Carter eyes double as Racing tame Tigers

2016-04-24 18:58
Dan Carter (Getty Images)

Nottingham - New Zealand great Dan Carter will have the chance to add the European Champions Cup title to the World Cup he won earlier this season after Racing 92 beat an error-ridden Leicester 19-16 in the semi-finals of the continental club competition on Sunday.

Former All Blacks flyhalf Carter, international rugby union's all-time leading points scorer, kicked 11 points after Racing captain Maxime Machenaud crossed early on for a try at Nottingham City's Ground.

South African centre Johan Goosen's long-distance penalty seven minutes from time put Racing two scores in front.

Leicester wing Telusa Veainu's converted try late on set up a grandstand finish but ultimately the Tigers, who had made the short journey across the East Midlands from their Welford Road base, paid the price for too many knock-ons.

Racing will now face another English club in Premiership leaders Saracens when they contest their first major European final in Lyon on May 14.

Best known as the home of Nottingham Forest football club, the City Ground was staging its second major European rugby semi-final, with Tim Stimpson's last-minute 58-metre penalty sealing Leicester's 13-12 win over Llanelli in 2002.

Racing, who stopped French rivals Toulon's dreams of a fourth successive European crown in the quarter-finals, were in the last four of the tournament for the first time.

Yet with a wealth of international stars at their disposal, Racing didn't lack big-game experience and they opened the scoring in just the third minute.

Two powerful charges by former All Blacks wing Joe Rokocoko saw him shake off some lacklustre Leicester tackles.

From the ensuing close-range ruck, France scrumhalf Machenaud burrowed over for a try that flyhalf Carter converted.

Leicester had a couple of let-offs when Racing centre Goosen missed with a long-range penalty and Carter's snap drop-goal attempt drifted wide.

The Tigers did though then enjoy a spell of concerted pressure but excellent Racing defence, led by several powerful tackles from former All Blacks back-row Chris Masoe, kept them at bay.

Having absorbed that pressure, Racing forced a turnover and then won a 25-metre penalty which Carter duly kicked to put them 10-0 up in the 20th minute.

Leicester then scored next, with flyhalf Freddie Burns's penalty reducing Racing's lead to seven points.

Burns's break then helped Leicester advance deep into Racing territory but the stand-off suffered a knee injury in the process and hobbled off soon afterwards.

Replacement Owen Williams then kicked a 37th-minute penalty with his first touch of the match.

However, there was still time left in the half for Leicester to concede a penalty on the edge of their 22, after World Cup final referee Nigel Owens spotted lock Dom Barrow handling in a ruck, and Carter restored Racing's seven-point lead.

Leicester though forced a scrum penalty early in the second half which Williams kicked to bring the Tigers within four points of Racing.

The scrum was an eagerly contested area and when Leicester and England prop Dan Cole gave away a penalty, Carter made no mistake from 35 metres in the 50th minute.

Nevertheless Leicester, playing the more 'open' rugby that has become their hallmark under the guidance of coach Aaron Mauger, the former New Zealand centre, continued to attack from deep with the likes of Tonga's Veainu testing the Racing defence.

But experienced Tigers back-row replacement Tom Croft's knock-on ended a promising move.

It appeared Leicester's carelessness had been punished by a try from Goosen but Owens, after consulting replays, disallowed the score for a forward pass by Masoe to Machenaud earlier in the move.

But there was no denying Goosen when he landed an excellent penalty from 45 metres out on the left in the 73rd minute.

Leicester kept coming and Australia centre Peter Betham found Adam Thompstone on the overlap and the replacement's inside pass released Veainu for a try converted by Williams.

But it was too little too late for the Tigers.

Read more on:    racing 92  |  dan carter  |  rugby

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