La Rochelle set up another French showdown in Champions Cup quarter-finals
Ihaia West scored 16 points as La Rochelle booked a Heineken Champions Cup quarter-final showdown with Montpellier after a hard-fought victory over 14-man Bordeaux-Begles.
The fly-half scored a first-half try and kicked four conversions and a penalty as Ronan O’Gara’s much-changed side, who took an 18-point lead into the second leg, triumphed 31-23 against a dogged Bordeaux outfit who fought to the final whistle despite having number eight Maama Vaipulu sent off early on.
A 62-36 aggregate win means Montpellier will travel to the Stade Marcel Deflandre in the last eight.
The visitors took a 3-0 led courtesy of Maxime Lucu’s 15th-minute penalty, but it was soon cancelled out by West after the La Rochelle pack flexed its muscles at the set-piece.
Bordeaux were reduced to 14 with just 27 minutes one when referee Wayne Barnes sent off Vaipulu for a senseless shoulder charge on centre Jonathan Danty, but Lucu restored their advantage with a second kick to give his side a 6-3 half-time lead.
However, West carved his way through the visitors’ defence within two minutes of the restart to touch down for the game’s first try before adding to conversion to make it 10-6, and obliged once again after number eight Greg Alldritt had crossed.
Nineteen-year-old centre Gatien Masse’s converted 53rd-minute try gave the 14 men hope, but it was extinguished almost immediately when Danty powered his way through before putting in scrum-half Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
Replacement Levani Botia claimed La Rochelle’s fourth try with 12 minutes remaining after Mateo Garcia had kicked a third penalty for the visitors as they cruised to victory despite Jules Plisson’s late yellow card and a consolation try from winger Federico Mori.
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