The opening Saturday of the Top 14 saw wins picked up by La Rochelle, Montpellier, Racing 92, Stade Français and Bordeaux-Bègles.
Earlier in the day Oyonnax and Toulouse played out a draw.
Oyonnax 23-23 Toulouse
Brive 10-19 La Rochelle
Montpellier 48-19 Agen
Racing 92 25-21 Castres
Stade Français 16-25 Lyon
Bordeaux-Bègles 32-25 Clermont Auvergne
Brive 10-19 La Rochelle
Stade Amedee-Domenech, Brive
La Rochelle and Arthur Retiere picked up from where they left off last season by producing an impressive display in seeing off Brive 19-10.
Semi-finalists in 2016/17, Patrice Collazo’s men have set out with the intention of improving on that performance, and this triumph at the Stade Amedee-Domenech once again showed their capabilities.
They were made to work by a typically dogged home side, who prevented their opponents from gaining too much front-foot ball before the interval, but the visitors moved away in the second period.
Retiere opened La Rochelle’s account for the season early on by scampering over, but Samuel Marques’ penalty kept the hosts in contention at the break.
Despite only being four points in arrears, Nicolas Godignon’s team were on the back foot at the beginning of the second period and Retiere touched down once more.
Although Karlen Asieshvili managed to get a try back for Brive, Alexi Bales sealed an excellent win for La Rochelle.
Yellow Cards: Da Ros, Lapeyre
For La Rochelle:
Tries: Retiere 2, Bales
Cons: Goillot, James
Yellow Cards: Sazy, Qovu
Brive: 15 Benjamin Lapeyre, 14 Takudzwa Ngwenya, 13 Arnaud Mignardi, 12 Seremaia Burotu, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Nicolas Bezy, 9 Samuel Marques, 8 Sisa Koyamaibole, 7 Petrus Hauman, 6 Said Hireche, 5 Damien Lagrange, 4 Johan Snyman, 3 Sila Puafisi, 2 Francois Da Ros, 1 Vivien Devisme
Replacements: 16 Thomas Acquier, 17 Karlen Asieshvili, 18 Dominiko Waqaniburotu, 19 Poutasi Luafutu, 20 Florian Cazenave, 21 Matthieu Ugalde, 22 Thomas Laranjeira, 23 Soso Bekoshvili
La Rochelle: 15 Arthur Retiere, 14 Gabriel Lacroix, 13 Geoffrey Doumayrou, 12 Pierre Aguillon, 11 Eliott Roudil, 10 Jeremy Sinzelle, 9 Jean Victor Goillot, 8 Victor Vito, 7 Zeno Kieft, 6 Levani Botia, 5 William Demotte, 4 Romain Sazy, 3 Lekso Kaulashvili, 2 Hikairo Forbes, 1 Dany Priso
Replacements: 16 Jeremie Maurouard, 17 Mike Corbel, 18 Jone Qovu, 19 Mathieu Tanguy, 20 Alexi Bales, 21 Brock James, 22 Paul Jordaan, 23 Luc Mousset
Referee: Alexandre Ruiz
Assistant Referees: Ludovic Cayre, Akim Hadj-Bachir
TMO: Patrick Dellac
Montpellier 48-19 Agen
Altrad Stadium, Montpellier
Montpellier gave Agen a stark reminder of the difficulties they will face this season by thrashing last season’s Pro D2 play-off winners 48-19.
At the same time, Vern Cotter’s men displayed their own title credentials, scoring seven tries in a confident display.
It was effectively game over by half-time with Nemani Nadolo, Joe Tomane and Benjamin Fall going over, while Benoit Paillaugue added a conversion and a penalty before Ruan Pienaar entered the fray to show his qualities.
Facundo Bosch did touch down for the visitors but Martin Devergie and Alexandre Dumoulin tries were just reward for the hosts’ superiority.
Although Julien Heriteau and Tamaz Mchedlidze secured a couple of consolation efforts, Romain Ruffenach and Wiaan Liebenberg rounded off a comfortable win for Montpellier.
Tries: Nadolo, Tomane, Fall, Devergie, Dumoulin, Ruffenach, Liebenberg
Cons: Paillaugue, Pienaar 4
Tries: Bosch, Heriteau, Mchedlidze
Cons: McIntyre, Russell
Yellow Card: Cedaro
Montpellier: 15 Benjamin Fall, 14 Joe Tomane, 13 Alexandre Dumoulin, 12 Francois Steyn, 11 Nemani Nadolo, 10 Aaron Cruden, 9 Benoit Paillaugue, 8 Martin Devergie, 7 Wiaan Liebenberg, 6 Fulgence Ouedraogo, 5 Paul Willemse, 4 Konstantine Mikautadze, 3 Antoine Guillamon, 2 Bismarck du Plessis, 1 Gregory Fichten
Replacements: 16 Romain Ruffenach, 17 Yvan Watremez, 18 Nico Janse van Rensburg, 19 Kevin Kornath, 20 Ruan Pienaar, 21 Yvan Reilhac, 22 Henri Immelman, 23 Mohamed Haouas
Agen: 15 Mathieu Lamoulie, 14 Vilikisa Salawa, 13 Johann Sadie, 12 Julien Heriteau, 11 George Tilsley, 10 Jake McIntyre, 9 Ricky Januarie, 8 Akapusi Qera, 7 Vincent Farre, 6 Antoine Miquel, 5 Denis Marchois, 4 Thomas Murday, 3 Dave Ryan, 2 Facundo Bosch, 1 Quentin Bethune
Replacements: 16 Loick Jammes, 17 Morgan Phelipponneau, 18 Leandro Cedaro, 19 Antoine Erbani, 20 Hugo Verdu, 21 Jeremy Russell, 22 Tamaz Mchedlidze, 23 Vakhtangi Akhobadze
Referee: Tual Trainini
Assistant Referees: Cyril Lafon, Jean-Luc Rebollal
TMO: Eric Briquet-Campin
Racing 92 25-21 Castres
Stade Yves Du Manoir, Colombes
Racing 92 produced a superb late fight-back to overturn a 21-13 second half deficit and defeat Castres 25-21.
Christophe Urios’ men controlled much of the encounter and deserved the 18-3 lead given to them by two quick-fire Armand Batlle tries.
The hosts, having been so lacklustre in the opening period, needed a response and Anthony Tuitavake provided it, reducing the arrears to eight points at the break.
Dan Carter and Benjamin Urdapilleta traded penalties in the second half before a late surge saw Racing take the spoils.
Firstly, Juan Imhoff crossed the whitewash and then Louis Dupichot scored – after Anthony Jelonch had been sin-binned – to complete the comeback.
For Racing 92:
Tries: Tuitavake, Imhoff, Dupichot
Cons: Carter 2
Pens: Carter 2
Yellow Card: Baubigny
Tries: Batlle 2
Pens: Urdapilleta 3
Yellow Card: Jelonch
Racing: 15 Louis Dupichot, 14 Joe Rokocoko, 13 Anthony Tuitavake, 12 Dan Carter, 11 Juan Imhoff, 10 Remi Tales, 9 Xavier Chauveau, 8 So’otala Fa’aso’o, 7 Baptiste Chouzenoux, 6 Wenceslas Lauret, 5 Edwin Maka, 4 Boris Palu, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Dimitri Szarzewski, 1 Vasil Kakovin
Replacements: 16 Teddy Baubigny, 17 Georges-Henri Colombe, 18 Leone Nakarawa, 19 Yannick Nyanga, 20 Teddy Iribaren, 21 Albert Vulivuli, 22 Teddy Thomas, 23 Census Johnston
Castres: 15 Julien Dumora, 14 Armand Batlle, 13 Thomas Combezou, 12 Robert Ebersohn, 11 Taylor Paris, 10 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Maama Vaipulu, 7 Mathieu Babillot, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 4 Loic Jacquet, 3 Yohan Montes, 2 Kevin Firmin, 1 Antoine Tichit
Replacements: 16 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 17 Tudor Stroe, 18 Christophe Samson, 19 Anthony Jelonch, 20 Ludovic Radosavljevic, 21 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 22 David Smith, 23 Damien Tussac
Referee: Maxime Chalon
Assistant Referees: Francois Bouzac, Laurent Perrin
TMO: Laurent Sclafer
Stade Français 16-25 Lyon
Stade Jean Bouin, Paris
Lyon produced a solid performance to overcome Stade Français and get their campaign off to an ideal start following a 25-16 triumph.
Some at Stade were probably just content to be there after the off-field turmoil of last season, but they were excellent in the opening exchanges of this encounter and moved into a 13-0 lead in the first quarter.
Waisea Nayacalevu touched down and Morne Steyn added eight points from the boot before the visitors finally mounted a response.
They scored 17 unanswered points via Thibaut Regard and Alexis Palisson, with Lionel Beauxis converting both and also adding a penalty.
Steyn did reduce the arrears but Albertus Buckle’s try and Frederic Michalak’s late three-pointer gave Lyon the victory.
For Stade Français:
Pens: Steyn 3
Yellow Card: Arias
Tries: Regard, Palisson, Buckle
Cons: Beauxis 2
Pens: Beauxis 2
Yellow Card: Michalak
Stade Français: 15 Djibril Camara, 14 Julien Arias, 13 Waisea Nayacalevu, 12 Theo Millet, 11 Marvin O’Connor, 10 Morne Steyn, 9 Charl McLeod, 8 Sergio Parisse, 7 Willem Alberts, 6 Sekou Macalou, 5 Alexandre Flanquart, 4 Paul Gabrillagues, 3 Paul Alo-Emile, 2 Maxime Gau, 1 Zurabi Zhvania
Replacements: 16 Craig Burden, 17 Gurthro Steenkamp, 18 Hugh Pyle, 19 Steevy Cerqueira, 20 Arthur Coville, 21 Jimmy Yobo, 22 Tony Ensor, 23 Lorenzo Cittadini
Lyon: 15 Jean-Marcellin Buttin, 14 Toby Arnold, 13 Rudi Wulf, 12 Thibaut Regard, 11 Alexis Palisson, 10 Lionel Beauxis, 9 Baptiste Couilloud, 8 Carl Fearns, 7 Liam Gill, 6 Dylan Cretin, 5 Francois van der Merwe, 4 Felix Lambey, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Mickael Ivaldi, 1 Alexandre Menini
Replacements: 16 Virgile Lacombe, 17 Albertus Buckle, 18 Hendrik Roodt, 19 Taiasina Tuifua, 20 Frederic Michalak, 21 Hemani Paea, 22 Theo Belan, 23 Clement Ric
Referee: Sebastien Minery
Assistant Referees: Thomas Chereque, Philippe Milani
TMO: Denis Grenouillet
Bordeaux-Bègles 32-25 Clermont
Jacques Chaban-Delmas, Bordeaux
Clermont started their title defence with a defeat after Bordeaux-Bègles produced an outstanding second half display to secure a 32-25 triumph.
UBB, who went into the game having lost a number of key players in the summer, got off to an excellent start, going 5-0 ahead through Fa’asiu Fuatai.
However, Clermont are champions for a reason and two tries in as many minutes by Peceli Yato and Remy Grosso took them into the lead.
Simon Hickey did reduce the arrears from the tee but Patricio Fernandez responded with two of his own as Clermont moved 18-8 in front.
Bordeaux continued to press, though, and the pressure resulted in Benjamin Kayser receiving a yellow card. While the Auvergne hooker was off the field, Hickey kicked three penalties as the hosts brought themselves back into the contest.
Franck Azema’s men were struggling for continuity and the home side duly pounced, scoring two further tries from Peni Ravai and Jean-Baptiste Dubie to secure the win.
The visitors did have the final word via Michael Simutoga, which garnered a losing bonus-point, but the home side deservedly went away with the victory.
Tries: Fuatai, Ravai, Dubie
Pens: Hickey 5
Tries: Yato, Grosso, Simutoga
Cons: Fernandez, Lopez
Pens: Fernandez 2
Yellow Card: Kayser
Bordeaux-Bègles: 15 Darly Domvo, 14 Fa’asiu Fuatai, 13 Apisai Naqalevu, 12 Julien Rey, 11 Jean-Baptiste Dubie, 10 Simon Hickey, 9 Yann Lesgourgues, 8 Leroy Houston, 7 Hugh Chalmers, 6 Mahamadou Diaby, 5 Jandre Marais, 4 Luke Jones, 3 Vadim Cobilas, 2 Adrien Pelissie, 1 Sebastien Taofifenua
Replacements: 16 Florian Dufour, 17 Peni Ravai, 18 Cyril Cazeaux, 19 Marco Tauleigne, 20 Gauthier Doubrere, 21 Tian Schoeman, 22 Jean-Pascal Barrague, 23 Jean-Baptiste Poux
Clermont: 15 Nick Abendanon, 14 Alivereti Raka, 13 Peter Betham, 12 Remi Lamerat, 11 Remy Grosso, 10 Patricio Fernandez, 9 Charlie Cassang, 8 Peceli Yato, 7 Alexandre Lapandry, 6 Viktor Kolelishvili, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Paul Jedrasiak, 3 Davit Zirakashvili, 2 Benjamin Kayser, 1 Raphael Chaume
Replacements: 16 Yohan Beheregaray , 17 Etienne Falgoux, 18 Maxence Barjaud, 19 Damien Chouly, 20 Greig Laidlaw, 21 Camille Lopez, 22 Atila Septar, 23 Michael Simutoga
Referee: Thomas Charabas
Assistant Referees: Pierre Brousset, Laurent Breil
TMO: Eric Gonthier