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Bath avoid Champions Cup humiliation with late fightback at La Rochelle

By PA
(Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Remi Picquette scored a brace of tries as La Rochelle recorded a thumping 39-21 victory over Bath at the Stade Marcel-Deflandre to record their second victory in the Champions Cup.

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Despite a bright start from the visitors, the result was never in doubt from the moment Pierre Popelin registered a couple of early penalties, after Ben Spencer had failed to give Bath an early lead from the tee.

The penalties were followed by a first try courtesy of Jonathan Danty. The powerful centre flew over after collecting a pass from fellow back Raymond Rhule.

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The home side were starting to dominate proceedings and crossed for a second try through forward Picquette. The lock smashed his way over from close range, with Popelin converting both scores.

La Rochelle were in danger of running away with it at this point and only an excellent piece of defence from Josh Bayliss prevented opposite number Gregory Alldritt from adding a third score just before the half-hour mark.

Bath ended the half on the front foot and they drew a number of penalties from the hosts and will have felt harshly done by that the referee did not reach for his pocket, with La Rochelle being pinged so often.

The pressure ultimately proved fruitless as they failed to trouble the scoreboard.

The second half began in the worst possible fashion for the Premiership side, with Tom Ellis sent to the sin bin. La Rochelle made Bath pay almost instantly, with Picquette blasting his way over for his second try just five minutes after the break.

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At this point, the bonus point try was just a matter of time away and it arrived through Dillyn Leyds.

The winger touched down after collecting a pass over the top, after La Rochelle had made their physicality felt.

It was followed by a fifth score courtesy of Rhule as the winger collected an inside pass from the galloping Brice Dulin, as the French side extended their score to 39-0.

With the scoreline turning embarrassing, Bath rallied and quickly registered three converted tries around the hour mark.

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Johannes Jonker, Joe Simpson and Ruaridh McConnochie all crossed for the visitors as they reduced the deficit to a more respectable 18 points and played some lovely rugby in the process.

As the game entered its final throes, Bath lost their second player to the bin with Jonker pinged at scrum time.

The hosts thought they had finished the game with a sixth score, but the referee ruled that replacement Leo Aouf was held up over the line, following a barnstorming run.

It was a brief bright spot in what was a dour closing stage as La Rochelle seemed content to hold what they had and record a comfortable victory.

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Shaylen 2 hours ago
Jack Willis' Champions Cup masterclass proves English eligibility rules need a rethink

If France, Wales, England, Scotland and Ireland got together and all changed their eligibility laws in the same way SA has it would be absolutely bonkers. All players from all nations involved in Europe would be fair game as would their coaches. The investment in rugby would be supercharged as teams would rush to create dream teams. Transfer markets would be super charged, salary caps may change, private investment would grow as rich backers first buy clubs and then put money into their clubs in an effort to land the best players. The richest clubs and franchises would benefit most but money and players would move across borders at a steady flow. Suddenly countries like Wales and Scotland would have a much larger pool of players to select from who would be developed and improved in systems belonging to their rivals within superstar squads while their clubs receive large sums in the transfer market. The Six Nations would experience a big boost as the best players become available all the time. The Champions cup would become even more fiercely contested as the dream teams clash. Fan engagement would grow as fans would follow their favourite players creating interest in the game across the continent. Transfer markets and windows would become interesting events in themselves, speculation would drive it and rumours of big transfers and interest in players would spread. All of this is speculation and much of it would not eventuate straight away but just like in football the spread of players and talent would create these conditions over time. The transfer markets in European football is proof of this. Football had the same club vs country debate eons ago and favoured an open system. This has made it the largest game in the world with global interest and big money. Rugby needs to embrace this approach in the long run as well

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J
Jon 8 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

This is a bit dramatic for me, I think the Rebels and Force cultures would be very strong, and if a player is chosen from either, you can be confident they are in a good head space and ready. Whether they quite have the technical or tactical foundations of the other two states is where one would way their risk of selection. I see no need for Schmidt to worry about that risk in this squad. The main reason I could see a predominance of players from Brumbies and Reds, is simple cohesion. What might the coaching group make of what’s lacking in the Tahs, and to a lesser extent Rebels and Force’s, franchise? Certainly sides (players) that are running irish plays like we saw from that lovely McDermott long ball with have a head start. I hope the players can continue it at International level. Really liked what I saw of Wright (don’t know player focus and just hadn’t seen a lot of him anyway) in that game, can see him being a glue in a Wallaby side too. A with the similar worry of selecting players like Ryan, I think it unfounded to worry so much about forward balance at the moment. Including both Wright and Skelton in the same lineout is not going to lose you games gainst Wales. Nor will any unknown weakenss Wales might find in Ryan be exploited to any great extent. It is the perfect time to introduce such a young player. What other shortcuts might Schmidt want to make now, just a year out from hosting BIL? When Gamble came on the scene I thought he had a Pocock ability to break game apart along with performing the role of a openside well. I would be very keen to drop Leota/Hooper for Gamble, and in your squad make up, include Uru as a lock. Did you forget to remove Vunivalu from your team? Would you have Meafou in your squad if you could?

114 Go to comments
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