Perpignan with 79th-minute kick

AFP , PARIS

Stade Francais’ Julien Arias runs with the ball as Perpignan’s Rimas Alvarez Kairelis dives during their French Top14 match in Saint-Denis, France, on Saturday.

PHOTO: AFP

A last-gasp penalty from New Zealand fly-half Dan Carter secured a 13-13 draw for Perpignan against Stade Francais on Saturday that prevented the Parisians from overtaking Toulouse at the Top 14 summit.

Earlier in the day, Toulouse had slumped to their third loss of the season at ninth-placed Biarritz.

In front of almost 80,000 spectators at a packed Stade de France, the home side led 7-0 at halftime thanks to a 28th-minute Lionel Beauxis try that the French full-back converted.

A pair of penalties from Juan Martin Hernandez put Stade’s lead at 13-3 shortly before the hour mark, after Carter had sent over a 52nd-minute penalty.

But Maxime Mermoz sparked the Perpignan fightback when he crashed over for a 72nd-minute try that Carter converted. The Kiwi poster boy then sank a 79th-minute penalty to ensure his side traveled back south with a hard-earned share of the spoils.

The result keeps Toulouse top, two points clear of Stade Francais, despite their surprise 17-13 defeat at a resurgent Biarritz, with Perpignan in third.

In the day’s other games, fourth-placed Clermont thrashed fifth-placed Bayonne 44-10 to open up a 10-point gap over their opponents, while second-bottom Castres were held to an 11-11 draw at home to Brive.

Elsewhere, Montpellier beat Dax 23-14 and Bourgoin overcame Montauban 25-15.

On Friday, Toulon secured their first league win since November against fellow relegation candidates Mont-de-Marsan.

Toulon’s New Zealand import Sonny Bill Williams played a starring role in a five-try, 38-22 victory although coach Tana Umaga had to shelve his playing return after failing to win the necessary administrative clearance.

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