Perpignan 25 (14)
Bayonne 19 (3)
Perpignan continued their late push for a play-off spot by beating Bayonne 25-19 at the Stade Aimé Giral on Friday night to record their fourth straight win.
Their hard-earned victory temporarily lifted the 2009 champions up to eighth in Top 14, level on points with Biarritz and within striking distance of that elusive top six position.
Top 14 League Table
The Catalans dominated the first half and could have been even further clear than their 14-3 advantage had full-back Jérôme Porical not missed with three penalties and a conversion attempt.
Porical did manage to succeed with three efforts, trading early penalties with Benjamin Boyet before former Bourgoin centre Rudi Coetzee grabbed the game's opening try on 20 minutes following a kick through by fly-half Nicolas Laharrague.
Bayonne defended stoutly, as has been their way in recent weeks, but their cause was undermined somewhat by flanker Abdelatif Boutaty being yellow-carded four minutes before the break after a flare up with Grégory Le Corvec.
Another punch-up soon after the restart resulted half-time replacement Rémy Martin also being sin-binned, although this time Perpignan were also penalised with Le Corvec seeing yellow too.
Bayonne still managed to reduce the deficit despite being down to 13 when Boyet landed a 46th-minute penalty, but it was the fly-half's last contribution as he followed scrum-half Cédric Garcia into the treatment room.
But the Basques made light of having to replace their half-back pairing and soon reduced the deficit further when South African winger Sam Gerber intercepted to touch down n 54 minutes. Replacement scrum-half Julien Audy missed the conversion - as he had a penalty just minutes earlier - leaving the score 14-11 to Perpignan.
The hosts replied with a try of their own just fur minutes later after a period of sustained pressure culminated with Tongan prop Kisi Pulu powering over, but the wayward kicking continued with scrum-half David Mélé this time missing the conversion.
Audy was likewise off target with a straightforward penalty attempt on 63 minutes, but Bayonne's persistence was rewarded with a second try soon after as Gerber won the race to a Sébastien Fauqué kick and touched down for his second of the evening, and fifth in the league this season. Fauqué assumed the kicking duties this time, but again the conversion was missed to leave the scores 19-16 to Perpignan.
Leading try and point-scorers in Top 14
But just when it seemed Bayonne might be in line to pull off a remarkable victory they were denied by two successful Laharrague penalties - in the 68th and 72nd minutes - as Perpignan finally sealed the victory.
There was still time, however, for Audy to land one in reply for Bayonne just two minutes from time, with that effort proving enough to secure the Basques a well deserved losing bonus for their night's efforts.
And all this after the club's continuing power struggle took yet another turn just hours before kick off when Bayonne Mayor Jean Grenet called on the club's President Francis Salagoity to resign.
Salagoity later told Grenet to keep his thoughts to himself, especially just before a crucial game, and said all issues of resignation would be addressed at an extraordinary general meeting now scheduled for April 13th.
Round 21 Preview
||Porical (3), Laharrague (2)
||Boyet (2), Audy