Racing revive Champions Cup play-off hopes
CHAMPIONS CUP REPORT: Racing 92 revived their hopes of reaching the European Rugby Champions Cup quarterfinals with a crucial 29-7 bonus-point triumph over French Top 14 rivals Castres Olympique at the Stade Yves Du Manoir on Saturday.
Forwards Leone Nakarawa and Dimitri Szarewski both graced the scoresheet, while wings Virimi Vakatawa and Louis Dupichot also got in on the action as Racing 92 secured a full five points, drawing them level with Pool Four leaders Munster, who take on Leicester Tigers in the final Round Four fixtures on Sunday.
Fijian loose forward Nakarawa was already leading the offloading charts ahead of Round Four, but offered another man of the match worthy performance as Racing 92 dominated throughout, starting with his try in the opening five minutes.
Racing 92 wing Vakatawa then crossed the whitewash in an unfamiliar fashion, peeling off the back of a driving maul and a Maxime Machenaud penalty extended the home side's lead to 17-0.
Castres Olympique, victors in the return fixture last weekend, were offered some hope before the break as scrumhalf Rory Kockott scored their first try, which he converted himself as the sides went into the break at 17-7.
Racing 92 retained the upper hand throughout and a second rolling maul crossed with Szarewski taking the honours this time, before a double dismissal saw Kockott shown a yellow card and Racing 92 fullback Juan Imhoff shown a red card.
Reduced numbers did not stop Racing 92 pressing on to clinch what could prove to a vital bonus point, as winger Dupichot raced round the corner in a late overlapping move as the hosts added a gloss to an impressive riposte to last weekend's defeat in Castres.
Tries: Nakarawa, Vakatawa, Dupichot 2
Cons: Machenaud 2, Iribaren
Red Card: Juan Imhoff (Racing 92)
Yellow Cards: Christophe Samson (Castres), Rory Kockott (Castres)
Racing 92: 15 Juan Imhoff, 14 Louis Dupichot, 13 Henry Chavancy, 12 Anthony Tuitavake, 11 Virimi Vakatawa, 10 Rémi Tales, 9 Maxime Machenaud, 8 Leone Nakarawa, 7 Bernard le Roux, 6 Yannick Nyanga, 5 Edwin Maka, 4 Donnacha Ryan, 3 Cedate Gomes Sa, 2 Camille Chat, 1 Eddy Ben Arous.
Replacements: 16 Dimitri Szarzewski, 17 Vasil Kakovin, 18 Ben Tameifuna, 19 Boris Palu, 20 Wenceslas Lauret, 21 Teddy Iribaren, 22 Antoine Gibert, 23 Joe Rokocoko.
Castres: 15 Julien Caminati, 14 Afusipa Taumoepeau, 13 Robert Ebersohn, 12 Florian Vialelle, 11 Kylian Jaminet, 10 Yohan Le Bourhis, 9 Rory Kockott, 8 Alex Tulou, 7 Steve Mafi, 6 Yannick Caballero, 5 Loic Jacquet, 4 Christophe Samson, 3 Yohan Montes, 2 Marc-Antoine Rallier, 1 Tudor Stroe.
Replacements: 16 Kevin Firmin, 17 Mihaita Lazar, 18 Eric Sione, 19 Alexandre Bias, 20 Rodrigo Capo Ortega, 21 Yohan Domenech, 22 Benjamin Urdapilleta, 23 Thomas Combezou.
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)
Assistant referees: Matthew Carley (England), Paul Dix (England)
TMO: Rowan Kitt (England)