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Racing sink Clermont thanks to quick-fire Andreu, Palu tries

By Peter Hanson

A devastating two-minute second-half spell helped Racing 92 come through a thrilling European Champions Cup quarter-final at Clermont Auvergne to book a last-four contest with Munster.

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In a match pitting the last two losing finalists against each other, it was Racing’s quality in the crucial moments that paid dividends in a 28-17 victory at at the Stade Marcel-Michelin.

The lead had changed hands on several occasions before the introduction of New Zealand legend Dan Carter helped Racing seize the initiative, with man of the match Marc Andreu and Boris Palu touching down in quick succession past the hour mark.

It represents a fresh disappointment for Clermont, who have endured a disappointing Top 14 defence and lost three of the past five Champions Cup finals, but Racing – second in their domestic league – remain well in the hunt for titles this season.

Clermont’s early pressure forced Racing into several infringements from which Morgan Parra cashed in with three penalties to put the hosts into a 9-0 lead.

Racing were initially denied the opening try by the TMO due to obstruction, but crossed over soon after when Andreu’s break and neat work in the backs led to Leone Nakarawa powering through.

A Maxime Machenaud penalty put the visitors in front for the first time, only for sublime work from Parra to play in Peter Betham to dive over in the corner and restore Clermont’s advantage.

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The tricky conversion was missed and Machenaud nailed two kicks at goal either side of the break to edge Racing back in front, but – after Nick Abendanon was denied by the TMO to boos from the home crowd – Parra’s trusty boot again put Clermont ahead.

But Racing turned to Carter and he inspired an immediate swing in momentum with a fine offload for Andreu to race over, a trip upstairs showing the pass was not forward.

Racing showed their strength again two minutes later as Carter, Teddy Thomas and Machenaud combined to play in Palu and leave Clermont trailing by 11.

Clermont thought they had a route back in the match when Remy Grosso went over, but a review spotted an accidental offside in the build-up and the score was wiped out much to the chagrin of the home faithful, who again voiced their displeasure at full-time.

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finn 5 hours ago
Why the world needs a reverse Lions tour

I think there’s a lot of reasons this wouldn’t work, but if we’re just proposing fun things how about a “World Series” held the june/july following a world cup. The teams competing each four years would be: the current world champions The Pacific Islands The British & Irish Lions The World XV Barbarians FC to ensure all teams are fairly evenly matched, the current world champions would name their squad first; then The Pacific Islands would name next, and would be able to select any pacific qualified players not selected by the world champions, including players already “captured” by non-pacific nations who would otherwise have been eligible for selection (eg. Bundee Aki); the Lions would select next; and then The World XV and Barbarians FC would be left to fight over anyone not selected. Some people will point out that 5 teams is too many for a mid-year round robin, particularly as it would be nice to have a final as well; and they would be right! But because we’re just having fun here we’re going to innovate an entirely new format for rugby, where the round robin is played in one stadium over the course of one day, with each game lasting just 40 minutes with no half time or change of ends. The round robin decides the seedings for the knockouts, which are contested by all 5 teams in one stadium over the course of one day, according to the following schedule: Knockout Round 1: seed 5 v seed 4 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Quarter Final: winner of Round 1 v seed 3 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Semi Final: winner of Quarter Final v seed 2 (contested over 1 half of indetermined length, finishing when one team reaches 7 points) ~ 10 minute break ~ Final: winner of Semi Final v seed 1 (played as a standard 80 minute rugby match) for the round robin, teams would name a 15 man starting lineup and a 16 man bench. Substitutions during games can only be made for injuries, but any number of substitutions can be made between games. The same rules apply for the finals, except that we return to having a regular 8 man bench, and would allow substitutions as normal during the 80 minute final.

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S
Simon 7 hours ago
Is the Six Nations balance of power shifting?

There are a few issues with the article. Despite somehow getting to a RWC semi final, England are nowhere near Probable status and should be swapped with Scotland on current form. France’s failure at RWC 23 has massively hit their mindset. Psychologically, they need a reset of gigantic proportions otherwise they will revert to, Top 14 first, international rugby an afterthought again. Ireland are allowed to play the way they are by less than acceptable officiating. Make no bones about it, with Easterby coaching, Ireland cheat, they break the rules at almost every facet of the game and generally referees, influenced by the media that Ireland are somehow playing the best rugby in the world, allow them. Scrums - Porter never pushes straight and immediately turns in. The flankers lose their binds and almost latch on to the opposition props. Rucks - they always and I mean always clear out from the side and take players out beyond the ball, effectively taking them out of being ready for the next phase. Not once do green shirts enter rucks from the rear foot. Referees should be made to look at the video of the game against Wales and see that Irish backs and forwards happily enter rucks from the side to effect a clearout, thus giving them the sub 3 second ruck speed everybody dreams about. They also stand in offside positions at rucks to ‘block’ opposing players from making clear tackles allowing the ball carrier to break the gainline almost every time. They then turn and are always ahead of play and therefore enter subsequent rucks illegally. Mauls - there is always a blocker between the ball catcher and the opposition. It is subtle but it is there. Gatland still needs to break the shackles and allow his team a bit more freedom to play rugby. He no longer has a team of 16 stone plus players who batter the gainline. He has to adapt and be more thoughtful in attack. Scotland are playing well but they have the creaky defence that leaks tries.

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