Paris - Dan Carter's dream season with
Racing 92 has continued with a thrilling 19-16 European Cup quarter-final
victory over French arch-rivals Toulon, but the ex-All Black was left with a
heavily strapped knee.
The win sees Racing now lined up to take on
Leicester in the semi-finals, with Saracens playing Wasps in the other
Carter, the world player of the year and
Test rugby's highest points scorer, has settled in superbly at Racing,
benefitting from an immediate intimacy with half-back partners Mike Phillips
and Maxime Machenaud, and playing behind a dominant, hard-nosed pack with an
exciting backline outside him.
The 34-year-old was slightly subdued in the
narrow win over Toulon which set up a mouth-watering last-four clash with
Leicester for Racing but saw Bernard Laporte's side dethroned in their bid for
an unprecedented fourth consecutive European title.
After kicking an early penalty and
converting Juan Imhoff's try, Carter passed kicking duties to Machenaud on the
His right knee heavily strapped, the
fly-half was seen to hobble at times, but remained on the pitch until the final
whistle for further bragging rights over Toulon's Australian playmaker Matt
Giteau, the duo having met 20 times at Test level, Carter coming out on top 15
Racing coach Laurent Labit said Carter's
injury was "nothing alarming", adding that in such a tight match he
was never going to take the player off.
"I did think about it," Labit
admitted. "But I thought at 16-16 there might be extra-time, that we might
finish the match at 19-19 or have a penalty shoot-out.
"We had to keep Johan Goosen,
Machenaud and Carter on the pitch at all costs because you need three kickers
should there be a penalty shoot-out in the European Cup."
Labit added: "Dan twisted his knee a
little. There's nothing alarming. That said, he was a little handicapped but
very well strapped, he was able to stay on the paddock.
"In matches of this kind of level,
players of such a level, even with their capabilities reduced to 80 percent,
are important, mentally, for the players at their side.
"There could be at any moment a part
of the game which he'd be able to handle and reassure the others."
Racing roared out to an early 10-0 lead,
quickly reeled back in by Toulon by half-time.
The game then descended into a kicking
battle of attrition in the swirling winds of the northwest Parisian suburbs,
with seven missed penalties, three for Racing and four for Toulon.
"Dan was like all the players in
warm-up," Labit said of pre-game kicking practice. "Disturbed by the
wind that was swirling everywhere, coming from the left, the right, straight
Carter, Labit said, was a steady head in a
team beginning to show its real mettle after a couple of disappointing seasons
despite big-name signings such as Jamie Roberts and Jonny Sexton, now both
"All week he's brought a lot of
calmness and experience in the run-up to the match," he said.
"It's important to work well every day
but not to play the game three times in your head before you actually play
A free-running Leicester ran in six tries
in thrashing Racing's Parisian neighbours Stade Francais 41-13 and the Tigers
coach Richard Cockerill backed his team to beat anyone.
"I'm delighted for the team, we have a
semi-final, but we haven't won anything yet. We're the unpopular side to
support, but we know we can beat anyone in a one-off game," the former
England hooker said, with the semi-final set for Nottingham's City Ground on
"We know we can beat Racing... if we
get it right, and if we go to a final, it's a one-off game and we can beat