Racing is not dead. Pierced in the first half by La Rochelle, the Hauts-de-Seine club still conceded 4 tries but had the merit of coming back patiently in the second half, and snatching the victory penalty from the siren, converted by Finn Russell (39-36). Hair-raising.
And yet, this convalescent Racing team suffered against the European Champion. The Ciel et Blancs, in slow motion since December and eliminated from the Champions Cup, were counting on the arrival of La Rochelle to revive and reassure themselves. But, even without its internationals who remained in Capbreton with the XV of France, the Maritimes were advancing with more certainty than the Ile-de-France residents at the moment. In particular with former Racing, Yoann Tanga, George-Henri Colombe, Brice Dulin, and to a lesser extent a relatively harmless Teddy Thomas, too happy to titillate their former club.
Result: the bees from La Rochelle stung as soon as they could an elephant in the Ile-de-France region, again a little too clumsy. Jules Favre took advantage of a missed tackle, Rémi Picquette finished close to the lines after a recovered ball, and Antoine Hastoy flew away alone to score on an interception… In half an hour, Racing 92, 2nd worst defense in the Top 14, had resumed his bad habits and conceded three tries. The foot of Russell and the vista of Max Spring and Donovan Taofifenua just allowed the Sky and White not to sink at the break (16-28).
26 points d’Antoine Hastoy, 24 points de Russell
If, like us, you didn’t witness Laurent Travers’ probable outburst at half-time, you can imagine him at the head of Maxime Baudonne… The young 3rd row of Racing was disappointed after his immediate replacement in start of second period. He had just made a blind pass directly into the arms of a Rochelais. Exactly the kind of anything a little too much seen in the first period and that the Racing manager had just banned.
After this rant and the end of recess, Racing did better, much better. No more crazy but high-risk game, Finn Russell’s teammates calm down and finish their actions better, like Klemenczak’s double at the end of the line which completely revives the Racingmen (26-31, 71st).
But these players definitely still have so much trouble in defense at the Arena. Barely ironed in front of the score, they cash a new personal achievement from Antoine Hastoy, who sharpens Klemenczak and mystifies Russell to score the draw (36-36, 74th). Before the winning kick from the Scottish opener which overwhelmed the 15,000 spectators at Paris La Défense Arena.
Racing 92 – La Rochelle 39-36
Racing 92. 3 tries (Taofifenua 23rd, Klemenczak 43rd, 71st). 3 conversions (Russell 23rd, 44th, 72nd). 6 penalties (Russell 3rd, 6th, 19th, 51st, 62nd, 80th).
La Rochelle. 4 attempts (Favre 9th, Picquette 14th, Hastoy 28th, 74th). 2 transformations (Hastoy 10th, 15th). 4 penalties (Hastoy 21st, 25th, 36th, 65th). 1 yellow card (Botia 61st).