Heineken Champions Cup: Thomas and Russell dazzle as Racing 92 beat Sale to reach semis

Heineken Champions Cup: Thomas and Russell dazzle as Racing 92 beat Sale to reach semis

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Race 92 (6) 41
Try: Thomas, Russel, Imhoff, Printemps The inconvenients: Le Garrec 2, Machenaud Pens: Garrec 5
Sale Sharks (10) 22
Try: Tuilagi, Van der Merwe, B Curry The inconvenients: Du Preez 2 Pens: Du Preez

Two moments of superb footballing talent allowed Racing 92 to break the resistance of Sale Sharks and stage a Champions Cup semi-final with La Rochelle.

Sale led at the interval after Manu Tuilagi ran unopposed, but Racing regained momentum after the break.

Teddy Thomas collected his own kick to score the first try before Finn Russell dramatically delivered the second.

Akker van der Merwe reduced the deficit but Juan Imhoff and Max Spring scored either side of Ben Curry’s consolation.

The good start of the sale foiled by chic Parisians

Word from Sale’s camp before the trip to the French capital was their intention to rush in defense and disrupt the flair players of Russell and Racing.

For 40 minutes at the Paris La Defense Arena, the plan worked like a charm and Russell was denied a quality ball to launch attacks as the blue wall moved forward with intent.

What let Sale down was their disappointing alignment with balls often lost on the pitch, or held in a rush, which impeded their own fluid attacks.

The visitors, however, scored the first try as it looked like they were over the move before Tuilagi latched on to loose ball behind him and came on unopposed for the penultimate act of the first half .

The final act saw Jean-Luc du Preez redeem himself from his missed penalty early in the game to convert Tuilagi’s try under the posts. The scoreboard reflected a carefully crafted game plan to stifle their hosts, but their lead only lasted a minute into the second half.

The races came out of the tunnel in a very different mood and luck was certainly on their side.

Russell pushed the ball towards Thomas, who collected the bouncing ball from the challenge of Luke James, before dropping it on his boot as he stayed on the field with the smallest margin and ran towards his own chip for to mark.

On another day, the winger could have been judged in contact, but there was nothing questionable about Russell’s excellent try.

As Sale tried to clear their lines, Russell ran to the ball and cleared the field on the half-volley, only for the rebound of the ball to favor the Scottish fly-half and go over AJ MacGinty’s head and back. on his way.

Another kick sent the ball away from his counterpart and the third sent the ball over the line to fall as Racing broke Sale’s resistance nine minutes into the second half.

Van der Merwe powered forward to reduce the deficit, but Le Garrec’s five penalties still kept the hosts out of touch, and when Imhoff crossed after a smooth move, the game was over.

Ben Curry, in place of injured brother Tom, scored a late consolation but with MacGinty in the trash, Racing saved the best running rugby to the finish when Spring was the beneficiary, completing a move which included excellent unloadings.

The races will qualify for an all-French semi-final with last year’s runners-up and aim to do better than their three second-place finishes.


Race 92: Spring; Thomas, Fickou, Chavancy, Imhoff; Russell, LeGarrec; Kolingar, Cat, Sa, Chouzenoux, Bresler, Lauret, Diallo, Tanga

Replacements: Baubigny, Ben Arous, Nyakane, Le Roux, Pesenti, Machenaud, Gibert, Vakatawa.

Sale sharks: James; Roebuck, R du Preez, Tuilagi, Hammersley; MacGinty, De Klerk; Rodd, Van der Merwe, Schonert, Du Preez, De Jager, Ross, T Curry, D du Preez.

Subs: Ashman, McIntyre, Oosthuizen, Wiese, B Curry, Warr, James, Janse van Rensburg.

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