Paris – Toulouse slipped to their first home loss of the Top 14 season on Sunday when Montpellier grabbed a 31-29 win, although they were left to rue a last-minute missed conversion which would have salvaged a draw.
The result left Toulouse in fifth place on 44 points, seven behind leaders Toulon while Montpellier are in the sixth and final play-off spot on 41 points.
They almost snatched a share of the spoils when Timoci Matanavou scored a try in the eighth minute of time added-on but Jean-Marc Doussain was unable to make the conversion.
The result was also a second successive defeat for Toulouse after they were beaten 28-8 at La Rochelle last weekend.
It came when they were again weakened by the absence of key players — Gael Fickou, Maxime Medard, Yoann Maestri and Sebastien Bezy away on Six Nations duty while skipper Thierry Dusautoir is suspended.
Toulouse’s miserable afternoon was completed by the sight of young hooker Julien Marchand playing the closing stages without a shirt.
Jake White’s Montpellier scored two early tries for a 15-3 lead after 15 minutes, with Timoci Nagusa claiming both.
Florian Fritz was then yellow-carded which allowed Paul Willemse to add a third try for the visitors early in the second half.
Toulouse fought back with Paul Perez and Luke McAlister crossing for scores in the space of five minutes but despite Matanavou’s late effort, Doussain was unable to hold his nerve with the conversion.
On Saturday, European champions Toulon returned to the summit with a six-try, 44-15 win over Brive.
Defending champions Stade Francais lost 33-18 to Grenoble, while Racing 92 suffered a first home loss since May when Castres grabbed a 13-9 victory.