Paris - South African international flyhalf Morne Steyn kicked 13 points to help give Stade Francais a Top 14 lifeline with a 23-17 win over Castres on Sunday.
Australian lock Hugh Pyle and Fijian wing Waisea Nayacalevu scored tries as the Parisians eased clear of the drop zone with their first win in six matches.
Stade had started the weekend just a point above the relegation zone but this victory took them up one place to 11th and opened a five-point gap to second from bottom Brive.
Castres crossed the whitewash twice through Tongan flanker Maama Vaipulu and South African-born France international scrumhalf Rory Kockott but flyhalf Benjamin Urdapilleta could not match Steyn's output with the boot.
Steyn kicked two conversions, two penalties and a drop goal.
Pyle opened the scoring in the corner on 13 minutes after a remarkable no-look tap-pass over his own head from Waisea.
Forward power came to the fore as Vaipulu replied for Castres but Steyn landed a penalty and a drop goal early in the second period to give Stade a six point advantage.
After Waisea finished off a sweeping move to extend the lead, Kockott pounced on a loose ball to score as sloppy handling from both sides created chaos on Stade's line.
But with 12 minutes left to try to snatch something from the match, Castres still came up empty-handed.
On Saturday, Montpellier extended their lead by steamrollering second-placed Racing 92 41-3.
But the game was most notable for a pre-match flare-up between Montpellier's front row pair Bismarck Du Plessis and Mohamed Haouas that saw them exchange punches before being dragged apart by team-mates.
Champions Clermont won away from home for the first time this season with a narrow 11-9 success at Brive that saw them climb one place to ninth, although still some 12 points off a play-off spot.
Bottom side Oyonnax continued their stunning revival with a third straight victory, 26-20 at free-falling Bordeaux, to bring them to just five points from safety.
Before this run they had won just once in 17 matches and had seemed relegation certainties.