Castres climbed off the bottom of the French rugby’s Top 14 on Saturday with a 22-14 win over champions Toulon, who were missing a host of first-choice stars away on November international duty.
The European and French champions had to include seven youth team players in their travelling party to the home of the 2013 title winners to accommodate for the loss of their 12 internationals.
They trailed 22-0 until the 68th minute before former Western Force winger David Smith scored two converted tries to add a little gloss to the scoreline.
Unlike Toulon, Castres were only missing Rory Kockott and Remi Tales away on French duty and they made their advantage count with Capo Ortega, Romain Cabannes and former All Black Sitiveni Sivivatu all scoring tries.
It was a special moment for winger Sivivatu who scored his first try for Castres after being sidelined for three months with a shoulder injury.
“No points but it’s not that dramatic,” said Toulon backs coach Pierre Mignoni.
“Our young players showed solidarity and courage but Castres are a big team and kept the knife to out throats.”
Clermont went back to the summit with a 51-9 rout of title rivals Stade Francais, running in seven tries.
Racing Metro beat Bayonne 27-10 despite missing nine players away on international duty and with coach Laurent Labit serving a 15-week ban.
On Friday, Brive claimed their first French Top 14 away victory since February 2012 when they defeated Montpellier 25-10.
Montpellier could have gone into the top four with a win but their fourth successive loss in all competitions was greeted by a chorus of boos from their disgruntled fans.
“We lost and we have nothing to complain about. We were weak,” said Montpellier coach Fabien Galthie.