La Rochelle prepare for Champions Cup final with 59-0 demolition of Agen

La Rochelle prepare for Champions Cup final with 59-0 demolition of Agen

CONTRASTING EMOTIONS: Agen's coach Regis Sonnes and La Rochelle's coach Ronan O'Gara on the sideline at the Marcel Deflandre Stadium. Picture: Xavier Leoty/AFP via Getty Images

Champions Cup finalists La Rochelle and Toulouse had a day of very different Top 14 fortunes against bottom-of-the-table opposition a week out from the showpiece match at Twickenham.

Following losses at Montpellier last weekend and at Brive on Tuesday with heavily rotated squads, La Rochelle's Ronan O'Gara and Jono Gibbes brought back a number of key players for some game time against former Bandon coach Regis Sonnes' already-relegated Agen.

Tawera Kerr-Barlow, Ihaia West, Gregory Alldritt, Brice Dulin, Raymond Rhule and Dillyn Leyds all returned to action in what turned out to be a training ground run-out at Stade Marcel Deflandre.

The hosts, second in the Top 14, were ruthless in their third domestic outing in nine days, running in nine tries to win 59-0 - and equal their biggest win of the season.

Agen are two matches away from what would be the Top 14's first-ever winless season. They picked up their second and most recent-bonus point in October.

But league leaders Toulouse — who resisted the temptation to give likely final starters Antoine Dupont, Romain Ntamack and Cheslin Kolbe, a pre-final run-out — suffered a shock 28-32 home defeat against Bayonne, who had started the weekend in unlucky 13th, the Top 14's relegation play-off spot.

Toulouse had raced into an early 14-0 lead, but were quickly pegged back by the determined Basques, and found themselves 11 points behind with just two minutes left on the clock.

But a late try from Dimitri Delibes, converted by the fit-again Thomas Ramos, gave Ugo Mola's side the defensive bonus point they needed to stay one point ahead of La Rochelle in the table.

Meanwhile former New Zealand captain Kieran Read has retired from rugby. The 35-year-old broke the news he would retire at the end of the season before Toyota Verblitz's semi-final defeat to Panasonic Wild Knights in Japan's Top League on Saturday.

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