Oyonnax swamped by Flood as Toulouse edge victory

AFP
Toulouse's centre Yann David (C) runs with the ball during the French Top 14 rugby union match between Toulouse (Stade Toulousain) and Oyonnax on August 16, 2014 at the Ernest Wallon Stadium in Toulouse, southern France
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Paris (AFP) - Former England fly-half Toby Flood made a memorable Top 14 debut for Toulouse scoring all their points in a 20-19 victory over Oyonnax on Saturday.

The 29-year-old -- capped 60 times but who decided to end his England career to join Toulouse from Leicester for this season -- took just eight minutes to make his mark for his new club when he went over for a try.

Although he missed the conversion he added a penalty in the 19th minute for 8-0.

Flood's penalty was the only score for Toulouse with Oyonnax down to 14 men as lock Thibaut Lassalle was sin-binned in the 15th minute.

The hosts themselves were reduced to 14 men in the 22nd minute when France flanker Yannick Nyanga was also sin-binned just nine minutes after he had come on for the injured Yacouba Camara.

Oyonnax made them pay as their Argentinina international fly-half Benjamin Urdapilleta slotted over the resulting penalty and then the 28-year-old converted prop Soane Tonga'uiha's try on the half hour mark.

Flood gave Toulouse the lead again when he added a penalty but right on the stroke of half-time Urdapilleta landed one of his own to give the visitors the lead 13-11 at the break.

Toulouse went back in front seven minutes into the second-half as Flood punished Oyonnax for another infringement only for the lead to swing back to the visitors as the equally accurate boot of Urdapilleta found its mark again with just over 20 minutes remaining.

The duo's metronomic display with the boot continued as they exchanged further penalties with Oyonnax more than holding their own against a club whose budget dwarfs theirs.

However, a famous victory was denied them in the final minute as Flood slotted over a penalty.

"I am pretty proud of the players because they battled to the end," said Toulouse coach Guy Noves. "But I am also angry because sadly we lacked continuity."

Elsewhere, last season's beaten finalists Castres went down at home 25-22 to Stade Francais while two late penalties from Irish international fly-half Jonathan Sexton helped Racing-Metro to a 19-16 win at Montpellier.

Both promoted clubs, Lyon and La Rochelle tasted defeat.

Lyon lost 18-9 to Bordeaux-Begles while La Rochelle can expect a tough season after being thumped 37-15 by Brive.

Clermont began life without coach Vern Cotter, who decamped to take over the Scottish national side, with a hard fought 30-26 win at home to Grenoble.

Now headed by Franck Azema and New Zealander Jono Gibbes, the former Leinster forwards coach, they showed no lack of adventure at home against Grenoble in perfect conditions, albeit displaying some defensive frailities.

Prop Clement Ric opened the scoring for the home side after crashing over from short range, Australian fly-half Brock James kicking the extras.

Damien Chouly, who was named Clermont captain by the new coaching staff in place of France centre Aurelien Rougerie, scored his side's second after a perfect cross-kick by James, who also hit the conversion.

Grenoble hit back with a penalty by ex-Racing stand-off Jonathan Wizniewski and then scored a memorable try through Fijian winger Alipate Ratini, who touched down in the corner after some great interlinking play.

In a fast-moving match after James kicked a penalty the two sides swapped tries, Clermont's Julien Bardy crossing first before Grenoble full-back Fabien Gengenbacher went over.

However, Clermont just hung on to give the new coaching duo a winning start.

On Friday, defending champions Toulon began life after Jonny Wilkinson with a battling 29-15 victory at Bayonne.

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