Lyon quickly put their European Champions Cup disappointment behind them to return to the Top 14 summit with a comfortable home victory over Toulon on Saturday.
The domestic league leaders failed to advance through their European pool after losing to Leinster and Northampton Saints across the previous two weekends.
But a Top 14 title charge is very much on thanks to their 11th win of the campaign, a 27-12 success as Toulon were held try-less.
Xavier Mignot crossed for Lyon’s opener after eight minutes, but Anthony Belleau kicked four first-half penalties to keep Toulon in the match with a narrow half-time lead.
But after Rudi Wulf and then Toby Arnold added further Lyon tries, victory never looked in serious doubt.
— LOU Rugby (@LeLOURugby) January 25, 2020
Meanwhile, La Rochelle defeated Montpellier 35-30 thanks to a hat-trick from Arthur Retiere in a 15-minute spell either side of half-time.
Retiere crossed in the 32nd, 36th and 46th minutes to put La Rochelle in complete control, their lead 32-11 inside the final half-hour.
But they had to withstand a tense finish after Johan Goosen, Nicolaas Janse van Rensburg and Nemani Nadolo all crossed while Geoffrey Doumayrou was sent off.
Racing 92 had no difficulties as they crushed Castres on the road, Marc-Antoine Rallier’s 48th-minute dismissal ending all hopes of a home fightback in a 27-0 reverse.
Brive defeated Pau 33-26 in far more dramatic circumstances, though, as Thomas Laranjeira produced a stunning match-winning turn.
The full-back scored 28 of his side’s 33 points, including two tries in the closing stages to down shell-shocked Pau, who had led from the 26th minute until the 77th.
In Saturday’s late game, Stade Francais made a strong start but succumbed to a 29-19 loss at Clermont Auvergne.
Bordeaux-Begles have the chance to move back above Lyon and return to the top of the standings when they play away to holders Toulouse on Sunday.
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