Toulouse and Toulon lost ground on the leading two as Bordeaux-Begles returned to the Top 14 summit at the expense of Lyon on Sunday.
Reigning champions Toulouse surrendered a comfortable lead to draw 13-13 at home to Toulon, while Bordeaux emerged 27-23 victors at Pau despite a late scare.
A Thomas Ramos penalty got Toulouse off the mark and the full-back converted Sebastien Bezy’s 14th-minute try to send them into half-time in control.
Another three points from the tee courtesy of Ramos put the hosts 13 ahead, but Louis Carbonel reduced the arrears when he crossed in the 52nd minute.
France scrum-half Antoine Dupont made his return from a back injury sustained at the Rugby World Cup and helped Toulon salvage a draw, with a pair of Anthony Belleau penalties ensuring the spoils were shared.
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The result was a boost for Bordeaux, who scored the first try of their game against Pau despite being down to 14 men after Remi Lamerat was shown a yellow card.
Scott Higginbotham was the man who crossed, before Santiago Cordero touched down twice – the second while Dominiko Waqaniburotu was in the sin bin.
Bordeaux took a 14-point lead when Tom Taylor was shown a yellow card and conceded a penalty try in the 60th minute, with Antoine Hastoy converting a Daniel Ramsey try and adding a three-pointer from the tee at the death to ensure Pau left with a losing bonus point.
Clermont Auvergne were temporarily reduced to 13 men in the second half of their 39-22 triumph over Castres.
Sebastien Vahaamahina was shown a yellow card for repeated infringements and Anthony Jelonch darted over after Rory Kockott took the penalty quickly.
Sitaleki Timani responded to Kockott touching his head as he went to celebrate with his team-mates by striking the Castres scrum-half in the face. After the ensuing melee, Kockott was sent to the sin bin and Timani was shown a red card.
Castres used their numerical advantage to run in another two tries, but Morgan Parra and Greig Laidlaw kept them at bay from the tee.
La Rochelle lost to Bordeaux last weekend but returned to winning ways at home to struggling Agen, running in six tries in a 40-8 triumph.
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