The Racingmen seemed to have at least sewn up the defensive bonus point, but after a hurly-burly final few minutes, they leave Bordeaux with nothing to show for their efforts, losing 30-21 to UBB after an interception try by Guitoune in the dying seconds. (Crédit photo : Emilie Manchon)
In a frustrating result for the Ciel et Blanc, after a heart-stopping eighty minutes of rugby at Stade Chaban-Delmas, they leave Bordeaux empty-handed after letting the defensive bonus point slip through their fingers.
In the cauldron of Bordeaux, where the UBB has now won 17 of its 23 games on this pitch, the Racingmen were victims of their own ambition. Caught up in the whirlwind of running rugby proposed by Matthew Clarkin and his men, the Ciel et Blanc wanted to do the same and, with two tries to winger Teddy Thomas (47’and 78’) it seemed as if they had made the right choice.
But in an incredible turnaround, after working their way back to 23-21 with less than two minutes left on the clock, the Ciel et Blanc pushed one pass too many, offering opposition winger Sofiane Guitoune an interception 25 metres out from the goal-line and a try in the corner in the final seconds of play.
“It shows a lack of intelligence on our part,” grumbled Virgile Lacombe interviewed by Canal+ at the end of the game. “We were dominating, but instead of hanging on to the ball, one after another, we were all trying to pull off impossible passes.”
In the first half, from a tap penalty the Bordelais had opened the scoring, with a try to prop Albert Toefu, converted by Pierre Bernard. Jonny Sexton, after missing his first shot at goal rapidly adjusted his sights, kicking two penalty goals (18’ and 23’) to bring Racing within one point of UBB (7-6).
Thanks to two penalties by Bernard, at half-time the UBB was leading 13-6, but with the wind at their backs in the second half, everything was possible for François van der Merwe and his men. Sexton added a third penalty and, with the score at 13-9 the Racingmen began to take the upper hand and impose their game plan.
Henry Chavancy, highly active after coming on for Alex Dumoulin only 9 minutes into the match, ripped the ball out of a maul and took off along the left hand touch. After running 35 metres, he stepped inside to find the support, Antonie Claassen appeared on his shoulder, the South African secured the possession, the Racingmen formed two rucks before feeding Brice Dulin and the international full-back delicately chipped the ball into the in-goal for Thomas to score. Try! From the touchline, Jonny Sexton’s conversion was just wide, but for the first time, Racing went ahead 13-14.
Five minutes later, however, a 55-metre goal by Bernard once again gave the lead to UBB (16-14). But around the 60-minute mark the Racingmen started once again to dominate, reinvigorated as they were by the appearance of their emblematic captain Dimitri Szarzewski, back on the pitch after an absence of four and a half months.
In wave after wave, the Franciliens pounded at the opposition line, pushing the Bordelais were to breaking point. But 8 minutes from full time, the game’s turning point came when the Ciel et Blanc lost the ball in the opposition 25 metres, Bordeaux countered, and against the run of play centre Julien Rey scored under the posts.
23-14 after the conversion, and still everything to play for! But in the wake of Casey Laulala, often decisive in his first TOP 14 match, the Ciel et Blanc continued to find holes in the opposition defence. Three minutes from full time, Laulala once again slipped through the defence, found Teddy Thomas on the burst, and the young winger had a solitary run to score under the posts. Johan Goosen converted, and the Racing had clawed back to 23-21.
The defensive bonus point appeared to be in the bag, but this did not take into account the appetite of Bordelais, and the “gourmandise” of the Franciliens. With the final ball of the game, the Ciel et Blanc tried to run the ball out of their 22. But Guitoune was waiting in ambush, he intercepted the pass, and shot over in the corner, scoring the local’s third try in the final second. “We should have relied more on our driving mauls and our scrum,” regretted Virgile Lacombe. “We tried to play too much rugby, and it cost us dearly.”
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