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Top 16: Grenoble win in Paris

The expanded French elite league saw the first win for a promoted team against one of last year’s Top 8 last weekend.

Lille recorded their first win of the season at Caen

Last week’s games highlighted the fears of those who questioned the expansion of the French elite league when all four of the games between last year’s Top 8 and Armelle Auclair teams proved one sided with only one of the newly promoted teams getting onto the scoreboard.

This week it was very different with newly-promoted Caen only being denied victory against Lille right at the end of the game in a performance that was only overshadowed by Grenoble, who travelled to the capital and beat Bobigny, 7th in last year’s Top 8.

In Pool 2, Grenoble lead throughout the game, though Bobigny were always on their heels. Lou Noël – who recently represented France 7s at U18s – used her amazing speed to open the scoring after 33 minutes, giving the visitors a 5-0 lead at the break, after which scores were exchanged regularly, but the Amazons held on for an historic win by 13-10.

Caen came agonisingly close to doing the same at “home” (in fact Flers, as their home ground was unplayable due to recent storms). Lille, after losing 12 players from last year’s semi-final squad, are looking one of the weaker Top 8 teams this year and Caen lead for most of the game before being denied by a try in the final minutes, Lille squeezing home for their new coaching team’s first win by 8-7.

There were also two games in Pool 2 between the newly promoted and the old elite, both of which went to the old guard – but even here, although Villlonguet were dismissed 66-3 at home by Blagnac, Lons managed to cross the Romagnat line twice before losing 44-10.

In was a win that puts the team from Clermont top of Pool 1 with a 100% record and two five-point wins, which is a great start for last year’s basement team in the Top 8. Last year’s champions Montpellier are looking good just behind them after beating Rennes (5th in the Top 8 last year) by 30-19, at Rennes. The scoreline perhaps flattered the champions who after 51 minutes were struggling a little, 19-13 down, but the visitors dominated the last quarter with three tries, bringing them a second bonus point. Blagnac are the only other unbeaten side in Pool 1 after their big win at Villonguet.

In Pool 2 Grenoble, after their great win added to their win on the opening day, lead the way but with Toulouse right on their heels as the only other 100% team – though they had a tough game at Bayonne, winning only 26-14.

Elite 1 Féminine – Round 2

Poule 1: *Rennes 19–30 *Montpellier ; *Romagnat 44–10 Lons ; Villelonguet 3–66 *Blagnac ; Rouen 15–24 Stade Francais

Poule 2: *Bayonne 14–26 *Toulouse; *Bobigny 10–13 Grenoble ; *Caen 7–8 Lille ; Tarbes 10–19 Bordeaux

*Top 8 team in 2017/18