Racing shrug off Carter shock, Clermont go top

2017-02-19 12:00
Rugby ball

Paris - Racing 92 put Dan Carter's drink-driving shock behind them with a 33-25 win over Brive in the French Top 14 on Saturday as Clermont grabbed pole position after a 46-27 victory over rock-bottom Bayonne.

Defending champions Racing maintained their unbeaten home record despite dealing with the fall-out from All Blacks legend Carter being pulled over for drink-driving in Paris on Wednesday.

The 34-year-old two-time World Cup winner, who apologised for his "massive error of judgement", was injured and absent Saturday as he took a break in his native New Zealand.

Racing were also without Eddy Ben Arous, Camille Chat, Bernard le Roux and Maxime Machenaud, all away on Six Nations duty, as well as fly-halves Carter, Benjamin Dambielle and Remi Tales and scrum-half Xavier Chauveau.

Despite the absentees, they were quickly into their stride with Gerbrandt Grobler grabbing a 14th-minute try with two penalties from James Hart giving them an 11-0 lead.

Brive stunned the champions as Sevanaia Galala and Karlen Asieshvili scored tries for a 15-13 lead.

Lock forward Leone Nakarawa restored Racing's lead with the first of two tries in the 47th minute before adding his second 18 minutes later for a 30-18 advantage.

Guillaume Ribes scored a consolation try for Brive at the death.

"We knew that this would be a complicated day as every year Brive pose us problems," said Racing's backs coach Laurent Labit.

Clermont lead the standings on points difference after their six-try, 46-27 win over Bayonne allowed them to leapfrog La Rochelle who earlier downed Stade Francais 37-18.

Clermont had the game wrapped up by half-time, building up a 29-0 lead thanks to scores from Aurelien Rougerie, a brace from Charlie Cassang and Damien Penaud.

Judicael Cancoriet and skipper Alexandre Lapandry, in the last minute, secured the bonus-point triumph.

"The first half was perfect to be 29-0 ahead but in the second half we gave away two tries, both on interceptions, that's 14 easy points which gave Bayonne a new lease of life," said Clermont boss Franck Azema.

"But I was satisfied in how we reacted after that, the way we scored a bonus point while we were under pressure."

Unheralded Pau are fourth after beating Grenoble 39-22 for a sixth successive win with All Blacks fly-half Colin Slade excelling with the boot with 24 points.

La Rochelle were made to struggle for their victory against Stade and would have been in deeper trouble without Brock James, the veteran Australian fly-half who booted 22 points from six penalties and two conversions.

"The context of the game was strange coming as it did after a two-week break," said La Rochelle coach Patrice Collazo, whose team failed to secure a bonus point.

"Stade Francais came with a very strong squad and when we saw their team on Friday we said that it would be complicated."

La Rochelle scored tries from New Zealand No8 Victor Vito, Jules Le Bail and Levani Botia.

Read more on:    racing 92  |  rugby


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