Despite finishing the match at twelve against fifteen, Racing 92 scored a short but precious victory against Harlequins (30-29), their first this season in the Champions Cup.
Racing 92 was terribly scared. After a missed first half of the Champions Cup group stage with two defeats last December, the Ile-de-France club had to win on their home turf against Harlequins. The message went well since it only took five minutes for Gaël Fickou to go and flatten the first try of the meeting. Putting speed into their game thanks to after-contact passes, the Ciel-et-Blancs found a gap which allowed their captain to go queen, Finn Russell not trembling on the transformation. Nevertheless, Laurent Travers’ players then fell into a false rhythm, which allowed Harlequins to recover from a missed start to the match.
A quarter of an hour before the break, while Cedate Gomes Sa gave way to Trevor Nyakane on concussion protocol without being able to resume play later, Marcus Smith took his chance on penalty to unlock the Harlequins counter. However, the London side stayed on those three points until the break, with their goalscorer missing the target from long range just five minutes later. To this was added a try refused with the help of the video, Donovan Taofifenua having managed to slip his arm between the lawn and the ball while Aaron Morris was going to flatten. In the process, it was Racing 92 who were able to add to the bill through Kitione Kamikamica, who came into play very early.
Racing 92 took the lead
At the end of a good collective sequence, the third line pierced the Quins defense to flatten while making appreciate its burst of speed. An advantage of eleven lengths at half-time that the Ile-de-France residents increased from the first seconds of the second act. Indeed, on the kickoff made by Finn Russell, the Ciel-et-Blancs were able to immediately recover the ball and play towards the left wing. Maxime Beaudonne broke through a disorganized defensive curtain before serving on a Francis Saili set. Then leading by 18 points and a test of the offensive bonus, Racing 92 could see it coming… but that was without counting on the fighting spirit of the Harlequins.
Barely two minutes later, after a touch captured and a carried ball formed, Danny Care was able to extract the ball to surprise the Ile-de-France defense and go to the test. The game then changed with the Londoners rebounding, going for a second try in the space of five minutes. This time, it was Marcus Smith who initiated the movement out of scrum and served on a Cadan Murray platter. A momentum which was then slowed down by the indiscipline of Harlequins, who saw Aaron Morris for a tackle in the air on Donovan Taofifenua then Alex Dombrandt for a high tackle on Nolann Le Garrec both receiving a yellow card in the second half. space of five minutes. Meanwhile, Finn Russell added three on foot for Racing 92.
The Harlequins gave in narrowly
A numerical inferiority that did not scare Londoners, who came back to two points with a quarter of an hour still to play thanks to Cadan Murray’s double. The winger came to conclude a consecutive wide game with a touch before seeing his striker miss the conversion which would have put the two teams equal. With their backs to the wall, the Ile-de-France residents gave themselves a little breather in the 70th minute with a penalty from Finn Russell, but that’s when the match started to turn into a nightmare for Racing 92. In the space of four minutes, three players received yellow cards. First of all, Donovan Taofifenua was sanctioned for a voluntary forward. Eddy Ben Arous then paid dearly for a collapsed maul then Finn Russell was caught by the patrol for, again, a voluntary forward on an attempted interception.
Except that, in this case, the Harlequins went to the test and the referee of the meeting awarded the seven points of a penalty test to the English formation. The latter then went ahead in the score for the first time in the match with three minutes to play. However, on the dismissal, the Quins defense made a mistake and Nolann Le Garrec did not waver to put his team in front by a length. With courage despite three fewer players, the Racingmen held on in defense before hiding the ball in the last minute of regulation time. To courage, Racing 92 signs its first victory of the season in the Champions Cup (30-29) and can still believe in the round of 16.